City predicts a quick vote count

New machine allows mail-in ballots to be tallied much quicker than in the past.

February 21, 2011|By Melanie Hicken,

CITY HALL — Candidates will likely be spending less time glued to the television watching for election night returns in April after the city clerk’s office institutes several measures to speed up the ballot-counting process.

With the help of a new automated signature-verification machine, Glendale election officials will be able to speed the processing of mailed-in ballots, which typically make up roughly a quarter of ballots cast.

“We will be able to do the verification in-house at a very expedited rate,” said City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian. “It cuts down hours of manual labor of looking stuff up.”


Kassakhian will oversee three municipal elections on April 5 for City Council, Glendale Unified school board and the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees.

The use of the new machines are among a series of changes planned for the election, some of which stem from recommendations made by city auditors after the 2007 and 2009 municipal elections.

While auditors found that the city clerk’s office had adequate measures in place to ensure ballots were properly handled and counted, they noted a variety of ways the process could be improved.

Other recommendations set to be implemented include increased election staffing, a formal training program for election workers and enhanced ballot check-in processes, according to a city report.

“The issues that they raised in the audit report, I think, are valid,” Mayor Ara Najarian said. “All of us wanted to make sure that people only get to vote once, and that everyone who does vote has their vote counted. That’s just the basic premise of our system.”

As an increasing number of Glendale voters are choosing to vote by mail, auditors paid special attention to how those ballots were handled, officials said.

“As we start to move into a more vote-by-mail trend, it’s important that we also shift some of our resources to ensuring the safeguards for that system,” Najarian said.

Representatives from the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College will introduce a new online tool to track ballots as they are transported from polling places to City Hall for counting, Kassakhian said.

As election day nears, his office will also be using traditional methods, such as posters in Beeline buses, and Twitter and YouTube to get the word out about the April 5 election, he said.

The city election website,, will also be revamped.

“This has been one of the more quiet election seasons in my tenure in the city, so we are going to do our effort to make sure people know when to vote, where to vote,” Kassakhian said.

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