High voter turnout, lengthy ballot leads to lines, delay on Election Day

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – More than half of the county’s nearly 91,000 registered voters cast ballots in the General Election – and half of those did so either early or by mail, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

With a higher than normal voter turnout for a mid-term election, the office reported long lines at polling locations, even as polls closed. The longest line was reported at Sebastian Christian Church, where two voting precincts were held, which had more than 100 people waiting at 7 p.m.

Part of the delay there, as well as other polling sites, was due to a lack of ballots, according to Supervisor of Elections Kay Clem.

Clem explained that she had ordered twice as many ballots for the General Election as she did for the Primary in August.

In that election, the polling site in Fellsmere ran short of ballots near the end of the day.

“We really felt like we had enough,” Clem said of the number of ballots for the General Election.

The problem, though, appeared to be two-fold, she added – one, many ballots were thrown out by voters who had made mistakes; and two, the right combination of early, absentee and day-of ballots wasn’t ordered.

“It’s hard to get it correct,” Clem said of the mix, explaining that one precinct that votes mostly early in one election might vote the day-of for the next election. “It gets complicated.”

As for the “spoilage” of ballots, Clem said that could have been due to the length of the ballot – being double-sided and with so many offices and referenda to decide.

Clem said that the poll workers were advised to ask voters to either use a touch screen voting machine or vote a provisional ballot to get the precinct through until more ballots arrived.

The Supervisor of Elections Office ran a “Ballot on Demand” printer in Gifford to run off more ballots as needed to the various precincts.

This year’s election was in line with some of the higher voter-turnout the county has experienced, according to Clem.

Higher than normal turnout has ranged from 51 to 58 percent. This year was 53 percent, with more than 48,300 ballots cast.

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