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Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Corrects Toner Shadows so all Votes are Counted

Early Detection Assures that Every Vote Counts

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters corrected a problem that was causing a high number of ballots to be mechanically sorted by the Optical Character Reader (OCR) as ballots containing write-in candidates.

“We noticed that a higher number of ballots than usual were being set aside by the OCR,” said Jesse Durazo, Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. “Upon reviewing those ballots, they did not contain write-in candidates, so we knew there must be another reason.”

Of the first 100,000 ballots processed, about one in six had been identified as a write-in ballot by the OCR. Upon closer inspection of the ballots, the Registrar determined that the source of the problem was shadows in the target area, related to toner used by ProVote, the ballot printing company. The Registrar’s staff was able to remove the toner shadows from the target areas without disturbing the lines filled in with ink by voters. The 100,000 ballots previously processed were cancelled, and re-inducted through the Optical Character Reader after the toner shadows were removed.

“Thanks to our staff’s early detection of this issue, we were able to remedy the problem with the Vote by Mail ballots, and ensure that all the ballots at polls tomorrow will be counted correctly,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith.

As an added precaution, all ballots for use at polling precincts were re-inspected at the ROV warehouse and any toner shadows found have been removed.

The Registrar of Voters also advised the Secretary of State of the initial problem and the remedy. It is estimated that 235,000 Vote by Mail ballots will be in the first results released tomorrow evening.

An estimated 467,000 voters are expected to participate in this mid-term election, including about 117,000 walk-in voters at polling precincts. Due to the high voter turnout and the length of the ballots - about 70 percent will have sets of three ballot cards - all precinct results may not be tallied until after 6:00 a.m., Wednesday morning.

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Laurel Anderson, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119
Elma Rosas ROV Media Officer (408) 282-3008
Posted: November 1, 2010