Ballot counting runs smooth despite Tahoe delay
PLACERVILLE – El Dorado County elections headquarters buzzed late into the evening as poll workers sifted through absentee ballots while county officials buzzed from room to room, awaiting the arrival of as many as 105,000 ballots from precincts throughout the county.
However, returns for South Lake Tahoe ran later than expected when a U-Haul truck and a California Highway Patrol escort left the South Shore at 10:22 p.m. The ballots had not arrived in Placerville by the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s press deadline.
Despite the delay, ballot counting went smoothly on the West Slope.
A sheriff’s deputy strolled through the rooms, providing security.
“I’m amazed, it’s gone very smoothly. There have been no hiccups,” said Bill Schultz, recorder, clerk and registrar for El Dorado County. He said the turnout has been more than the governor recall election last fall, which had record voter numbers.
All South Shore California ballots were collected at the Recorder Clerk’s office in South Lake Tahoe and loaded on the truck.
“We’ve never done that before, but I just felt it was prudent to do it this time,” Shultz said.
Some polling places experienced waits of nearly two hours. Schultz attributed some of that to the learning curve for new voters.
“The big thing was some of the voters were confused, voting for the first time,” Schultz said.
Beverly Garcia was one of about 20 poll workers and paid office “extras” sifting through ballots to remove chads and prepare them for the counting machines. She has been working elections since 1992, and looks forward to the excitement.
“It’s very interesting, you certainly learn how it’s handled,” said Garcia. “You learn a lot about how they qualify people (to vote). They are very fair.”
These election workers average 72 years old in the nation, said Schultz. They receive two hours of training and require no sort of clearance.
At 8 p.m., when polls closed, voters were still running into the office to vote or deposit their absentee ballots. Small, pink round or square chads littered the empty poll boxes by 8:01 p.m.
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