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 prioritizes Raul Ruiz, Mary Bono Mack ballots for next results update

As the Riverside County Registrar of Voters prepares to release updated results today, poll workers will prioritize ballots cast in the 36th Congressional race.

About 22,000 vote-by-mail ballots had been scanned into the ballot counting machines by about 2 p.m. Friday, Registrar Kari Verjil said.

“That number will keep continuing to increase because we’ve got a few more hours,” Verjil said.

The results of those 22,000 ballots — and the undetermined number of other ballots that will be scanned in the next few hours —will be released about 6 p.m.

The registrar has 140,000 ballots left to count, or 20.5 percent of the vote left to count. That includes 64,000 vote-by-mail, 60,000 provisional and 18,000 damaged.

After sorting ballots by precincts, the poll workers have prioritized today sending through ballots that come from precincts in the 36th Congressional District.

“We are focusing on that race because we know how much interest there is,” Verjil said.

Challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz leads the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack by 4,679 votes, or 2.82 percentage points, in his campaign for the 36th Congressional District seat.

In the Cathedral City mayoral race, challenger Chip Yarborough maintains his lead over incumbent Mayor Kathy DeRosa. He now leads by 185 votes.


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.

About 1 in 4 Riverside County ballots yet to be counted

Voter audit trail scrolls for the 100% ballot hand count are ready for examination June 17, 2010 at the Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

Voter audit trail scrolls for the 100% ballot hand count are ready for examination June 17, 2010 at the Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

Riverside County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil just released estimates of how many ballots have yet to be processed:

“Approximately, 105,000 vote-by-mail, 60,000 provisional, and 18,000 damaged ballots that require duplication still must be processed. Work on those ballots begins today. The next updated results will be posted at 6pm on Thursday.”

That adds up to roughly 183,000 ballots that have yet to be counted.

Pair that with the 499,027 already tallied Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and we’re looking at a total of about 682,000 ballots cast in the county by Tuesday.

The uncounted share is about a quarter of that approximate total — 26.8 percent, but we’re dealing with rough numbers.

Compare that to the 106,000 outstanding ballots that marked about 44 percent of ballots cast outstanding after Election Night in June 2010, a contest that marked the beginning of the end for former Registrar Barbara Dunmore.

Verjil has told my colleagues in the past that trends usually hold firm as these left-to-be-processed ballots are counted.

Riverside County last in California in terms of precincts reporting

A  voter audit trail scroll  is examined with the 100 percent ballot  hand count June 17, 2010, at the Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office in Riverside.   (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

A voter audit trail scroll is examined with the 100 percent ballot hand count June 17, 2010, at the Riverside County Registrar of Voters Office in Riverside. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

The 6:19 a.m. update from the California Secretary of State shows Riverside County still has only 70.8 percent of its precincts at least partially reporting.

Every other county in the state has at least one ballot counted from each of its precincts this morning, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

• For more on how the vote count works and Riverside County’s history of slow tallies, read Kate McGinty’s overnight post on election returns.

• For the latest results, visit http://mydesert.co/CVresults12

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the author of a previous post.

Riverside County ranks No. 1 worst for votes counted so far in California


Riverside County now ranks No. 1 worst in the state for percentage of votes counted.

The Registrar of Voters has counted 42.6 percent of its votes and is now behind San Bernardino County (45.2 percent) and Kings County (54.9 percent), according to the update from the California Secretary of State.

Statewide, 79.9 percent of ballots have been counted. Only 12 of the state’s 58 counties were still counting ballots as of the 2:15 a.m. update.


Riverside County now ranks No. 3 worst out of 58 counties in the state for percentage of votes counted.

More than five hours after polls closed, Riverside County Registrar of Voters has counted 36.5 percent of its votes. It’s reporting 332,003 ballots have been counted, 79 percent of which were vote-by-mail ballots.

Statewide, 38 counties are now done counting ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

San Bernardino and Kings counties are the only ones with a smaller percentage of votes counted.



More than three hours after polls closed, Riverside County ranks No. 44 in the state for the number of votes tallied.

The California Secretary of State tracks the 58 counties and provides the number of precincts reporting, the time of the county’s first report and the time of the most recent report.

Sixteen other counties were done counting ballots as Riverside County had fewer than one-third of its votes counted.


Results come in batches

Riverside County released its vote-by-mail tallies first, which tallied 262,676 votes, starting about 8:15 p.m. It then added a small batch of Riverside-based voters and ballots from early voting at malls.

The first ballots began to arrive at the Riverside office about 9:15 p.m., and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department helped shuttle ballots there, the registrar posted on Facebook at 9:42 p.m.

It released a new batch of results at 10:21 p.m. — 7,864 ballots, or a 3 percent increase in the number of votes counted. That batch was from 70 precincts across the county, including Banning, Coronoa, Hemet and Temecula.

The only desert precincts added to that update came from five polling sites in Palm Springs, according to the registrar’s Facebook page. None of the Coachella Valley races saw notable change.

Riverside County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil said the ballot counting could take until noon Wednesday.

“As you know, poll workers must follow steps required by law before they can begin sending ballots to the Registrar’s office in Riverside for counting. That closing procedure means the first few results included few if any polling place ballots. This is no different than in the past,” she wrote in a 12:32 a.m. email Wednesday responding to Desert Sun inquiries about the delay in vote tallies.

“The pace of ballots coming in from our large county drives the speed of the updates for results,” she continued, noting that Riverside County spans 7,200 square miles.



Riverside County has history of being last in state to report

Verjil, who was hired in February 2011, succeeded Barbara Dunmore, who was fired just days after the November 2010 election amid widespread criticism.

During Dunmore’s tenure, Riverside County was, more than once, the last in California to report its election results. Both candidates and voters had grown accustomed to waiting long hours for updates and days for final results.

The delayed results, combined with a lack of election night communication, even prompted state and federal legislators from across the country to urge supervisors to take action.