May 21, 2009 - Riverside County voting wins praise from group
Paper: Press-Enterprise, The ( Riverside, CA)
Title: Riverside County voting wins praise from group
Date: May 21, 2009
Author: DUANE W. GANG, THE PRESS-ENTERPRISE
A watchdog group critical of how Riverside County has handled past elections said Wednesday that Tuesday's special election vote went smoothly with added accountability.
Temecula-based Save R Vote monitored Tuesday's election and praised Registrar Barbara Dunmore for putting a series of safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of cast ballots.
"This was the most improved, smoothest election that I have seen in seven elections," said Tom Courbat, the group's founder.
The safeguards came from an audit led by Grover Trask, a former district attorney.
The measures included adding a redesigned ballot statement that precinct workers fill out to account for ballots and signatures, adding a form at ballot collection centers for workers to report if there is something wrong with ballot boxes and installing two computer monitors at the registrar's headquarters for observers to monitor ballot counting.
"This proves they could do it in a big election. It didn't result in that much additional work," Courbat said. "It gives a higher degree of accountability."
Dunmore said Wednesday that the light election turnout made it the perfect time to unveil the measures.
"We wanted to put them in place as quick as possible," she said. "We worked very hard on that."
Dunmore said she is pleased to hear that Save R Vote found the improvements well executed.
Still, the group remains critical of Riverside County for what it sees as the over use of electronic touch-screen voting machines.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the use of touch-screen voting machines in 2007, citing security vulnerabilities. She then set conditions for their limited use.
In Tuesday's election, poll workers asked voters whether they wanted to use a paper ballot or an electronic machine.
"There's an agenda here, and the agenda here is to prove people like electronic voting when given the choice. It is not about liking," Courbat said. "People like to drive 120 on the freeway, but it is not safe. You cannot adequately secure these machines."
Courbat criticized the county for not informing voters at polling sites that there have been issues surrounding the machines.
Dunmore said her office must offer voters the choice. She said poll workers can't provide a history of the machines to each voter, and if voters have questions, they can contact her office.
The use of electronic voting machines Tuesday complied with election rules, she said.
"We did see precincts where there were more votes cast on the electronic voting unit than on paper ballots," Dunmore said. "That is a choice made by the voter."
On Tuesday, there were 28,148 votes cast on electronic machines, about 41 percent of the ballots cast at precincts, Dunmore said.
Riverside County had at least three precincts, two in Corona and one in Murrieta, where all the votes were cast on the electronic machines, Dunmore said. Fifty-seven precincts didn't have any votes cast on electronic machines.
Edition: ALL ZONES
Section: LOCAL PLUS
Record Number: 862006
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