10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, August 7, 2011
Riverside County’s new elections chief is facing an ironic twist.
Kari Verjil took over as registrar of voters in February after serving as the top elections official in San Bernardino County.
Now, she is eyeing ways to improve Riverside County’s vote-counting operations, which came under criticism last year amid the slow posting of results.
Part of Verjil’s effort is finding additional ballot-counting machines.
The county currently has six Sequoia Optech 400C scanners to count paper ballots.
By comparison, San Bernardino and Santa Clara counties, which use the same machines, both have 14.
Sequoia no longer regularly manufactures the Optech 400C scanners.
The cost to build a new one to order would be $100,000, Verjil told supervisors in June.
The county was leasing two extra machines for the November 2010 election to help speed vote-counting efforts.
So why not just buy those? They were bought by another county.
“They went to San Bernardino when I was there,” Verjil said in a recent interview.
“I was ramping up operations in San Bernardino before I knew I was coming here.
“So those machines were bought by that registrar that used to be there,” Verjil added.
“I wanted to make sure San Bernardino was in a good position.”
Verjil said she and her successor in San Bernardino County, Michael Scarpello, have joked about the situation, which she describes as odd.
She said she knew coming into the job in Riverside County that she would have to search for new machines. She said she still is working to find used ones to save the county money.
“I am actively pursuing that,” she said.
“I want those in here for the primary and the vendor is quite aware of that.”
Soon after his 2010 defeat at the hands of Rep. Mary Bono Mack , Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet announced he was considering another run against her in 2012.
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