Politicians criticize Riverside County's beleaguered voting system

Voters fill out ballots at a polling place in a fire station on June 8, 2010 in Riverside, California.
Voters fill out ballots at a polling place in a fire station on June 8, 2010 in Riverside, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With thousands of ballots from last week’s primary election not yet counted, Riverside County’s Registrar of Voters is under fire from Democrats and Republicans.

The criticism follows years of problems with the county’s beleaguered voting system.

The registrar’s office was already taking heat for its slow count of last week’s election results.

Then came news that officials may throw out several thousand ballots because they did not arrive at the registrar’s office by the legal deadline on election night.

Two years ago the state decertified Riverside County’s multi-million dollar electronic voting system over questions of security and accuracy. So, the office delivers and tabulates ballots by hand.

The latest problems prompted a group of Coachella Valley Democrats to call for county Registrar Barbara Dunmore’s resignation.

Prominent Inland Republican leaders including Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs, joined the fray to demand an investigation.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit says he supports the probe, but he cautioned against a rush to judgment.

“There’s plenty of blame to be shared out there," he said. "I drove in on Thursday and watched as counting was being done of the mail-in ballots. I gotta tell you I walked through there and I saw what she was up against. I understand the huge challenge in trying to get this done in a timely fashion. But that doesn’t excuse some poor communication that went on.”

The registrar’s office blames miscommunication with the U.S. Postal Service for failure to receive more than 12-thousand election night ballots in time to be counted. On top of that, several thousand valid ballots wait to be tallied.

Riverside County’s chief executive officer will conduct a review of the Registrar’s election night procedures, and will recommend improvements that officials hope to have in place in time for November’s general election.