By David Siders, the Stockton Record (San Joaquin County), 03/04/04
Hundreds of electronic ballot cards were lost Tuesday in San Joaquin County, left at a warehouse where elections' officials later discovered them, the registrar of voters acknowledged.
Election workers found eight metal cases containing ballots from eight precincts at the Stockton warehouse after precinct officials boxed the ballots instead of handing them to elections officials, Registrar of Voters Deborah Hench said.
Elections officials searched through trucks and boxes to get hold of the ballots, retrieved about two hours after first election returns alerted elections officials the ballots were missing, Hench said.
The scramble delayed San Joaquin County election reports, the last of which was submitted at 4:43 a.m., later than all but one other California county, according to the Office of the Secretary of State. Counties counting similar numbers of ballots submitted reports between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.
Precinct officials reported a "mile of cars" waiting to turn in ballots at the warehouse, one of four buildings to which ballots could be brought. At least one official said he took ballots home and returned later to deliver them.
"That's the biggest screw-up I've ever seen in my life," said Frank Rauzi, the official.