Archive for Wednesday, April 7, 1999

GENERAL ELECTION DRAWS FEW VOTERS

April 7, 1999

Advertisement

While the county courthouse was packed with candidates and supporters waiting for the final returns Tuesday night, the polling places had little action during the day.

Only 23 percent of registered voters turned out in Douglas County.

"That's fairly low," Douglas County Clerk Patty Jaimes said, even for a spring election with no state or national races. "We've had them be 30 percent."

More than 27 percent of the registered voters cast ballots during the last spring general election in 1997.

"I can't really say why people don't vote," Jaimes said.

With the light turnout, polling places ran smoothly, Jaimes said. However, her office did have to take extra ballots to a few sites.

The ballot count went smoothly, too. Douglas County's unofficial results were available only an hour and a half after the polls closed.

"We were done counting by 8:30," Jaimes said.

That was partially due to the loan of new scanning and tallying equipment from Election Systems & Software.

The company brought two new scanners and a computer with election software for the clerk's office to use instead of their 13-year-old equipment.

"There's just so many advances that have been made in the technology," Don Blakely, ES&S regional vice president, said. The new system is faster, counting 400 ballots a minute versus 275, and using diskettes and a computer to tally the votes instead of a tape system.

The county's older equipment still works, Jaimes said, but the eight-track tapes that record the information are wearing down. And with the old equipment, election officials have had to print out tallies from two ballot scanners and add the numbers manually, instead of feeding them through a compiling machine.

"There was always a chance for error," Jaimes said.

Official vote totals will not be available until Friday morning, when the Douglas County Board of Canvassers certifies the results of the election.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.