Finishing up February and getting ready for April

Testing batteries and putting fresh rolls of paper in eSlate printersWe’ve been spending these last couple of days tying up loose ends from February and completing some preliminary steps before we really get into the heart of preparations for the April 8 Special Congressional Open Primary.

The one percent manual recount of the Feb. 5 Presidential Primary was finished up earlier this week, and the vote will be certified on Tuesday. Watch for it!

Election folk are now busy updating our voter participation records from February polling place rosters. (Remember the roster you signed on Election Day? It serves as the official paper record that you voted in the election; we also transfer that information, voter by voter, to electronic voter registration records.)

We are also archiving ballot data from the eSlates used on Feb. 5. When your vote is cast electronically, it is actually recorded in three different places to ensure adequate backup. All that data has to be removed and archived for storage, wiping the slates – no pun intended – clean for the next election.

Furthermore, we’re testing batteries on nearly 2,000 eSlate printers, (lined up on the shelves here) which provide a paper verification of how you voted, and putting fresh rolls of paper in each.

Hundreds of eSlate printers lined up on the shelf

Right around the corner – as in, next week – we will be sending Sample Ballots & Official Voter Information Pamphlets, as well as official ballots, off to be printed and mailed. We’ll also begin conducting Logic & Accuracy (L&A) testing on the eSlates. (L&A testing is all about making sure that the programs installed on voting equipment, as well as the equipment itself, read and record votes the way voters intend. Read more about it.)

All of this has to be done by March 10 14, which is when early voting begins.

“The challenge is to turn all this around and be ready to roll two weeks from now,” said Elections Manager David Tom. “The good thing, though, is that the L&A shouldn’t take very long, because you only have one contest.”

That is true. There is just one race on April 8 – an open primary to fill the unexpired term for the 12th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, who held the seat, died on Feb. 11. On Wednesday, the California Secretary of State preliminarily named the five candidates vying for the seat, but the list will not be officially certified until Monday.

The order of the names on the ballot rotates by state assembly district, and we’ve got three of them, so that means three different versions of the ballot. Each of those ballots must also be in Chinese and English, for a total of nine versions that must be tested.

But, “that is very, very simple and straightforward compared to the last election,” Tom said. We had 153 ballot types for the Feb. 5 Presidential Primary.

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