Renovation of S. B. County registrar of voters' office begins
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08:26 AM PDT on Wednesday, September 19, 2007
A tangle of wires, exposed pipe and bare, torn walls greet visitors to the San Bernardino County registrar of voters' office.
The county has begun a $3.4 million renovation of the offices on East Rialto Avenue in San Bernardino even as the registrar's staff is preparing for four elections over the next year and a change in voting systems.
The project, which will add 5,145 square feet of space to the complex, is the first expansion since the registrar's office moved into the building in 1979.
Registrar Kari Verjil said the improvements have been on the top of her list since she took over two years ago.
"We're running out of space," she said.
The staff has grown along with the number of voters over the years, but the workers have continued to operate in the same space, Verjil said. Training for poll workers sometimes spills into the hallway when they form groups because of tight space.
The number of absentee voters has increased from 13,901 in 1976 to about 200,000 in 2006, but staff still has had to use the same 900-square-foot room for counting ballots.
The renovated office will include a 2,000-square-foot room dedicated to poll worker training with a more user-friendly classroomlike setup. Verjil expects to train about 3,000 poll workers for the Nov. 6 election. The room, a former cafeteria that sat vacant for five years, can double as a media center on election nights, she said.
The absentee-ballot room is being expanded to 4,300 square feet. The layout will allow for the painstaking tasks involved in sorting and counting ballots to be separated into a logical flow, starting with the delivery of the ballots, their verification and sorting, counting by computer and then storage.
"You're not going to be bouncing around like a pingpong ball," Verjil said, describing what the process was like under the current setup.
The counting process will be visible to observers through a glass wall, an improvement over the current observation room that has a few windows, she said.
"The plan is to present an open environment for our voters," Verjil said.
The front area is being redesigned with a larger counter space and employees who deal with the public most often -- candidate and voter registration services -- situated nearby.
The renovations had been planned for early next year, with completion by April, but were moved up after the primary was split into a February presidential primary and a June state primary.
The work is expected to be complete by Dec. 1, just in time for the office to start preparing for the February primary, Verjil said.
A second phase of the expansion, in which a mezzanine will be added to the warehouse area, will take place next year after the primary.
Since Aug. 20, when work began, the registrar's staff has been housed in a smaller office in the same building down a series of hallways. Employees made the transition to their temporary office over a weekend without any difficulties, Verjil said.
In addition to the renovations, the office is switching from electronic voting to paper ballots for this November's election, when some city, college and school district races are being held. Voter turnout typically is lower in such off-year elections and Verjil said the smaller election will allow her staff time to be ready for the transition.
Last month, Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified electronic voting machines used by San Bernardino, Riverside and other counties, citing security concerns. Counties were ordered to switch to different systems by February.
San Bernardino County will use optical-scan ballots, the same it uses for absentee ballots. At least one touch-screen machine still will be available at each polling place under Bowen's order. The rest of the machines will sit stacked in the registrar's warehouse.
Riverside County also is planning to use optical-scan ballots but has asked Sequoia Voting Systems, the vendor for its voting equipment, to lend ballot counting equipment for the February primary.
Reach Imran Ghori at 909-806-3061 or ighori@PE.com
BS Ranch Perspective
It is totally unusual to me that they would request to have the Electronic Voter Machines Deactivated even if the Volume of Voters is down when there is an off year to the voting year! I have to say that if they kept the Electronic Machines in use at this time that the Voting Public would have been up rather then down for this time of year! As the Voters have been up over all because of the Electronic Machines.
It is my belief that the Democratic Controlled San Bernardino Offices of the Registrar of Voter's Knows that the Electronic Voting Machines have brought New Voters to VOTE!! The Democratic Registrar of Voters has requested and won to go back to the Optical Voting Machines, because the Democrats of California Found that they were more Successful when they used the Optical counting Machines, They found that they were more successful when they used that method of voting and so they want to go back to that method of counting votes, since The Computer, Electronic Counting machine counts the Votes right then and there, it draws more voters to Vote, however in my area the more voters are Republican Voters!! That is not good for them, so they want to go back to the old way of voting and make it so that there are less voters to come in and vote, and that way there might be more control on the count, as everyone knows that there are so much more ways to Modify the count on a Optical Eye Paper count, Every time that they did a recount of the presidential Campaign regarding President Bush, and Presidential Candidate Gore, in 2004, the count was different every time, especially in Florida, let alone in California.
Yet this is the system that they the Democrats want to go to, especially since the Democrats are in charge of the Federal Government for the Election!!! Very Interesting.....as the Detective Would Say with the Very Thick German Accent!! Very Interesting...Indeed!!