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Riverside Official ‘Embarrassed’ Over Late Voting Results

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Election Returns

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — The chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors said Wednesday he was “embarrassed” and “very unhappy” that the county Registrar of Voters’ Office was late in releasing initial results from the general election.

The first Internet posting on the registrar’s website was after 9 p.m., and there was no indication of how many precincts were reporting.

Supervisor Marion Ashley told reporters that while he understood the reasons for the delay — a software glitch combined with last-minute voters holding up operations — he felt it reflected badly on the registrar, Barbara Dunmore.

“This is not a good thing for Barbara,” Ashley said. “She’s very diligent, very intelligent. You couldn’t ask for anybody to try harder. But this didn’t work out. Obviously, it doesn’t look good for her.”

According to Ashley, the board will discuss the matter at the start of its regular meeting Tuesday and ask Dunmore to explain what went wrong, as well as seek an explanation from county Executive Officer Bill Luna.

The chairman said he would like to have a franker talk with colleagues during closed session Tuesday but wasn’t sure whether that could happen because it’s a personnel issue, and the registrar and her staff fall under the immediate supervision of the Executive Office, not the board.

County spokesman Ray Smith said “a steady stream” of voters lined up Tuesday to cast or drop off ballots at the registrar’s headquarters at 2724 Gateway Drive in Riverside. By 8 p.m., when polls closed, several dozen voters were still in line, waiting to cast ballots.

“We couldn’t release results until after the last person in line finished (voting),” Smith said, citing California law.

By 8:45 p.m., the registrar’s office was prepared to post the results of 200,000 mail-in ballots that had been tallied, along with the initial results of precinct counts. But according to Smith, an unexplained coding error listed the number of precincts reporting as zero.

He said county staff tried unsuccessfully to fix the problem for another 20 minutes, at which point Dunmore decided to go ahead and release the results despite the error.

There was no updated tally until 11:20 p.m.

“The votes were counted in a timely manner, but they weren’t released in a timely manner,” said Ashley. “That’s what’s frustrating — they weren’t rolled out as promised.”

Dunmore told reporters last month that the first results would be posted on-line at 8:15 p.m.

“I feel embarrassed because we said the process would work, and here it is, we didn’t get it out,” Ashley said. “It’s embarrassing. We’re the only county not reporting results. It’s not good. I’m very unhappy about that.”

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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