El Dorado had no problem with ‘butterfly ballot’ | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado had no problem with ‘butterfly ballot’

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

In the wake of Florida voters’ frustrations with election ballots, officials on both sides of the California-Nevada border say South Shore residents should have faith in their local election process.

Michele MacIntyre, El Dorado County’s registrar of voters for 20 years, said the amount of what the county calls “over votes” or mispunched ballots is minuscule.

“We get very few (over votes) because we have a very different voting system,” MacIntyre said. “It’s a much more accurate system and we do an extensive hand count up front.”

Barbara Reed, secretary-treasurer of Douglas County for 27 years, said the Nevada county uses the same reliable system as the Florida counties that have been called into question.

“(The hanging chad) is not as big of an issue as they’re talking about in Florida,” Reed said about the perforated hole that is punched out of the ballot. “I don’t know if they just have so many voters and their equipment isn’t clean, but we don’t have a lot of hanging chads.”

Reed said there are maybe one or two absentee ballots that are mispunched, but even ballots that aren’t punched out all the way, can still be read.

Reed said if there is a hanging chad, election staff usually just brushes the back of the ballot and it falls off. Douglas County uses a machine that counts the votes at 1,000 ballots per minute, which Reed said is similar to Florida’s equipment.

“It’s been a really reliable system,” Reed said. “I don’t understand what they’re doing in Florida.”

While many counties in the country, like El Dorado, are still awaiting absentee ballots to decide candidates’ fate, Reed said Douglas County elections are final.

For example, only 93 votes separated the Area 3 school board candidates George Echan and Bill Laughlin. Echan retained his seat on the board by garnering 6,989 votes.

According to Nevada law, Reed said all absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on election day and all of those absentee votes have been counted. Although Reed said candidates could file a challenge to the election up until 5 p.m. today.

While Douglas County public officials are preparing to enter their newly won seats, El Dorado County Board of Supervisors’ candidates Ken Bush and Helen Baumann are anxiously awaiting the 600 absentee ballots that are still being counted.

Baumann and Bush are separated by 291 votes, with Baumann in the lead. MacIntyre said she has never seen an absentee hand count change the outcome of a race but said it is possible in this one.

MacIntyre said she hoped to have the official count by Friday.

Emily Aughinbaugh can be reached at eaughinbaugh@tahoe.com or (530) 541-3880, ext. 261

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