The November election will be the first big test since an election night meltdown two years ago led to the firing of the Riverside County registrar of voters.
Registrar Barbara Dunmore was fired in the week after the 2010 November election for slow results, computer problems, poor communicationsand more.
The new registrar, Kari Verjilwon't discuss what happened two years ago because she wasn't here. She does say the county is prepared for this election and will have more firepower for counting the ballots quickly. "In the past, we had six counting machines, now we have eleven," Verjil says.
Another change is that this time the registrar will have help to get the ballots to the office in Riverside from here in the desert. Sheriff's deputies are taking over transportation. They can't use their lights and sirens, but they have proven more reliable.
"The sheriff'swill be driving the legal speed limit, but theyhave helped us in the past twoelections and it helped with the flow of ballots," she says.
It's still going to take some time. The polls will close at 8 p.m.. Then poll workers need to make sure the number of ballots matches the number of people who voted at their precinct. Once that accounting is done, the ballots are loaded into a car and taken to a collection center here in the desert.
The best hope is for ballots in the Coachella Valley to show-up in Riverside at 10 p.m. on election night and then those ballots will be put to the front of the line for counting.
That's why Verjil is being careful when it comes to expectations.
"Unfortunately, we're always going to be competing for a lower-tier finish. I don't like that but that's out of our control."
Another improvement will be the addition of a sheriff's helicopter to deliver ballots from Blythe, saving a three-hour drive.
The registrar is also promising to communicate better on election night -- and post new results more often.
Bottom line -- it's still going to be a long night.