UPDATE: New central counting system may be cause of ballot shortage

By: Stephanie Stang, Gabby Gonzalez Email
By: Stephanie Stang, Gabby Gonzalez Email

A ballot shortage at some polling places throughout St. Joseph County left voters playing the waiting game. Now, many are looking to the election board for answers.

At least 10 precincts ran out of ballots. These are precincts where voter turn-out was much higher than the others. Some of these locations tend to lean Republican, which brings up for area party leaders.

"The election board seemed not to have a true plan of what to do if we can't get the appropriate ballots to the precincts in time," said Deb Fleming, St. Joseph County Republican party chairman.

Voters like Alyssa Kukla were stopped in line when her Penn Township polling location ran out of ballots before 6 p.m.

"They said they were going to go ahead and make copies of the ballot because they didn't have any more," she said. "It was strange because all of the clerks were sort of shocked."

There were lines out the door, with people waiting to vote at 6 a.m at some of the polls Tuesday.

A new system for tracking votes may have led to some of the confusion, according Rita Glenn, chief deputy county clerk.

This is the first election that the county has turned to central counting, which allows for a running tally of early voters. Glenn said they were able to track how many people had voted early in each precinct and send only the needed ballots to the actual polling locations. She admits there may have been some miscalculations.

The voting machines used throughout the county may have presented an added challenge. Those used at the County-City Building for absentee voting are newer models than those at each polling place. Ballots used in the newer machines cannot be read by the older devices. So, some ballots sent to the precincts may have been unusable.

Typically, presidential races attract the highest number of voters.

That may not be the case in St. Joseph County this year because The number of absentee ballots submitted are down compared to 2008.

Which could be an indication of voter activity today, but several people that NewsCenter 16 talked to felt compelled to vote.

“Your vote does count, so you know if you don't vote, then you can't complain, that's my saying,” said Ron Morris.

“Because I felt like, I don't know Obama was talking about me when he was saying all his point of views and stuff,” said Sierra Broadway.

“I'm a college student, so I looked a lot into that: education and healthcare. I looked into both things and both of those factors contributed into how I voted,” said Michelle hunter.

“I definitely want a change,” said Mike Tarwacki. “I just don't feel there is anybody out there that's for the people, I'm sorry that I feel that way. I work every day like everybody else, and I watch the news and there's all this negativity and I just hope my vote counts, that's all.”

NewsCenter 16 stopped at quite a few polls today and and they all seemed pretty busy. Today on average, there was probably at least a 30 %t turnout at most of the precincts.

But that was not the case at a handful of polling places. At some of them, voter turn-out is typically as high as 70 %.

And by Indiana law, the clerk's office is required to print a ballot for each registered voter.

But Republicans claim that only 50 % of the ballots at each precinct were printed.

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