"Registrar Staff expects to work through night, " Union Tribune, Ed's occasional clipping service

From: Edmund R. Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Tue Feb 05 2008 - 14:55:38 CST

I had been expecting this story. You can expect to see more stories like this with some ROV's whining about how tedious it is to accurately count votes. Apparently they're using a battery of precinct scanners at the ROV offices instead of a high speed central unit.

Thanks, Ed Kennedy

        
        
        

        
        
        
        
         
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

              
        
         
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
                
                
                 
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Tabulation process to delay results

Registrar staff expects to work through nightBy Craig Gustafson

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 5, 2008
When the polls close at 8 tonight, the presidential primary won't be over for county election officials.About
150 staff members, volunteers and part-time workers will be waiting at
the Registrar of Voters Office in Kearny Mesa for truckloads of ballots
from 1,650 polling places. They'll insert the ballots one by one into
100 machines to tabulate the results.

SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
Workers
were busy counting absentee ballots yesterday at the Registrar of
Voters Office in Kearny Mesa. A record 8.9 million Californians are
expected to cast ballots today.
It takes
the scanners 15 minutes to count 100 to 200 ballots, so crews expect to
work throughout the night to tally the roughly 600,000 ballots on
decades-old technology.The process – far different from previous
years – is expected to be long and arduous. Final results from the
day's canvass likely won't be available until 8 a.m. tomorrow.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The
county signed a $31 million deal in 2003 to bring touch-screen
electronic voting to the people, a decision that five years later has
brought nothing but instability to the voting process.
Disputes
over the touch-screen machines and the company that made them has
forced the county to revert to tried-and-true paper ballots time and
again.
To lower costs for the $11 million primary and eliminate
security questions, the county plans to count ballots at the registrar
headquarters rather than having a scanner at each polling place, as has
been the norm. That decision by Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler
could lead to voter frustration as results from elsewhere in the nation
tick across TV screens.
“It's going to make it slow,” Seiler said.
The
reason for the delay in results is restrictions placed on the use of
electronic voting machines by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen
that force 20 counties, including San Diego, to use paper ballots.
Bowen
largely banned the use of certain machines after an independent review
of three manufacturers last summer showed that the systems could be
easily manipulated using typical office tools and limited computer
experience. One of those manufacturers, Ohio-based Premier Election
Solutions, provides the county with its touch-screen machines. (The
company recently changed its name from Diebold Election Systems.)
So
while Californians expect to have a say in a presidential primary for
the first time in years, it may take some time to find out what that
impact is.
This comes at a time when competitive bids for the
Republican and Democratic nominations for president have sparked major
interest. Many couldn't wait for Super Tuesday to get here. San Diego
County has received 230,000 mail ballots, in addition to the more than
4,000 people who voted early at the registrar's office.
But Bowen has said the accuracy of elections is far more important than quick results.
As
a result, the county can place only one touch-screen machine at each of
its polling places to comply with a federal law aimed at helping
disabled people vote. That leaves more than 8,000 machines from the
2003 deal sitting unused.
Everyone else will fill out a paper ballot.
Kate
Folmar, a spokeswoman for Bowen, said nearly two-thirds of the state's
counties have used paper ballots and scanners with “great success.” The
state is not requiring a centralized tally, and San Diego is choosing
to do so on its own.
Los Angeles County does a centralized tally
without much of a delay, though Folmar said San Diego County has more
geographic hurdles that could slow it down.
Samuel Popkin, a
political science professor at the University of California San Diego,
said he expects voter turnout to be high and isn't surprised that
results will take awhile.
“Why they decided to do (a central
tally) is beyond me,” he said. “Any new procedure in government when
you got people doing it for the first time, you've got to assume it's
going to go slow.”
Seiler has criticized Bowen's decision to
restrict touch-screen machines and believes she is overstepping her
authority by placing certain conditions, such as additional
hand-counting in post-election audits, on election officials. The
county sued over those conditions and lost.
This isn't the first time the use of touch-screen machines has gotten the county crossed-up with the state.
The
machines had a horrible debut in the March 2004 primary. A battery
problem with a key machine component forced more than one-third of the
county's polling places to open late. Some people couldn't return later
in the day and never got to vote.
Then-Secretary of State Kevin
Shelley subsequently banned the use of Diebold's touch-screen devices
and they sat on the sidelines until they were recertified in 2006. They
were in full use in November 2006 and no major problems were reported.
Bowen,
who ran for secretary of state as a skeptic of electronic voting
machines, tapped University of California Berkeley researchers to
examine machines made by Diebold (now called Premier) and two other
manufacturers. The team found the machines had serious flaws. Bowen
studied the results and then largely banned the machines.
The result for San Diego is a long night tonight.
“The scanners will definitely be there all night,” Seiler said. “We definitely need a lot of people to pull off this process.”
Craig Gustafson: (619) 293-1399; craig.gustafson@uniontrib.com

 
        
         
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
         
        
        
        
        
                

        

                
                
        
         
        
        
        
        
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