I’m sure polling places around the state were quite hectic Tuesday what with one of the largest voter turnouts in recent memory expected.
The Georgetown News Graphic did an advance story on Tuesday’s election and quoted Scott County Clerk Rebecca Johnson stating she thought turnout there would be higher than the state’s average. In fact, a 70 percent turnout would not have surprised her.
Maybe those involved in the election proceedings should have read that statement. Not far into the voting day, the clerk’s office had to order 9,000 more paper ballots, Seems with 90-minute waits in some precincts voters were deciding to use paper ballots as opposed to the digital voting machines. Had they read the clerk’s quote in the newspaper, maybe the office would have been ready with more paper ballots to begin with. And maybe people wouldn’t have had to leave and come back, some twice already.
From my experience, Teresa and I got to the voting place about 5:35. We thought maybe it would have quietened down by then. No, the line was long, made for a slow night since once again the precinct had run out of paper ballots. And there was only one digital machine for the nearly 90 people in line. We were told the precinct ordered 60 more paper ballots and “They are on their way.”
Those did eventually arrive and the line moved more swiftly. But when we left, about 6:15, there we still about 20 people in line.
And guess what? Those 60 more paper ballots that were ordered and arrived. They were already gone. So at least three times during the day that one precinct ran out of paper ballots.
But the paper ballot issue wasn’t the only fiasco created by the Scott County Clerk’s Office. Early in the day came word from the AG’s Office Election Fraud Hotline that an issue had developed in Scott County. It involved signs put up outside polling places that cell phones would not be allowed inside.
Wait a minute? The AG had just issued a decision that cell phones were permitted and voters were allowed to take “ballot selfies” as long as no other voter was pictured or identified. That decision had been disseminated through the news media and since it was an opinion requested by the Secretary of State you would think county clerks would listen.
Not so in Scott County. It ended up with a rush to Circuit Judge Paul Isaac (I assume they had to use Judge Isaac since the county clerk’s husband is Rob Johnson, the other circuit judge in Scott County). Judge Isaac presided and worked out an agreement that resulted in a new sign being placed in the polling areas, a sign that clarified cell phones would be allowed in the polling place but no pictures of anyone else in the voting area could be photographed.
Two embarrassing situations could have been avoided if the clerk’s office had only read the newspaper.