The ballot counting at the Riverside County Registrar of Voters’ Office is “going good” and preparations are being finalized for Tuesday’s primary election.
According to interim Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer, by close of business Friday, county officials had received 102,145 ballots, of which more than 90,000 had already been processed and were waiting to be posted online with the first results that will roll out after polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’re telling anyone who hasn’t already mailed their ballot at this point to drop it here at our Gateway Drive office or at their local city clerk’s office,” Spencer told City News Service. “If they haven’t mailed it by Tuesday, they need to drop the ballot at their local polling place or come here.”
She said as long as ballots bear a Tuesday postmark, they’ll still be tabulated; they just won’t be included in election night results.
“Things are going good,” Spencer said. “We’re not expecting any issues.”
The bulk of ballots will be counted and posted by 3 a.m. June 4, according to Spencer. Late-arriving, provisional and damaged ballots will take longer to process, but their numbers should be small.
According to the registrar, the county saw voter registrations pick up ahead of the May 19 deadline. The county has a total 887,643 registered voters.
Spencer anticipated a 30 percent participation rate in the June 3 election, translating to about 266,000 votes being cast. The vast majority of those will be mail-in ballots, of which just over 500,000 were sent out, she said.
The 102,145 ballots received by the end of this week compares to 114,908 at the same time in the 2012 primary and 69,405 during the 2010 primary, Spencer said.
According to data posted on the registrar’s website, with the exception of 2010, every primary election in the county going back to 2006 had voter participation rates of less than 28 percent. In 2010, the rate was 31 percent.
“We do see larger turnouts when there are contests that seem to be of particular interest,” Spencer said, acknowledging that the county district attorney’s race in 2010 had been “heated,” much like the one now between D.A.
Paul Zellerbach and veteran prosecutor Mike Hestrin.
She said 250 temporary employees will work alongside the registrar’s 32 full-time staffers to get the ballots counted using the county’s 13 Sequoia Optech scanners, which are advertised as scanning 400 ballots per minute, but in reality go much slower because of how ballots are configured.
Spencer said the majority of ballots are the “one-card” variety, with selections available on either side. However, because of a water district measure in the Coachella Valley, ballots from that part of the county are two-carded, taking slightly longer to scan.
There will be 545 polling stations open countywide on election day, according to Spencer.
She told CNS that in previous elections, the highest volume of voter foot traffic was in Highgrove, Jurupa Valley, Norco, Menifee and Temecula.