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electionlineWeekly — June 9, 2016

Table of Contents

II. Primary Updates

While California saw a record number of voters register in advance of Tuesday’s primary, those numbers didn’t seem to manifest into a record turnout. With many of the state’s counties voting largely by mail and ballots are still being counted at press time, there were relatively few problems on Tuesday given the size of the state.

A computer coding problem in San Mateo County affected about 140 electronic voting machines and forced the use of paper ballots. The problem was discovered around 7 a.m. and resolved by about 8:30 a.m. The issue was with passcodes that connected individual machines to the central processing unit at election headquarters in San Mateo, Jim Irizarry, assistant chief elections officer told The Daily Journal.

Law enforcement is investigating allegations of voter fraud and voter suppression in Siskiyou County. According to Jefferson Public Radio, last week the county sheriff’s office and District Attorney’s Office announced they had assisted investigators from the state over allegations of voter fraud. Now activists claim deputies armed with military-style weapons used the investigation intimidate residents from the Hmong ethnic community.

In Oakland, two nonprofit organizations teamed up to offer child care at two polling places in low-income neighborhoods where the cost of child care could have hindered people from voting. The children were entertained with games and toys as well as mock voting booths. “Our goal is ensure that everyone gets a chance to vote regardless of whether they have access to childcare. All too often, we see polling locations in districts across the country plagued by long lines, which women with children may not have time to wait in,” UltraViolet employee Nita Chaudhary told KRON.

There were a handful of problems in Los Angeles County were some voters were forced to vote provisionally because their names did not appear on the voter rolls. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, trouble-shooters were dispatched to address issues ranging from a shortage of polling volunteers to missing ink, a lack of supplies and malfunctioning voting equipment.

And it wouldn’t be a major voting day in America if a car didn’t run into a polling place somewhere. This time it was in Shasta County and it was actually the night before when a 16-year-old hit a polling place with her car. Voting was moved to a different location in the building.

Although it may seem like the Iowa presidential caucuses were a lifetime ago, the state held its primary elections this week and according to preliminary numbers, turnout was the lowest it’s been in more than decade. Early numbers indicate turnout was about 9.7 percent.

Linn County got to test out new voting equipment on Tuesday and reports are that things went well. "It's simple, easy," Cedar Rapids voter Jim Bradley told KCRG. All 98 precincts received new ballot scanners and ballot-marking devices for disabled voters.

Voters in Cedar Rapids in one polling place were forced to cast their ballots al fresco when a smoky smell forced everyone outside for about 30 minutes.

Overall turnout was near record-breaking in Montana on Tuesday, although given that more and more voters are choosing to vote-by-mail, in-person voting on Tuesday was relatively light with few problems.

“Well, the voter turnout was actually pretty good. It was 44.65 percent, which was just a little bit lower than the 2008 primary,” Secretary of state Linda McCulloch told KGVO. “In 2008, it was 45.2 percent. So it was like less than a percentage point.”

McCulloch said the election-day registration numbers were 3,308 with a total of 6,219 people registering in the last 30 days before the election, which is only slightly less than the 2012 record-breaking year.

In Missoula County, while voting went smoothly, there was some confusion about where to show up on election day with some voters coming to the county courthouse to register to vote instead of the county fairgrounds.

"You can register, vote, if you have an undeliverable absentee ballot that's where it will be waiting for you. If you need a replacement ballot they can get you taken care of there.  It is really your one stop shop on Election Day,” Missoula County Election Supervisor Bradley Seaman told NBC Montana. 

While turnout may not have been record-breaking statewide, absentee voting in Yellowstone County was. More than 40,000 people requested absentee ballots which tops the last record by more than 3,000.

In Ravalli County, about 70 percent of voters cast their vote via absentee ballot.

New Jersey
Voters headed to the polls in Garden State on Tuesday in high, but not record numbers and by-and-large things went smoothly. New Jersey’s primaries allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primaries so some of the problems that cropped up in closed primary states didn’t materialize here, but another problem did. Apparently many voters who think they are unaffiliated forget that they declared for a party four years ago and therefore can only vote in that party this year.

In Sussex County, turnout was steady throughout the day, but not record-breaking. County Elections Administrator Marge McCabe did note that one thousand absentee ballots had been requested and 900 were returned. “That’s a high percentage,” McCabe told the New Jersey Herald.

Some voters in Hamilton Township were not happy about their new polling place on Tuesday. For 24-years, voting was held at the Woodlands Condominium Complex, but last month the condo board voted not to host a polling place and so the new polling place was located about two miles away at a school. Most of the people voting at the Woodlands polling site actually lived in the condo complex.

New Mexico
New Mexico saw a record-high primary turnout — slightly more than 326,000 — and few problems on Tuesday. Overall turnout was about 34 percent.

Two races for state representative will need to be recounted because the margin of victory was less than 1 percent.

In Dona Ana County, there were some slow machines first thing in the morning, but the largest issue came from independents and decline-to-state voters wishing to vote in the state’s closed primaries.

“We really haven’t seen any problems. Things are going well,” said Deputy County Clerk Scott Krahling, told the Las Cruces Sun-News. “The biggest challenge has been talking to independents and (decline-to-state) voters who were not aware they couldn’t vote in the primaries. Despite a pretty aggressive marketing campaign, today has made it clear that you can’t reach everyone.”

At a polling place in Santa Fe County, poll wokers decided to cheer for first-time voters and so the cheer was especially joyful for 17-year-old Jason Santos who was able to vote in the primary because of a new state law. “It’s exciting to know that I am voting for the next president of the United States of America for the first time,” Santos told the Santa Fe New Mexican. Santos will turn 18 in July.

Puerto Rico
Voters in Puerto Rico faced long lines on Sunday for the Democratic primary. The lines stemmed from the elimination of hundreds of polling places in order to cuts costs.

Results of the primary were not immediately available because the state election commission was given Monday off after working all day on Sunday.

“The entire state commission is not operating as everyone worked on Sunday,” Roberto Prats, Democratic Party chairman told The Associated Press. “We will resume tomorrow morning and try to close the local and presidential primaries at 100 percent.”

South Dakota
The 2016 primary election went fairly smoothly in South Dakota with few reported problems. Secretary of State Shantel Krebbs’ office reports that turnout was about 22 percent.

In Pennington County, Auditor Julie Pearson reported that she saw more blank ballots than in year’s past, but has no idea why. “We always have a handful of ballots that are completely blank which means somebody took the effort to go to the polling place, check–in, wait in line get a ballot, go to the voting booth and then make no marks on their ballot,” Pearson told KOTA. Not all the ballots were blank. On some people had written “none of the above” or “they’re all bad.” Pearson noted they said other things too, but “we just can’t repeat on TV.”

Also in, Pennington County they did see an increase in absentee ballots. That’s up by almost 3,000 from the June 2014 primary.