By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
It may be Thursday before Del Norte County's votes on today's recall election are counted.
The ballot has more than four pages of candidate names, but voters may only choose one. To make sure the ballots are marked correctly, staff of the county elections office must go through them by hand.
"And that takes time," said Del Norte County Elections Clerk Vickie Frazier
Frazier recruited a volunteer staff of all of Del Norte County's elected officials to help count, check and verify each ballot, but she expects it will still take more than a day to get the job done.
Her volunteer crew began counting and checking the 2,043 already returned absentee ballots yesterday afternoon.
"Results of the absentee ballots will be out by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, but we won't be done with the rest of the ballots until Thursday," said Frazier.
A steady stream of voters dropped off their absentee ballots at the elections office on Ninth Street yesterday. Frazier said she expects many more absentee ballots are waiting to be picked up at the post office.
Polling places around the county open at 7 a.m. this morning and close at 8 p.m. Voters must bring their voter registration card and a valid form of identification.
Each registered voter is assigned to a specific polling place near their home address. The address of the polling place where you must vote is usually printed on the back of the sample ballot mailed to you.
Call the elections office at 465-4383 for more information about where to vote.
There are 135 candidates listed on the ballot vying to replace current Governor Gray Davis if voters elect to recall him. There are another 28 candidates that were certified by the secretary of state as eligible write-in candidates.
At least three candidates that dropped out of the race are still listed on the ballot, including Peter Ueberroth, Bill Simon and Arianna Huffington¬Ėall republicans.
They remain on the ballot, because California law requires candidates to give 60 days notice before election day to have their name withdrawn.
How Del Norte County residents will vote is uncertain, but Tom Owen, a local judge and College of the Redwoods political sciences professor, said a mass of early absentee voters may have caused a different election result than if voters waited until after the last days of mud slinging by the candidates.
"Such a high number of people voted absentee before all these allegations came out. A lot of the polls show a total reversal now," Owen said.
"Wouldn't it be ironic if the election was based on votes cast weeks early?" he added.
A majority of Del Norte's registered voters are Republican. The GOP outnumber registered Democrats here by about 180.
Election watchers are invited to the hear local vote counts as they are compiled after 8 p.m. tonight at the Flynn Administrative Building at 981 H Street.
Auditorium seating and a television broadcast of statewide results will be available to the public in the board of supervisors' chambers.
Internet Web sites with both local vote counts and statewide counts are also available to the public.
To find local tallies, access Del Norte County's main Web site at www.co.del-norte.ca.us, then look for a link to the recall election results table.
For statewide results, access the secretary of state Web site at www.myvotecounts.org after 8 p.m.