II. Primary Updates
The 2018 version of “Super Tuesday” occurred this week with voters in eight states heading to the polls and mailboxes. The day was a mixed bag administratively with fairly smooth sailing in some states, minor glitches in others and major headaches in some too.
Alabama: Twenty-six counties in Alabama rolled out e-poll books for the first time this election and overall the new voter check-in system seemed to work well with poll workers. In Dothan, some voters were confused about new polling locations. There was a bit of a kerfuffle in Mobile when Rep. Barbara Drummond, who was on the ballot for re-election, went to the polling place to vote only to find out she had been removed from the rolls because she was dead. Turns out, her sister-in-law, who had passed away, had the same name. The chief clerk from Mobile happened to be the polling location and sorted out the problem. In exciting news, apparently there are new “I Voted” stickers in Alabama. The new stickers feature the stars and stripes in the shape of the state with the words “I Voted” on the stickers. And in the race for secretary of state, incumbent Republican John Merrill will face Democratic challenger Heather Milam.
California: With more registered voters than most states have residents, just about anything can happen in California on an election day. The two big stories out The Golden State this year was the roll out the state’s new vote-by-mail/vote center system and how more than 100,000 people were somehow left off the voter rolls in Los Angeles County.
Overall, the roll out of the new voting system seemed to work well, although some voters did express their sadness about no longer relying on neighborhood polling places. And in Sacramento County, some voters who showed up at old polling places wondered if the ballots they left would be counted.
In Los Angeles County, at 1,530 voting locations, 118,522 voters were left off the polls due to what Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said was a printing error. Entire streets were left off the rolls and even California’s more notable residents were not immune. Logan appeared at a special hearing before the county board of supervisors on Wednesday.
There were a smattering of other problems throughout the state. In Tulare County, election results were delayed on Tuesday night. In Amador County, polling places ran out of ballots. A polling place was forced to relocate in Sonoma County due to wild fires. Voters in San Francisco faced long lines at some polling places. A San Diego polling place was briefly evacuated after a suspicious device was reported. Software glitches in San Mateo County forced some voters to use provisional ballots.
And although there are still a lot of ballots to be counted at press time, incumbent Secretary of state Alex Padilla (D) will face Mark Meuser (R) in November.
Iowa: The biggest pre-primary concern, the roll out of the state’s new voter ID law, turned out to be the least talked about issue of the day, although not everyone was happy about it. And several counties ran into a new problem with the law…left behind IDs. The biggest issue that some voters seemed to face on primary day was an anonymous text message with erroneous polling place information. It turns out the text messages were mistakenly sent by a campaign. A software glitch in Story County forced some voters to complete their voter eligibility forms manually. In Pottawattamie County, a water main break lead to a change in polling places for Council Bluffs voters. And in the race for secretary of state, incumbent Republican Paul Pate will face Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear.
Montana: With a turnout of around 41 percent, the highest mid-term primary turnout since 1994, it was a more or less a smooth day. “What we do here is look for big problems, and we didn’t have them,” Secretary of state Corey Stapleton told KTVH. “We didn’t have any equipment failures; we didn’t have ballots that didn’t feed into the system. We were able to avoid some of the pitfalls from the past.”
New Jersey: Overall, it was a quiet day in The Garden State, but two issues stood out. First, in Hudson County, voting irregularities were reported at multiple voting locations in Hoboken with one polling place opening three hours late due to voting machine problems. And in Passaic County, a poll worker in the town of Wayne was arrested and charged with possession of heroin, being under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and possession of narcotics in a motor vehicle
New Mexico: Slow, steady and routine are three words that were used to describe primary day in The Land of Enchantment. One thing that may have lead to a smooth election day were the number of early ballots cast this year. Colfax County did have to put back-up plans into place for some voters who had been evacuated due to the Ute Park Fire. In the race for secretary of state, incumbent Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver will face Republican challenger Johanna Cox. Both ran unopposed.
South Dakota: While Alabama saw a smooth roll out of e-poll books on Tuesday, things were anything but smooth for several South Dakota counties using the devices including Brown, Hughes, Hyde, Pennington, Sully, and Yankton. The problems forced polls to stay open late in several jurisdictions. Secretary of State Shatel Krebs, who lost her primary bid for U.S. representative issued a statement saying that the e-poll book problem was not statewide and that it was an issue between the individual counties and the vendor.