I. In Focus This Week
Super Tuesday more slow than super
Low turnout, few problems mark contests in 10 states
Unlike four years ago when states jockeyed to be among the first to cast ballots in the hotly contested 2008 presidential primary season and 24 states and America Soma held their contests on February 5, this year only 10 states held contests on “Super Tuesday.”
And with no contest on the Democrat side and less interest on the Republican side than there seemed to be four years, that made for a slow Super Tuesday for many elections officials with light turnout reported from Alaska to Vermont.
That being said, just because the day was relatively quiet, some would say slow, doesn’t mean it was uneventful. The following is a brief recap of some of the events of Super Tuesday.
Glitches and snafus
In Franklin County, Ohio, some voters left their polling places without voting after confusion about ballots lead to delays.
The confusion arose in polling places that handle multiple precincts. Due to the confusion about which ballots voters were supposed to receive, some voters could not wait because they had to get to work.
Poll workers took down the contact information of the voters who had to leave and reached out to them after the ballot confusion was cleared up to encourage them to return to vote.
Franklin County wasn’t alone with ballot problems. In Lucas County, Ohio about 50 voters used incorrect ballots after a poll worker was confused about which voters got which ballots in a multi-precinct polling place.
In Clermont County, Ohio and Muscogee County, Ga., it wasn’t a glitch with voting that caused problems, it was computer problems that caused issues with the counting process and held up the results in both counties.
Elections offices in Dougherty County, Ga. also reported technical problems during the counting process.
For Trumbull County, Ohio officials, election night lasted a little longer than expected because workers forgot to bring back voting machines from one polling places and because officials had to count the paper ballots cast by 17-year-olds voting for the first time.
Although polling places in Monroe County, Tenn. weren’t directly affected by last week’s devastating tornadoes, turnout on Tuesday was definitely affected with only about 350 voters casting ballots in a precinct that usually sees 1,000 voters.
"Throughout the county with the vote being down anyway, people have to take care of their homes," Precinct official Tara Harrill told a local television affiliate.
By and large the first wide-scale implementation of voter photo ID in Oklahoma and Tennessee when fairly well on Tuesday.
In Tennessee, just over 200,000 people cast ballots via early voting or on Super Tuesday and many counties claimed the state’s new voter ID law was a “non-factor.” According the news reports, only 47 provisional ballots were needed for those who did not have a voter ID.
“Between our office and the state election office doing press releases and everything that’s been done, it’s really gotten the word out,” Rutherford County Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester told the Daily News Journal.
Of course that doesn’t mean everything went swimmingly.
When former Marine Tim Thompson went to vote on Tuesday, although he has an ID, he refused to show it in a form of protest.
"I've used this for 37 years," he said showing his voter registration card to a local television affiliate, "This was good enough for my father, it was good enough for my grandfather and I refuse to show you a picture ID."
There were minor problems in Oklahoma as well with some voters not realizing that they needed to have ID and one being turned away because of an expired license.
From icy parking lots to bomb threats to problems with accessibility, there are always issues at polling places on any election day and Tuesday was no exception.
Two polling places in Ohio were temporarily shut-down due to bomb threats. In Loraine County all voters and elections workers had to evacuate the building shortly after 1pm. The voting machines were left unattended during the evacuation. The election judges kept in touch with the county board of elections throughout the ordeal.
Presiding Judge Tammara Taylor told The Morning Journal that she was impressed with one voter who was evacuated but waited out the evacuation to ensure that his vote was counted.
“We had one voter who returned after everything to make sure that his vote counts,” Taylor told the paper. “I was impressed he came back. He should of got two I voted stickers.”
The building was re-opened by 2 p.m.
The other Ohio bomb threat was called into Lima Senior High School.
In Arlington, Va. it wasn’t a bomb threat but a suspicious package that temporarily closed down a polling place. The suspicious envelope was reported around 9 a.m. and the site was given the all-clear by 10:30 a.m. Voting was not affected.
And in Polk County, Ga. one voter complained that he was unable to cast his ballot because the wheelchair ramp to access the polling place was too steep for him to negotiate.
Elections administrator Steve Gattis told the local television affiliate that he thought the ramp was accessible and other voters had been able to access the site using the ramp.
An early morning fire in an apartment complex that houses a polling place in Marlboro, Mass. forced the town to move it’s polling location to the nearby Masonic Hall.
For the first time, 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election in November were able to vote in Vermont’s primary. Although no one knows for sure how many 17-year olds cast their ballot on Tuesday, various organizations worked hard to get the word out in advance including this PSA created by members of the Class of 2012 who planned to vote on Tuesday.
Miss Vermont Katie Levasseur worked with state house interns to push legislators to approve the constitutional amendment allowing the practice.
“I’m so excited,” Levasseur said told the Burlington Free Press the day before the election. “I think it’s so important to start these habits at a young age.”
After voting on Tuesday, Levasseur planned to spend the day trying to meet some of the newly voting 17-year olds.
Although they couldn’t vote, that didn’t stop 30 Advance Placement students in Glynn County, Ga. from spending their Super Tuesday at the polls.
For the third election, the students spent the day as poll workers completing the same tasks and working the same hours as their older counter parts.
Cindy Johnson, director of the county’s board of elections said that the students pick up the technology used in elections so quickly most don’t need much training at all.
Two students in Ohio were forced to change their clothes when attempting to vote in Tuesday’s primary election. Nothing on their clothing was offensive, unless you’re opposed to the Westerville City school system.
Karla Herron, director of the Delaware County Board of Elections said that the students should not have been asked to change or cover-up their school logos.
"It will be something in our next training that we will be sure to emphasize, because it was an issue, two voters or 500 voters," Herron told the local NBC affiliate.
And sadly, 19-year-old Kyle Sprowls, a senior at Orville High School in East Union Township, Ohio was killed in an automobile accident before dawn on Tuesday morning while on his way to volunteer at his local polling site.
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