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Orange County

County to Buy 4 Optical Ballot Scanners in Time for Recall

September 24, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

Orange County took the final steps Tuesday to prepare for the Oct. 7 election, agreeing to buy four optical scan machines that will be used to count hundreds of thousands of ballots expected to be cast in the state's first gubernatorial recall election.

County voters will use pen and paper to cast votes, filling in small boxes next to the name of their candidate of choice.

The ballots will be fed through optical scan devices, including the four that the Board of Supervisors agreed to buy Tuesday for $43,000 and an additional 20 that are being leased for about $80,000.

In all, the recall will cost the county at least $1.5 million.

Counting will take longer than with punch-card devices used in previous elections but is considered highly accurate, said Steve Rodermund, the county's interim registrar of voters.

Rodermund is encouraging Orange County voters to cast absentee ballots, which would ease the election-night crunch.

Election officials have issued about 251,000 absentee ballots to Orange County voters, Rodermund said. Of those, about 82,000 have been returned, he said.

Rodermund said he's hoping that 350,000 people vote absentee. The county has 1.34 million registered voters.

"Now that the election has been put on track, we'll see if that makes a difference in applications to vote absentee," Rodermund said.

Election workers will start opening and counting the absentee ballots Oct. 1. All ballots cast before Oct. 7 will be counted before polls close that day.

It will take several hours for election workers to process the ballots cast at the polls, Rodermund said.

Applications for absentee ballots must arrive at the registrar of voters office by Sept. 30.

The applications are available on the sample ballots mailed to registered voters.

Voters who miss the Sept. 30 deadline can fill out an absentee ballot at the office of the registrar of voters on South Grand Avenue in Santa Ana.

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