The Golden Hall Blues
Of course accuracy is the first order of business in elections. And the new optical scan ballots are better than the old punch card ballots. Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler says the reason it takes so much longer for the results to come in now is because the optical scan ballots take longer to count. I remember seeing those punch cards flying through the counting machines at the registrar's office, poll workers scurrying around with big boxes of them in their arms. I don't know if the optical scan ballots have to be fed in one at a time, but it sure seems like the whole process slowed down!
It's true, the initial absentee results are much more significant now than they were, even four years ago. In those days it was risky to assume the early returns predicted the outcome, and many a disappointed candidate watched their fledgling lead evaporate as & the night wore on. This all added to the excitement, of course. Golden Hall was a boiling pot of gossip, wonder and speculation. You could hardly work your way across the room between all the movers and shakers with their entourages, rubbing shoulders with the average San Diego citizens who came for the fun of it all.
Seiler tells me that this election, the initial "hit" of results -- & the mail-in ballots that arrived after polls closed at 8 p.m. -- were an astonishing 57 percent of all the votes that were counted that night. Turn out was so low (only 370,000 voters countywide, that's 27 percent) that the mail-in ballots pretty much accurately predicted the outcome.
Next November's election night will obviously be a much bigger deal, as voters turn out in droves for the presidential race. But if it's going to take so long to get the San Diego precinct results out, maybe someone should hire a band or start taking bets, just to keep the people from drifting off home before the final results come in.