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County ballots still being counted today

With ballot-depleted precincts earlier in the day and moistballots because of rainy weather, Lincoln County vote-countingproved to be a slow and tedious task Tuesday night and remainedincomplete Wednesday morning.

Twelve precincts ran out of ballots Tuesday. An estimated300-400 emergency ballots made with a copying machine had to bedistributed and then counted by hand last night.

“Basically, we didn’t have enough ballots,” said District 1Election Commissioner John Hightower.

Election officials hand-counted ballots until shortly after 2a.m. Wednesday before stopping. Final results were not expecteduntil afternoon Wednesday after election officials return tocomplete the vote tabulation process.

The additional ballots were not expected to change the outcomesof any races.

Hightower said no common percentage of expected voter turnoutwas used to determine how many ballots would be printed for eachprecinct. He said election commissioners individually determined aballot printing percentage and then those totals were considered bythe full election commission.

“We all decided on how many ballots we needed,” Hightowersaid.

Election officials began their hand count of ballots around 11p.m. Hightower acknowledged that could have begun sooner, but heindicated officials were concentrating their efforts on gettingballots ready for counting by the vote-scanning machine.

“We should have started earlier,” Hightower said, “but we wereworking on getting all this other out of the way.”

Precincts that ran out of ballots Tuesday included Brignal,Little Bahalia, Montgomery, Pearlhaven, Norfield, Old Brook,Arlington, Johnson, Johnson Grove, Loyd Star, Vaughn and Zetus.

Also adding to counting problems, the vote-scanning machine wasits usual cantankerous self Tuesday. With rainy weather much of theday, some ballots were damp, which caused the machine to stop.

“There were quite a few that were moist and sticking together,”said Dwayne Dunn, scanning machine operator.

Dunn said those ballots had to be manually fed into themachine.

In addition, the scanning machine broke down around 10:15 p.m.,and election officials had to call for help from themanufacturer.

Dunn said a magnet that held a door closed had slipped and wasnot pressing down an internal button that affected machineoperation. After a short delay, the magnet was repositioned andvote counting resumed.

According to totals, 9,849 votes were counted by machineTuesday. Adding 400 hand-counted ballots would raise that total to10,249, which would mean Tuesday’s election had a turnout ofapproximately 44 percent of the county’s over 22,900 registeredvoters.