Henry County, Iowa, ran out of ballots during the Tuesday mid-term elections.
Auditor Shelly Barber told IowaWatch she only ordered enough ballots for 90 percent of the county’s registered voters, based off the turnout in the 2014 midterm election.
But some precincts ran out by the end of Tuesday morning, she said. In lieu of ballots, voters across the county ended up using OpenElect Voting Interface (OVI) and OpenElect Voting Optical Scan (OVO) machines provided for blind or handicapped voters to cast their ballots.
“People are a little testy if they have to wait,” Barber said. “In Henry County people aren’t used to waiting. So if they have to wait for a half-hour, 45 minutes, they think that’s horrid. And I hate that they have that long but there’s lines. That’s just the way it is.”
Barber said that part of the problem was from people registering to vote at the polls, other voters who moved from one precinct to another within the county but waited to update their addresses until they were at the polls contributed to the miscalculation in ballots needed.
“I wish people would update their registration when they move, so that we had the accurate locations and numbers to start with, rather than wait until the day of, and then maybe we wouldn’t run out of ballots,” Barber said.
Voter turnout was still heavy at 7 p.m. — two hours before polls were to close. “I’ve had some calls about addresses and that kind of thing, and they’re hanging up quick because they’re busy,” Barber said.
Next time, Barber said, she won’t try saving taxpayer money by ordering ballots for less than 100 percent of registered voters.
“I’m shocked at the amount of people. I just really am floored,” Barber said.
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This IowaWatch story was republished by the Hawk Eye (Burlington, IA) under IowaWatch’s mission of sharing stories with media partners.