ELECTION UPDATE: Turnout strong in King County; some minor problems
November 7, 2008 · Updated 10:38 AM
As predicted, voter turnout is strong and things are running smoothly at the polls, according to King County.
“The early morning rain does not appear to be keeping anyone away,” said Sherrill Huff, King County Elections Director. “The poll workers are upbeat and happy about the energy in their polling places.”
Minor problems have been reported from a few polling places, but everyone has been able to vote successfully. Process improvements from King County Elections ensure votes will be counted accurately. Some things that are being reported:
• Tabulation machines at election headquarters were down for two hours in the morning because a piece of hardware that connects the ballot counting equipment to the central server was not working properly. The problem was isolated and the hub removed. As of 1 p.m., 32 of the 38 machines are tabulating and ballot counting has resumed. Hourly counts thus far have surpassed the predicted 10,000 ballots per hour. It appears impacts will be minimal to the initial projection of 100,000 absentee ballots counted on Election Day. It is important to note that this part does not in any way effect the accuracy of the vote totals.
• At Mount Baker Presbyterian Church in Seattle voters who showed up first thing this morning were given provisional ballots instead of poll ballots causing some confusion among voters. The situation was quickly corrected by an on-site inspector. These provisional ballots will be treated as regular ballots and will be counted after Election Day.
• At Whitworth Elementary School three voters complained that their ballots did not feed through the Accu Vote machine properly. Early morning rain dripped from coats or umbrellas onto the voters’ ballots. The moisture made the ballot thicker so it was not accepted by the Accu Vote Machine. Any uncounted ballots will be reconciled and a one hundred percent audit will be conducted of the polling place to ensure all ballots are counted.
• First thing this morning the voter hotline active with high volumes of calls and some callers were getting a busy signal. King County added 12 phone lines to the existing 70 for a total of 82 staffed phone lines. People call the voter helpline, 206-296-VOTE, for answers to questions like where is my polling place and what do I do if I can’t find by absentee ballot. Anyone who has difficulty getting through is urged to hang up and dial again.
“Overall the number of calls we’re receiving to our help desk equals the call volumes of similarly sized elections,” said Huff. “We think that is a good sign of the progress we’re made in the last four years.”
Voters concerned about reports of long lines at the polls should be reassured that anyone in line at their polling place at 8 p.m. will be able to vote. At 8 p.m. a poll worker will stand in line and announce “the polls are closed.” At that time, anyone in line will be allowed to vote.
A reminder for voters, absentee ballots can be turned in at any polling place.