Leigh Riggleman pulled an all-nighter in Lincoln County after running into problems with a ballot scanner in the primary election. “There was no fix,” said Riggleman, assistant election administrator, on Wednesday. “The technician adjusted and adjusted and adjusted, and called, and talked to people, and it was merely a matter in some cases of running them (ballots) through a second time.” At least three counties reported problems with ES&S 650 ballot scanners in this week’s primary: Lincoln, Sanders and Powell counties. On Wednesday, an election official in Powell County said trouble originally attributed to the scanner was actually due to voter error. While the tallying took more time in some cases, Riggleman said voters can rest assured their ballots were properly counted: “I am still – even with all the problems – still satisfied with the integrity of our election process. I think across the state, we strive to do whatever we can to make sure the public doesn’t question our integrity.” ES&S did not return a voicemail left Wednesday afternoon on its media line, and a company field director also did not return a call for comment.
Unusually high humidity may be to blame for problems with paper ballots throughout Illinois during the primary election March 20, state election officials said Tuesday. The state experienced record-setting temperatures and unseasonably high humidity the day of the primary, apparently affecting the “hydroexpansivity” — the tendency of paper to expand when it absorbs moisture — of the paper ballots and rendering them difficult or impossible to feed into the ballot scanners at some precincts. The moisture caused the dimensions of the ballot to expand and be off slightly. “It is possible that the problem ballots were just so close to the limits of the acceptable width tolerance that the additional humidity alone was enough to put them out of tolerance,” according to a report by State Board of Elections officials who investigated the matter. In all, 26 Illinois voting jurisdictions had problems with the ballots. Some had just a few ballots that would not feed into the scanner, while at least one had difficulty with all of its ballots. Election judges chose to either trim the edges of the ballots so they would fit into the scanners or to remake the ballots on proper-width ballot stock.
Eleven voting centers in Mobile County reported issues with electronic ballot scanners during Tuesday’s primary election. Most of those voting centers were in the south or west parts of the county, according to Roxann Dyess, county election coordinator. Generally, the precincts reported issues with some of the ballots fed into the scanners, although 1 — the Odd Fellows Lodge in Irvington — was unable to scan any of the ballots cast, she said late Tuesday. The ballots that weren’t electronically scanned were placed into secure emergency bins, to be collected by deputies and Probate Court staff, Dyess said. She described the issue as being one where the machines accepted the ballots as they were physically fed into them by poll workers, but then displayed error messages that prohibited the ballots from being counted.