Fresno County preparing for November election

October 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The November election is less than a month away and workers at the Fresno County Elections Office are busy getting ready to count every vote.

Officials are making sure, this election is smoother than ones in past years.

Prem Nagra of Fresno came to the Fresno County Elections Office to make sure her voice is heard with her vote.

She'll be out of the country on election day so she's casting her ballot now.

"That's very important for the country for the future, and some things are very critical, especially immigration laws," Nagra said.

In the next few weeks, the elections office will pick up the pace as voters trickle in before the big rush on November 6.

This is the first major election for new Fresno County Clerk Brandi Orth.

"The Fresno County Elections office is definitely ready for the November election," Orth said.

Orth expects a 70% voter turnout because of the high interest of a presidential election and the numerous issues on the ballot affecting everyone in the county.

She says, challenging issues in the past, such as budget strains, closed polling places and voter confusion, have been addressed.

"We've established all of our polling sites. We've increased them to 272. We're putting all the logistics together on how to coll

ect all the ballot materials on election night," Orth said. Inside the elections office, ballots are pulled for voters who come the polling place. On election night, voting results are uploaded into a secure server that's not connected to the web to avoid tampering.

And for the thousands of absentee voters, your ballot will be in the mail.

168,000 absentee ballots are ready to be mailed Tuesday, along with 392,000 sample ballots. They would have gone out today, if it wasn't a holiday. And new this election year, is a feature called "track my mail". In a week, you can call the elections office to find out exactly when your ballot was put in your mail carrier's bag. Also new, 9 drive through stations throughout the county where you can drop off your signed ballot without leaving your car.

Inside the elections warehouse a fan is used to wind test a drive-thru drop off station.

Workers say they're ready to stay at the 9 stations in any kind of weather to collect and process ballots. Racks of voting materials have been sorted, counted and prepared for distribution to the polling sites.

Inside this secure area, workers are testing the optical scanners that go inside ballot boxes that check every selection made by the voter.

The elections office says it's better prepared this year than in previous years. Now voters just have to make sure their ballots get counted in time.

"It has to either be dropped off at a polling location or our downtown office or already be in the mail stream and be received by us on election day. That's very important," Orth said.

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