Election Night: Busy at VC Elections Division, quieter at SP City Hall

November 10, 2010
Santa Paula News

Election Night was a busy one at the Ventura County Elections Division office, where many candidates gathered for the first release of the vote by mail ballots.

Janice Gallegly, wife of Representative Elton Gallegly, was on her cell phone outside the division office talking to a family member as the clock hit 8 p.m. “Every time it gets harder,” especially now with more issues to be addressed, said Gallegly, who didn’t have to wait long to learn her husband was well on his way to being reelected to his 13th term representing the 24th Congressional District.

Inside, Representative Gallegly was talking to County Clerk-Recorder Mark Lunn and others who gathered for the first count. “I never take anything for granted,” said Gallegly, who noted his appreciation of his supporters.

November 2 was Lunn’s first time out leading the department that governs elections. Easily the winner in the June primary to replace retired Clerk-Recorder Phil Schmidt, Lunn was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to takeover the job early so he could oversee the election that featured new equipment to ease vote tabulation.

“To hold democracy in your hands” and watch the peaceful transition of government is a dream job, said Lunn. “We just turned out 85,000-plus votes,” said Lunn, 25,000 more ballots processed for the first release than in 2008.

The speed is attributable to the new equipment that accelerated vote by mail signature verification and the extraction of ballots from envelopes. Nevertheless, Lunn said the office received a “deluge” of vote by mail ballots that evening before the 8 p.m. deadline. With the last minute ballots would be a delay in releasing the final vote count, but, noted Lunn, “We’ll be at least five to seven days ahead” of the final results of the 2008 election, which had lagged for weeks.

Lunn spent the earlier part of Election Day visiting precinct polling locations, with a stop in Newbury Park where he presented certificates to two volunteers who had worked a combined 110 years helping voters.

Deputy County Clerk Olivia Lopez said it was going to be a long night: “We’ll work to maybe 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.,” then be back Wednesday for more vote tabulating.

At Santa Paula City Hall, Deputy City Clerk Peggy Higgins was waiting with Santa Paula Fire personnel for ballot boxes to come in. Having overseen the local June Primary Election - her first - Higgins said she knew what to expect. The ballot box from St. Paul’s Episcopal/Emmanuel Lutheran Church had been delivered at about 8:30 p.m. - “Same as last year!” - but Higgins said she still expected it might be a long night before the remaining dozen polling places made their deliveries.

In years past City Hall was a popular gathering place on Election Night, with blackboards being regularly updated with election results, the television turned on for state and national results, and the sound of excited election chatter in the background. Higgins had refreshments out, but she didn’t expect much company: “Everyone has a computer nowadays... they can stay home and get the results as soon as they are posted.”

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