II. Primary Update
Things were pretty quiet on election day in Nebraska, which saw state and local races as well as a muted GOP presidential primary. Legislators are looking into moving the state’s primary up earlier in four years to give Cornhuskers more of a say although according to final number, the state had its highest turnout since 2000.
The day wasn’t without problems though. About 700 voters in Webster County weren’t able to vote in the University of Nebraska Regents race because the race was not included on the ballot. In addition to those missing voted, because the difference in candidates is only about 166, a recount is expected.
There were some polling place issues even though it was a quiet day. Recent storms did force some polling sites to find new locations. And a gas leak in Omaha caused on polling place to be shut down and relocated on primary day. Also in Omaha, voters were frustrated that the Douglas County election commission had failed to notify them that their polling place had been relocated.
The great thing, in our opinion anyway, about quieter election days is that the local media has time to find more human interest stories like the one about 104-year-old Susan Wiese of Grand Island who cast her first ballot for FDR in 1932 and voted in every election since then. “Voting is a very important privilege,” Wiese said. “The minute you were allowed to vote, I started to vote.” She was 21 years old in 1932 when she cast her first ballot.
KWBE took some time to feature long-time Johnson County poll workers—some who have been on the job for 40 years.
“We didn’t have polling machines when we started and we had counting boards back in those days, where once you had 25 ballots in the box, you could take them out. You’d go in a separate room and count the ballots. Now, they just put them in the machine and they’re counted right when you put them in. When we leave tonight, everything will be totaled up, doesn’t make a difference if there’s two people on the ballot or if there’s 20,” Imogene Mason told the station.
While early voting numbers broke records in the Mountain State, primary day turnout was mixed, but still higher than normal. There were reports of long lines in some counties and there were reports of some voters still in line as the polls closed.
Voters in Harrison County reported waiting 40 to 45 minutes to vote. County Clerk Susan Thomas told WDTV that for the first time since she’s been a clerk, people were still coming into vote right up until closing time. Thomas said despite the number of voters, things went smoothly and chalked that up to the county’s electronic voting machines.
Lines and electioneering were the two big issues facing voters in Monongalia County on Tuesday. Several voters complained to officials that campaign staff were not adhering to the 300-foot rule.
In Fayette County, large turnout and paper ballots slowed down the counting process that wasn’t complete until about 3 a.m. on Wednesday. County Clerk Kelvin Holiday told WOAY that he hopes to have additional electronic voting machines at each precinct in the fall.
It was a late night in Doddridge County as well when computer glitches delayed the counting of votes in 12 precincts until after midnight. According to Clerk Beth Rodgers, the problems came from the county courthouse printer and not the county’s iVotronic machines.
Strong turnout also slowed the tally in Upshur County and has left county officials considering a switch to electronic voting machines.
Human error—in the form of folded ballots and over-votes—slowed the counting process in Mineral County. Only six of 30 precincts were counted by 2 a.m.
And in secretary of state news, incumbent Secretary of State Natalie Tennant (D) will face Mac Warner (R) in November. We’ll have more on that race as it gets closer to Election Day.
In more follow-up to the April 5 primary in St. Louis County, Secretary of State Jason Kander has released a report which found that a mix-up of ballot types caused the ballot shortages in some polling places and excesses in others.
Recommendations to solve the problem included creating a step-by-step process to assure the correct number and type of ballot reached each location, creating more peer oversight on proofing and ensuring the correct amendment draft, and creating a contingency plan, should another ballot shortage occur.
“This was an egregious mistake by St. Louis County officials that should never happen again,” Kander said in a statement to The Missouri Times. “I hope St. Louis County takes the Elections Integrity Unit recommendations seriously to help ensure that every eligible voter in the county has an opportunity to cast a ballot in every election.”