Absentee, provisional ballots counted; 32 disqualified

A staff of seven city employees and two outside consultants labored last week over the ballot count from the April 11 Malibu City Council election.

City Clerk Virginia Bloom supervised a staff that counted provisional and absentee ballots and performed a manual accuracy check on the computerized count of precinct 208, Bluffs Park.

Provisional ballots were generated from Malibu residents who showed up at polling places without their voter registration cards but still wished to vote. The ballot was later sent to the county registrar’s office in Norwalk for verification of address and eligibility, allowing the resident to vote at that location.

Of 126 provisional ballots, only 94 were approved. According to Bloom, 32 of the votes were disqualified for either of two reasons: residents failed to register by the cut-off date or residents were not registered at all.

Polling places changed slightly from recent county elections. Several precincts were combined, lowering the number from 13 locations to 10.

The detailed process began when city employees opened individually sealed provisional and absentee ballots, counted them and cleared each one from punch holes that could cause the counting machine to malfunction. The ballots were then fed into the counting machine operated by Eric Grahm and Doug Marshal of the election consulting firm, Martin and Chapman. The number was added to the amount of votes received on election night.

Each candidate’s name was read off the ballot and marked on a dry-erase board by two employees performing their own separate count. After five votes for each candidate were recorded, a “tally” was called from the employees at the board. The tally confirmed that they both arrived at the same number of votes.

To ensure accuracy, another employee sitting next to the employee reading the names confirmed the names being called off the ballots. Clerk Bloom oversaw the entire process. The accuracy check was determined to be error free, after the results of the manual count correctly matched the computer count.

New state legislation requires that the results must be certified by the City Counci the second Tuesday after an election l and announced at the next meeting, which was set for April 25.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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