III. Primary Updates
Voters in five states headed to the polls, mailboxes and ballot drop boxes this week for primaries. And in Mississippi and South Carolina, voters went back to the polls for primary runoffs.
Colorado: Voters — Democrats, Republicans and independents — cast ballots this week in the state’s first “open” primary and that presented one of the largest problems for the primary. As we previously reported, independent voters received both a Democratic and Republican ballot with the instructions to only cast one. Unfortunately more than 1,000 voters statewide cast both ballots which invalidated their vote. In Montrose County, due to a printing error, officials were forced to hand-count ballots. A vendor printed the incorrect barcode on the ballot. Overall turnout was about 54 percent which is the highest primary turnout in state history.
Maryland: Things got off to a rough start for Maryland’s primary when over the weekend the state announced that around 18,000 change of address/party were not recorded through the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration. On Monday, the state admitted that the number of affected voters was much higher, closer to 80,000. Affected voters were required to cast provisional ballots and the state will not have a handle on how many of those were cast till after press time. The state’s MVA provided county elections offices with a spreadsheet of those impacted by the problem in hopes of helping counties speed up the provisional process. Officials called the failure a “programming error.” Other than provisional ballots there were a handful of other issues on Tuesday in the Old Line State. A polling place in Hamden got off to late state because poll workers could not access the building. A power outage forced one Essex polling place to relocate. Voting was extended an hour in three precincts after they opened late in Baltimore. Also in Baltimore, a polling place had to be relocated after it was discovered it was infested with fleas and mice. Baltimore’s mayor has called for a review of the problems found at the city’s polling places.
Mississippi: There were few reported problems throughout Mississippi for the primary run-off and turnout was reported to be light. Results were delayed by a few hours in DeSoto County due to a computer glitch.
New York: New Yorkers went to the polls on Tuesday faced with relatively empty ballots since the state and local primaries will be held in September. Even with relatively light turnout, there were some problems like late-opening polling sites in New York City. And in Staten Island, a voter was accused of casting ballots in both the Republican and Conservative party primaries.
Oklahoma: Voting was delayed in multiple locations in Tulsa County where voters in one polling place were forced to vote out of the back of an SUV. There were various complaints about ballots for State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana. In Payne County, voters complained that poll workers were not handing out both the party primary ballot and the state question ballot. Bryan Dean, spokesman for the state board of elections said that while problems did happen, they were not widespread. “As the counties got a few of those (calls), they called the precincts where they had some issues, they dealt with that, they followed up and they got all the poll workers on the right page,” Dean told the Tulsa World. In Cleveland County, the vote count was slowed by a high number of absentee ballots.
South Carolina: Voters went back to the polls in the Palmetto State on Tuesday and they faced a few issues, but no major voting problems. Polling locations or elections offices in Colleton, Abbeville, Saluda and Spartanburg counties lost power over night after thunderstorms, but all precincts were up and running in time for Tuesday morning. One polling place in Abbeville County was forced to use paper ballots because of a power outage.
Utah: All but two counties cast their ballots by mail this primary season and overall things seemed to go well, however in Sanpete County, Clerk Sandy Neill had to set up special polling places and extend hours after hearing many reports about ballots not arriving.