Reader reports 'long lines' for unverifiable e-vote systems
UPDATED with a few more curious details from local media...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2014, 6:42pm PT  

Long time BRAD BLOG reader Cary Aye tells us via Facebook:

Just Voted in St Louis County, Ferguson 005. They ran out of paper ballots at 4:20 this afternoon and had hours long lines for 3 electronic voting machines. The poll workers said paper ballots were running out at other polling precincts.

After several conversations with the poll workers as to why I would not vote on unverifiable machines, I said I was prepared to sit here and wait for the ballots that were "in route".

They had already broken down the stands for the paper voting and there were 5 other people in the last of the line when at 8:10, a worker showed up with the ballots. Karma win!

Not sure what that means politically, but we like the "Karma win!" St. Louis County has been notoriously terrible at forcing voters to use 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems over the years, even though all Missouri voters are allowed to vote on paper ballots --- if they know to ask one.

Good work, Carey! Thank you for fighting for a verifiable vote --- especially in Missouri and particularly in Ferguson!

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UPDATE 7:09p PT: A family member of ours from St. Louis County, MO calls to say that paper ballots ran out in many locations, and that voters are still in line two hours after polls have closed. If you were in line as of poll close at 7p CT, you are still allowed to vote. Keep waiting, St. Louis voters!

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UPDATE 12:44a PT: A few more strange details about all of this, reported by local media today, seem worth noting here for now...

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

St. Louis County election officials say one election-day glitch today came early when some polling places began running out of paper ballots.

Rita Days, the Democratic director of election for St. Louis County, said her office usually plans for 15 percent of the voters taking paper ballots. The rest would use the electronic voting machines.

But for some reason Tuesday, she said, "we've had an extra large run of paper ballots."

"It seems more and more people are taking paper ballots," Days said. "They are kind of bucking the trend. Previously, 15 percent was sufficient. In the future, we may look at 20 to 25 percent."

Normally, we'd love to take some credit for helping to educate the electorate about the importance of voting on paper ballots over all these years (we live in L.A. now, but were born and raised in St. Louis County, after all), but for this part of the Post's article concerning a precinct in Florissant, a town that abuts Ferguson, which does lead one to raise an eyebrow...

Supervisor Charles Meador said poll workers there realized immediately this morning they only had five of one of the paper ballots when they typically need about 300 of that version. He thinks there was a mix-up at headquarters. He called immediately to alert them of the problem, but more paper ballots didn't arrive until about 9:30 a.m.

They're supposed to have 300 paper ballots on hand, but only had 5?!

Voters in all of the cases were reportedly instructed to either vote on the touch-screen systems, or come back after 1pm when more paper ballots were supposed to have been delivered. That's a pretty tall inconvenience that reportedly ticked off a number of voters.

And then there is this out of the city of St. Louis which, unlike St. Louis County, uses touch-screen voting systems exclusively, except in emergency cases [* see CORRECTION on this point below]...

Meanwhile in the city of St. Louis, some voters reported troubles.

A voter at Unity Christ Church on North Skinker Boulevard said anyone who voted in August was showing up on the computer as having already voted Tuesday. They were using paper ballots to get around the glitch.

Why would the computers show voters as already having voted unless the August primary data was not zeroed out of the systems before Tuesday's general election?

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* CORRECTION: A reader who voted in the city of St. Louis, which is a different voting entity from St. Louis County, writes to say my explanation of all touch-screen (except for emergency) voting in the city of St. Louis is inaccurate. Voters there, he said, were indeed given the option to vote on either paper ballot or touch-screen. So my information on that, as based on my previous conversations with the former MO Sec. of State and others, now appears to be out-dated in that regard (which is a good thing!)

The reader says when he went to vote yesterday in the city, he "asked for paper. Then asked what the most popular choice was. She [the poll worker] said paper and then pointed out that there were only two electronic voting machines at the precinct which she said was making for long lines, hence people's preference for paper. They had about six rows of stations for people to go fill out the paper ballots. A few minutes later, there was a rush as people were getting off of work. My wife arrived as part of that rush shortly after I did. She came straight from work. She too requested paper. When she went to vote, every station was taken. So you had a room full of people voting and two machines. So like I say, I'm not sure where you got the information above, but it certainly wasn't true in my 63103 precinct."

I'm scrambling to prepare my radio show for later today, so no time to dig in at the moment for more details or confirmation either way, but hopefully that helps to clarify the process in the city of St. Louis for now. My apologies for the late-night, misleading, and apparently out-of-date statements on that one point.

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