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California election news briefs

Associated Press   29 October 2004

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Thousands of voters may be forced to cast provisional ballots when they go to the polls because the county registrar is overwhelmed with a flood of late registrations.

Since Oct. 18, the registrar's office has gotten 2,000 to 4,000 late affidavits for voter registration each day from the Secretary of State's Office, county spokesman David Wert said Thursday.

"There has been an inexplicable flood of late voter registrations to the point of where no office in the state was prepared to cope with this," Wert said. "It is looking like it is not going to get done by Election Day."

A state law that took effect in 2002 allowed residents until Oct. 18 to register, 15 days before the election. Before the change, residents had to register to vote 29 days before the election.

"This is the first major election under this new time period for registrars to register voters under this new time restriction," Wert said.

The registrar's office has hired 41 temporary staff members to supplement its full-time staff of 12 to work 14 hour days in an attempt to verify as many of the late registrants as possible.

Despite the help, many voters may be forced to cast a provisional ballot when they go to the polls, the registrar's office said.

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