A slight blade misalignment in a ballot printing machine stirred up an election day problem Tuesday for a smattering of officials throughout Illinois who reported that as many as several thousand ballots were slightly too wide to fit in the counting machines. Both ballot companies and election supervisors in 25 affected counties worked throughout the morning to fix the problem. By midafternoon they had figured out that ballots from the bottom of the shrink-wrapped stacks were the right size, and that trimming a sliver off thick ballots already filled out was the quickest remedy. State and county election officials expected only minor delays in tabulation after the polls closed, only because of a small number of ballots that were cast and placed in locked auxiliary ballot boxes until the polls closed.
In DuPage County — the most populous county affected — only 23 of the county’s 360 polling locations experienced problems, equaling hundreds of ballots, not thousands, an election spokesman said. Neither Cook County nor the city of Chicago experienced the problem.
“It was an issue in the trimming of the ballots,” said Ken Griffin, managing partner at Liberty Systems, one of two ballot vendors who use the same Addison printing company to produce ballots. “The knives they use to cut the ballots as they come off the press were just a little out of tolerance. If you saw it, you wouldn’t believe it was enough to cause a problem. We are thinking this warm weather might have had something to do with it too. “It’s traumatic for all of us, because we want everything to go as smoothly as it can from the very start,” Griffin said about 3:30 p.m. “But we believe we have it under control.”