LA County just ran an election night simulation. How'd it go?

Voters cast their ballots in early voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office on October 22, 2008 in Norwalk, California.
Voters cast their ballots in early voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office on October 22, 2008 in Norwalk, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

On November 8, Dean Logan will be among the busiest people in the county — scratch that, in the country.

As the registrar/recorder county clerk for Los Angeles County, Logan is responsible for making sure that something like three million ballots are counted accurately and efficiently. Did we mention these ballots come from more than 4,500 polling locations spread out across 4,000-square miles?

That's why Logan oversaw an election night dress rehearsal on Saturday morning.

"The simulation is something we do the weekend before any election," Logan tells KPCC. "We simulate the process that takes place here at our headquarters Tuesday night after the polls close."

Logan explained how it works.

After 8 p.m., ballots are brought from their polling locations to 70 check-in centers located throughout the county. Then they're transported — either by sheriff's helicopter or sheriff's patrol car — to L.A. County offices in Norwalk, where they're counted centrally. Once they enter the building, they go through various processes until they're counted in the tabulation center, on the third floor.

Saturday's simulation isn't only about maintaining proper chain of custody and making sure the equipment works.

"The other reason we do this," Logan says, "is to provide a level of transparency. On election night when we're dealing with ballots, these operations are secured. But during the simulation, we let people come in and see firsthand all of the steps that are taken to insure that votes are accounted for and counted properly. In this particular election, given all the dialogue about voting systems and security, it was really important to be able to demonstrate that."

Logan says that after the polls close, usually between 8 and 8:20 p.m., his office releases the first results, tabulated from early voting and vote by mail ballots. At around 9:30 p.m., the registrar's office begins every posting updates to those election results, usually every 30 to 40 minutes, until all the ballots are accounted for.

"It could be early Wednesday morning before we have final unofficial election results," Logan says.

Even then, his job doesn't end.

The registrar's office won't receive a vote by mail ballots postmarked on election day until Wednesday or Thursday. And if it's a close race, ballots may need to be recounted. Election results don't get certified until December 2.

So how did Saturday's simulation go?

"It went really well," Logan says. "I think the key is anticipating volume and making sure we have the resources and capacity to support such a significant election."