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.


Raul Ruiz campaign: ‘We will maintain our lead’

While Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign maintains its silence, aides to Democratic challenger Raul Ruiz are reassuring their supporters that they were victorious.

“We are confident that when the remaining vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted we will maintain our lead and win this election,” campaign manager Kyle Layman said in a statement to supporters late Thursday.

“Tonight, almost 4,000 additional ballots were counted, and our lead expanded by 122 votes.”

Ruiz had trailed Bono Mack, a Palm Springs Republican, in initial returns Tuesday night. But with each new round of results, Ruiz has gained momentum.

The latest tally for the 36th Congressional race, released Thursday evening, shows the Palm Desert physician has a 4,679-vote lead over the incumbent.

The Riverside County registrar is expected to release more results this evening.

“Our campaign will keep you updated as we receive more information,” Layman told supporters in the email. ”Thank you for making this victory possible.”

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

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.

Riverside County Voter of Registrar gives schedule for Coachella Valley election results

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters started releasing election results at 8:15 p.m. today, shortly after polls closed.

That first batch of results included only the vote-by-mail ballots. The registrar sent out 172,798 vote-by-mail ballots.

That was updated shortly before 9 p.m. with some ballots from the registrar’s office and malls where early voting was held.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has been helping to shuttle ballots to the precinct. The first ones arrived in Riverside about 9:15 p.m.

The next round of results will be released at 10:30 p.m. and will begin to factor in the ballots cast at precincts across the county today. The votes could come in small batches, the registrar warned in a post on its Facebook.

The results will continue to be released hourly until 1:30 a.m. Later in the early morning hours, that schedule will change to every 90 minutes.

“Depending on voter turnout, polling-place ballot counts will likely continue until noon on Wednesday,” the registrar said.

That means it could be hours before we can project the local races — including the heated Congressional race between Rep. Mary Bono Mack and Dr. Raul Ruiz.

The registrar posts results here.

Comprehensive coverage will be available on as soon as possible and immediately via our Twitter @MyDesert.

Palm Springs voters report ballots already filled out in president’s race

We’ve seen a few Palm Springs voters claim on social media that they stopped at their voting precincts this morning — and were handed ballots that already had a presidential candidate chosen.

We’re seeing news reports and Tweets of it happening in a few cases across the nation, too — like here, and here, and here, and here. In Nebraska, the state Democratic Party has called a press conference to address similar reports there.

Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ chief deputy director Art Tinoco said he called Palm Springs Baptist Church, one of the precincts at the center of a voter’s complaint via social media.  They told him a voter returned his ballot after marking it, then returned a second and took a third.

“He said they were pre-marked, but that’s clearly impossible,” Tinoco said. “They’re very clean inventory. We go through each one of those packs physically … brand new, fresh packs. We open them and go through the ballots. It takes us a good month to go through all of them.”

Each precinct has 800 to 1,300 ballots on hand, as well as 100 provisional ballots, and must give voters new ballots if they make a mistake on the first or second ones, he told Desert Sun reporter Denise Goolsby.

A California Secretary of State spokeswoman said the office had not received any complaints of that kind. She instructed voters who find irregularities to notify a poll worker and exchange the ballot for a new one, then call an elections official to report the problem (see below).


How to report voter problems

Call the Riverside County Registrar of Voters at (951) 486-7200.

The state Secretary of State has an Election Voter Complaint form on its website:

If you have questions, you can call the office: (800) 345-VOTE for English-speaking callers and (800) 232-VOTA for Spanish-speaking callers.


See any irregularities on your ballot?

Snap a photo of any problem ballots and send them our way. Email or tweet us (@TDSKateM or @MyDesert) with hash tag #CVelection.