In town election counting speeds up process |

In town election counting speeds up process

The whirring of a ballot-counting machine filled City Council chambers Tuesday night for the first time in the history of South Lake Tahoe.

The process went relatively smoothly and vote counting is expected to return to the city for major elections.

“It’s not historic, that’s taking it a little too far, but we feel very good about being able to provide this service,” said Michele Mac Intyre, head of El Dorado County Elections Department. “We’ll probably do it for the major elections in March and November.

“There were a couple of little glitches in the beginning with information not going over the modem as quickly as it should have, but there are always things to make changes to.”

The city, incorporated in 1965, has counted its own votes in the past by hand.

“It’s totally amazing,” said Sharon Lee, a resident of South Lake Tahoe for 26 years. “I think the counting being done here is just wonderful. You get the idea of what happens and how it happens.”

“It’s cool,” said Judy Days, a South Lake Tahoe resident for 18 years. “It’s time we brought Tahoe into the 21st century.”

About 50 people gathered in the chambers to talk, drink coffee, eat cookies and buzz around as a ballot reading machine clacked away. After each of the city’s 10 precincts were counted, a modem sent the information to the El Dorado County Elections Department in Placerville.

“It saves us three hours,” said Dave Solaro, El Dorado County supervisor representing South Shore. “We get the results at 10:30 p.m. instead of 1:30 a.m. It’s a service the county is providing that’s way overdue.”

To save money, the city in 1982 began to contract the job of vote counting to El Dorado County. Ever since, ballots had to be driven to Placerville by sheriff’s deputies to be counted. They wouldn’t arrive in Placerville until nearly 10:30 p.m., about the same time the ballots were finished being counted on Tuesday.

Votes continued to be driven to Placerville until September 2000 when the Elections Department first brought equipment to South Lake Tahoe to count votes for a special election. The election was for a bond initiative, Measure S, that raised money for recreation facilities.

The election became the test run for remote ballot counting in the city. It went well and gave the Elections Department the confidence to try it again.

— Greg Crofton can be reached at

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