Cathedral City recount starts Thursday

Riverside County election officials on Thursday will begin the much-anticipated recount of Cathedral City ballots.

The process is being funded by mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough, who has decided to pay $2,800 a day to have the pricier manual recount instead of one that relies on machines.

Yarborough lost to incumbent Mayor Kathy DeRosa by just 13 votes.

“The registrar said that there are chances of the machine missing something,” Yarborough told Desert Sun reporter Tamara Sone. “It’s expensive but people have been calling me saying that I have to do the recount.”

A machine recount would have cost $1,873 per day, according to earlier estimates.

County Registrar Kari Verjil told The Desert Sun that that first day of a recount is typically the slowest, as election officials and the observers get into their groove.

Yarborough has a team of supporters planning to go to Riverside to oversee the process.  He’s also hired a Los Angeles-based attorney to assist.

The recount will continue as long as Yarborough wants to fund it.

If Yarborough calls it off before each of the 12,303 Cathedral City ballots are recounted– as was the case during the 2010 recount of the Rancho Mirage council recount – the certified election results will stand.

The Nov. 6 election results now show DeRosa has 5,729 votes to Yarborough’s 5,716 votes. A third candidate, John David Kauffman got 858 votes.

The current schedule calls for the recount to continue Friday and — if necessary – resume on Monday. Verjil currently has no plans to have her staff work over the weekend.

There is no deadline for the registrar’s office to finish, but it is anticipated the entire recount will only take a few days.

“As a leader of this city, I am looking forward to the election coming to conclusion,” DeRosa said.

Update as of 11:45 a.m. Thursday: The photos in this blog were updated to reflect the activity this morning. The photos were submitted by Yarborough.


Will Marion Ashley make the ticket?

As Riverside County wraps up the election count, supervisors have asked staff to review what investments could speed up future ballot tallies.

“Maybe in four years, in 2016 when Supervisor (Marion) Ashley runs for president, we’ll have quicker results back electronically from the county of Riverside,” Supervisor Jeff Stone said when the board approved the idea this week.

We’ll let you decide which of Stone’s hypotheticals is more probable.

Meanwhile, Registrar Kari Verjil’s office is spending the weekend working on the remaining 5,000 provisional ballots  that were cast countywide.

“Those ballots require even more extensive research  than other provisional ballots because they involve voters who went to an  incorrect polling place or whose address changed,” it states on the county website.

The Nov. 6 election results — which will determine the close-call races in Palm Desert and Cathedral City – are now expected to be certified by Monday evening.

Registrar: Election could be wrapped Wednesday

Riverside County Registrar Kari Verjil says she is now hoping to finish counting the remaining 33,000 provisional ballots by Wednesday.

Verjil presented the revised timetable during this morning’s Riverside County supervisors’ meeting in Riverside.

It is not known how many of those ballots may be from the desert, where the races for a Palm Desert council seat and the Cathedral City mayoral spot are currently being determined by slim margins.

Verjil had initially expected her staff would have to work through Thanksgiving weekend in order to finish processing all the ballots.

The next round of updates is expected around 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Verjil has until Dec. 4 to finish and certify the count.

Election update: Susan Marie Weber now leading Bill Kroonen in Palm Desert

Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen is now on the verge of losing his seat to challenger Susan Marie Weber.

The latest election results, released tonight, show Weber has 6,116 votes to Kroonen’s 6,099 — a 17-vote advantage.

Until now, Kroonen had maintained the lead.

Registrar Kari Verjil earlier told The Desert Sun that she would prioritize results from the Palm Desert race, where 1,300 provisional ballots remained uncounted last week.

It was not immediately clear how many of those ballots are still outstanding.

In Cathedral City, the vote margin has narrowed dramatically.

Mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough is still beating incumbent Kathy DeRosa, but his lead has been cut to just 12 votes.

The official tally has Yarborough with 5,692 votes to DeRosa’s 5,680 votes.

Today’s update includes almost 30,000 ballots countywide. Another 33,000 provisional ballots still need to be counted, an unknown number of which are from the desert.
The registrar will post more results at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Palm Desert race still close in latest election results

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters just posted another update of election results, and it appears Palm Desert Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen has widened his lead slightly.

Kroonen now has a 47-vote advantage over challenger Susan Marie Weber. But roughly 1,300 provisional ballots remain uncounted in the valley’s closest race, according to Registrar Kari Verjil.

In Cathedral City, mayoral challenger Chip Yarborough’s lead over incumbent Kathy De Rosa has narrowed from 201 votes to 180 votes.

And in the 36th Congressional contest, Democrat Raul Ruiz widened his lead to 7,827 votes. Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack has already conceded the race.

Another 60,000 provisional ballots and 9,000 damaged ballots remain uncounted countywide. The next update will be released Friday evening.

The updated results for key desert races are here:

Palm Desert council: (top three win)

Mayor Bob Spiegel: 8,394 votes or 22.43 percent

Van Tanner: 7,799 votes or 20.84 percent

Kroonen: 5,950 votes or 15.90 percent

Weber: 5,903 votes or 15.77 percent

Aurora Wilson: 5,583 votes or 14.92 percent

Ron Moers: 2,352 votes or 6.28 percent

Terry Wood: 1,450 votes or 3.87 percent

Cathedral City:

DeRosa: 5,233 votes or 45.75 percent

John David Kauffman: 792 votes or 6.92 percent

Yarborough: 5,413 votes or 47.32 percent

36th Congressional:

Ruiz: 100,732 votes or 52.02 percent

Bono Mack: 92,905 or 47.98 percent

At least 1,300 uncounted ballots remain in tight Palm Desert race

Roughly 1,300 provisional ballots remain uncounted in Palm Desert, where Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen is fending off challenger Susan Marie Weber by a mere 33 votes.

The actual number of outstanding ballots in that city could be higher.

Registrar Kari Verjil’s estimate, provided to The Desert Sun today, only takes into account the 60,000 provisional ballots that remain uncounted countywide.

Another 15,500 by-mail and 9,500 damaged ballots countywide also need to be counted. It is not known how many of those are from Palm Desert.

“They’ll want to keep an eye on this one,” Verjil said. “The vote trends usually continue. But it’s not final until I certify.”

The entire ballot count will likely last until after Thanksgiving.

Kroonen seemed confident in his victory last week.

He jointly authored a letter to the editor with Palm Desert Mayor Bob Spiegel and councilman-elect Van Tanner thanking residents for “their generous support and confidence in us.”

“We look forward to working with our fellow city council members to lead with thoughtful civility as we meet the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that face our community, while maintaining the standard of excellence for which the city of Palm Desert is known,” stated the letter, published Friday.

Registrar: Election count continues today

Riverside County offices are scheduled to be closed for the holiday, but the counting of election ballots continues today.

According to the registrar’s office, election workers are processing 85,000 remaining ballots from Tuesday’s election.

Registrar Kari Verjil told The Desert Sun that no new tallies will be posted online today, but new results will be posted around 6 p.m. Tuesday. That update should include the 15,500 outstanding by-mail ballots and at least some of the 9,500 damaged ballots.

County officials also have to process some 60,000 provisional ballots.

It is not known what races could be determined from the remaining ballots, but it could impact some desert races.

The closest of the contests is in Palm Desert, where Mayor Pro Tem Bill Kroonen has a mere 33 vote lead over challenger Susan Marie Weber.

Riverside County registrar: Why vote-by-mail ballot counting takes so long

More than 48 hours after polls closed, Riverside County Registrar of Voters has 164,000 ballots — or 24 percent of the vote — left to count.

It was again the last county in the state to report its Election Day results, which by Secretary of State’s measure means counting ballots from each of the precincts.

Riverside County was last of 58 for the third election in a row.

But that doesn’t even include the vote-by-mail, the provisional or the damaged ballots — and that added up to 183,000 ballots in Riverside County that still needed to be counted, even as results listed the misleading “100 percent precincts reporting”

Counting those remaining ballots — the ever-popular vote-by-mail ballot — is trickier than just a vote at a precinct, Registrar Kari Verjil said.

“It sounds like, ‘Why can’t you just rip open the ballot and count it?’ There’s a little more work that has to be done before we can do that,” she said.

First, the vote-by-mail ballots are sorted by their precincts. That started Wednesday.

Then the envelope goes into a machine to scan the signature on the back. That signature appears on a screen next to an image of that voter’s voter registration card.

A poll worker checks the two pictures to make sure the signatures match.

“It goes pretty fast once we get the images scanned,” Verjil said.

Then the ballot envelopes are sliced open, and a machine puffs air inside. A poll worker pulls the ballot out, unfolds it and checks to make sure it’s not damaged and that the voter followed instructions (i.e. drew lines, not circling their choices).

The final step? Actually counting the vote, which means running it through a ballot scanner.

“It’s a big production. There’s a lot of manual work that goes into it,” Verjil said.

About 50 poll workers spent Thursday working to verify signatures, then sending the next batch of ballots through the scanners, Verjil said.

It could take until Dec. 4 — the state-mandated deadline — to certify the final results.

Get out and vote

Riverside County Registrar of Voters today launched an early voting effort that will last through the weekend.

More than 850 voters had been cast by 3 p.m., according to the registar’s office. That includes at least 380 voters who make their voices heard at Westfield Palm Desert.

The shopping mall is the only early voting booth offered in the desert.

The Westfiled voting booth will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

If you can’t make it but want to vote early, you have until Tuesday to request a vote-by-mail ballot.

For more information, contact the registrar’s office at (951) 486-7200.

Registrar recruits bilingual poll workers

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters is recruiting bilingual poll workers who want to assist voters on Nov. 6.

Poll workers must be registered to vote.

They can earn up to $125 for serving as a precinct inspector and $90 for serving as a precinct officer. They also earn $20 for attending a two-and-a-half hour training course.

Insider readers might remember that the county registrar was scrambling to have enough bilingual poll workers for the June primary.

Election officials had wanted to have 1,100 assistants for that election, which would have been enough to have at least one at every polling place and have two or three in communities with more Latino voters.

But with just five days before that election, about 900 people had come forward.

If you want to help out for this November’s election, contact the county registrar at (951) 486-7341.