Precincts Run Short on Ballots Due to High Turn-out

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
California voters flocked to the polls beginning early yesterday morning. In Sacramento County, some people showed up long before polling places opened at 7am. Among them was Sam Broofman who wanted to beat the rush after hearing reports of long waits in other parts of the country. CUTSAM “I was just curious cause they were talking about lines in various places so I figured I’d show up early.” Despite races for the U-S Senate, the legislature, local ballot measures and statewide propositions -- the motivation for getting to the polls was the same for many. MOS But as it turns out, election officials in some counties were caught off guard by just how many voters showed up to the polls. CUTALDIDNT “We just didn’t expect the turnout that we saw.” That’s Al Fawcett with the Sacramento County Registrar’s office. He says toward the end of the day, about two dozen polling places either ran out or came close to running out of ballots. Fawcett says with the eight o’clock closing time looming, they had to dispatch extra absentee ballots to the polling places. CUT: ALBALLOTS We told the poll workers that they could ask the voters to wait until the ballots were delivered and anyone who was in the polling place at that time would still be able to vote… in an envelope and that went in the ballot box.” Fawcett says not enough regular ballots were ordered – they were about 50 thousand short. Turnout was predicted to be 70 –to 72 percent, but ended up topping 75 percent. It was a similar story in San Joaquin County, where several precincts ran out of ballots. Registrar Deborah Hench says election officials had even ordered additional ballots recently because of higher voter registration numbers. CUT: HENCHBUT But as everyone can see we have a lot of provisional voters, cause you don’t see them, you don’t there supposed to be there and you can’t order for them. Hench says election officials ended up making copies of ballots to give to voters. Despite the shortages, neither Hench nor Al Fawcett believe any votes were missed. And state election officials say, overall, the California vote went smoothly. For his part, Fawcett is looking for a silver lining, saying he hopes the electorate stays this energized for the next election.