Barbara Boxer calls for national polling place standards

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer wants to make sure people don’t have to wait all day to cast their vote.

The Rancho Mirage Democrat today introduced the LINE Act, which would require the Attorney General and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission work together on national polling place standards. Those standards, which would need to be issued by January 2014, would include setting a minimum number of voting machines, election workers and other resources to ensure no one waits longer than an hour.

“It is unacceptable that many Americans had to wait in line for five, six or seven hours to cast their ballots,” Boxer said in a statement today. “The LINE Act will help ensure that every American has an equal chance to vote without enduring hours-long delays at their polling places.”

In a news release issued this morning, Boxer’s office noted that voters in key states such as Florida and Ohio were waiting up to seven hours to cast their ballots. Some people were still in line early Wednesday.

Such long lines are less common in California, where an increasing number of people are choosing to vote by mail.

The LINE Act is short for the “Lines Interfere with National Elections Act.”

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.

Raul Ruiz bursts ahead of Rep. Mary Bono Mack in latest election tallies

Dr. Raul Ruiz speaks Tuesday during a results watching party. (Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun)


Challenger Dr. Raul Ruiz surged ahead in his race for the 36th Congressional District in the latest tally released Friday evening.

He now leads by 7,268 votes over the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

Ruiz has 94,633 votes (52%) to her 87,365 (48%).

The Republican incumbent flew out of Palm Springs on Friday afternoon amid a national report she had conceded.

See the statement Mary Bono Mack issued about one hour after the results.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters has now counted 559,089 votes countywide since polls closed late Tuesday.

It still has about 123,000 ballots to count — or about 18 percent of the vote. The uncounted ballots are 49,500 of vote-by-mail ballots left to count, as well as 60,000 provisional and 13,500 damaged ones.

The registrar has not been able to say how many of those votes could count toward the Congressional race.

The next update will be released at 6 p.m. Saturday.

In other close Coachella Valley races, challenger Chip Yarborough now leads Cathedral City Mayor Kathy DeRosa by 208 votes.

None of the leaders in valley races changed with the latest round of updates.


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.

Tuesday’s election by the numbers

The Secretary of State today released a handful of statistics that give voters a preview of Tuesday’s election by the numbers.

There are:

18,245,970 Californians registered to vote;

24,491 voting precincts statewide;

154 legislative and congressional seats on the ballot, including the 36th Congressional race and two Assembly districts that impact the Coachella Valley;

320 federal and state candidates vying for your vote;

9.1 million vote-by-mail ballots issued;

3,820,545 voters having “no political party preference;”

7,966,422 registered Democrats and

5,356,608 registered Republicans.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters is expecting about 75 percent of the county’s voters will participate in Tuesday’s election.

Statewide, the highest turnout for a presidential election was reached in 1964 when 88.4 percent of voters participated. The lowest was in 1996, when 65.5 percent of registered voters statewide cast a ballot.

Dems, GOP hold get-out-the-vote rallies

Both the Republicans and the Democrats are holding rallies this week as part of the bipartisan effort to get voters to the polls.

Republcians, who held a rally Tuesday night for Rep. Mary Bono Mack, will hold a similar celebration this Thursday. This one is done in conjunction with Indio Mayor Glenn Miller’s campaign. It starts at 6 p.m. at a private home in Indio’s Country Estates. Information: (760) 899-2772

Democrats have three get-out-the-vote rallies planned in partnership with congressional challenger Raul Ruiz’s campaign:

– Saturday: Supporters will meet at 1 p.m. at El Mexicali Cafe in Indio, 82720 Indio Blvd.

– Monday: Democrats will gather at at noon at Frances Stevens Park in Palm Springs. They’ll also meet at 6 p.m. in Coachella at 49-305 Grapefruit Blvd.

Information: (760) 969-8459

In addition, Democratic Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez is holding a get-out the-vote effort Saturday that’s focused on Latino voters. It starts at 3 p.m. at 1494 Sixth Street in Coachella. Actress Rosario Dawson, who co-founded Voto Latino, will be featured.

The event was announced through Perez’s legislative office, indicating it will not be focused on just one candidate’s campaign.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters expects about 75 percent of all registered voters will cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election. The county is already counting the vote-by-mail ballots that have been cast.

Although Latino voters are traditionally harder to get to the polls, a national survey released this week indicates 87 percent of Latino voters will participate this year.

Updated as of 2 p.m. Nov. 1:

Bono Mack’s campaign has just announced that supporters will rally in San Jacinto on Saturday. Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Redlands Republican who represents many of the western areas in the new 36th, will be among the speakers. The rally starts at 11 a.m. at Estudillo Mansion, 150 S. Dillon Ave.

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.