http://www.thedesertsun.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060404/NEWS0301/604040330/1006

The Desert Sun

Palm Springs, CA

 

Pre-election voting an early hit

 

Colin Atagi

The Desert Sun

April 4, 2006

 

Dwayne and Berrylynn Freeby of Rancho Mirage aren't waiting until election day to choose their next City Council representatives.

 

The Freebys got their voting chores out of the way Monday, more than a week before the April 11 election.

 

"Now we can plan out what we're doing the rest of (the week)," Dwayne Freeby said.

 

The Freebys were among about 60 registered Rancho Mirage voters who took advantage of an early voting system the city is offering for the first time - with the blessing of California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

 

"People like to vote on their own timeline, and if they want to vote on another day besides election day, then they should be allowed that choice," he said.

 

But although people may vote as early as four weeks before an election with an absentee ballot, McPherson recommends they don't jump the gun.

 

"A lot of things can be said and done within the last month of a campaign," he said.

 

McPherson was on hand outside the Rancho Mirage Public Library, where Riverside County's Registration Outreach Voting Education Resource, also known as ROVER, was parked. The 34-foot custom-built bus with built-in voting equipment, introduced late last year, is the only one of its kind in the state, McPherson said.

 

The voting machines, with large flat-screen computer monitors, produce a paper trail that provides voters with printouts to verify whom they voted for.

 

The system gives voters three chances to make changes to their votes, said Riverside County Registrar of Voters Barbara Dunmore.

 

Early voting lasts through Sunday.

 

Next week's election will be the first one in the Coachella Valley in which ballots will be transmitted electronically from the Indio Courthouse to the Riverside County Registar of Voter's Office for counting instead of being driven there.

 

County officials have said the first results could be tallied and available on the county's Web site by 8:15 p.m.

 

The valley's election results weren't available online until after midnight for the November election, when drivers delivered the ballots to Riverside.

 

On Monday, voter Morty Reifer found the voting process simple.

 

"It's easy; all you had to do was read and follow directions," he said.

 

Other Coachella Valley officials also were impressed by the portable voting machine.

 

"If there are any special elections in Palm Springs, we hope to use (ROVER)," said Palm Springs City Clerk James Thompson, who was on site.

 

It wouldn't be surprising for more portable voting vehicles to pop up in the future, McPherson said.

 

"There will be a lot of these things to come, and Riverside (County) is ahead of the period," he said.

 

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson visits the Rancho Mirage public library, where a new traveling Poll Station RV was parked for the first day of early voting on Monday.

Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun

 

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson visits the Rancho Mirage public library, where a new traveling Poll Station RV was parked for the first day of early voting on Monday.

WHERE TO VOTE EARLY
The Rancho Mirage City Council election is April 11

Registered voters who wish to cast their ballots early may do so from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday outside the Rancho Mirage Public Library, 71-100 Highway 111.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Rancho Mirage City Council election will be only the second California election to use a paper trail system during the voting process. The system allows voters to verify whom they picked in an election. The first was Riverside's January run-off election.

Copyright 2006 The Desert Sun