Thursday, November 10, 2005

Relatively calm Election Day

Today's San Francisco Chronicle features an article by Greg Lucas assessing how the election went -- and it appears things were relatively smooth. Excepts are below.


With the exception of some missing poll workers, an on-the-fritz scanner in Tuolumne County, some uncounted votes in Stanislaus County, a power outage in Lassen and transportation problems in Los Angeles, processing the 6.8 million ballots cast in Tuesday's election went off without much hassle.

One reason there were so few snafus is that one third of the ballots -- 2.3 million -- were absentee.

The remaining absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted could push the figures closer to the 40 percent vote-by-mail estimate by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

"Sure there was the occasional glitch, but generally the reports coming in from the counties is that the processes worked smoothly," said Conny McCormack, registrar of Los Angeles County and president of the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials.

"Considering how fast we had to put this election together and pull it off administratively, I thought we all did extremely well," McCormack said.


There were no widespread problems with the election in the Bay Area.

Stephen Weir, Contra Costa County registrar, said the election went well but his county and some others had a higher-than-normal number of "no show" poll workers.

In Stanislaus County, election officials decided not to count 20 precincts of mail-in ballots until Wednesday morning. But state election officials awakened them long after midnight and told them the ballots had to be counted right away.

One of Tuolumne County's vote-counting scanners gave up the ghost, leaving ballot counters with just one scanner to process votes.

"It took us an hour-plus longer than normal. Otherwise, everything was fine and dandy," said Tim Johnson, the county registrar.

Monterey was one of seven counties testing new technology that lets voters double-check their selections before casting a ballot electronically.

The devices are required on all electronic voting machines beginning with the June 2006 primary.

"This wasn't a test, it was the real thing," said Claudio Valenzuela, precinct service coordinator for Monterey County.

"Some voters thought they were getting a receipt, but after poll workers explained it was for verification, not a receipt, they were OK with that," Valenzuela said.

Kari Verjil, registrar of San Bernardino County -- the largest jurisdiction in the country to use the verification devices -- said despite a few paper jams the devices worked "exceptionally well."

The above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty award for the election probably goes to four poll workers in Lassen County who arrived at their polling place, the Veterans Memorial Hall in Bieber, population 510, to find the power out and no water.

A snowstorm had downed power lines. Rather than give up the site, they opened the polling place with flashlights. To combat the cold, the husband of one of the poll workers brought wood and got a fire blazing in the hall's fireplace. A voter went home and returned with a propane lantern.

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