Go online and you can buy a USB memory stick, or thumb drive, for 10 bucks or less. Even a premium, high-speed 128-gigabyte device can be had for less than $50 and delivered to the door overnight. It appears, though, that a small, relatively inexpensive, device caused big problems for the Secretary of State’s Office. Last week, Maine voters went to the polls to select gubernatorial and other candidates in Democratic and Republican primary elections and to decide whether to continue ranked choice voting (RCV) in national elections and party primaries. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats were still waiting to find out who their candidate for governor would be come November and who would challenge Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the general election to represent Maine’s Second Congressional District.
On Tuesday, completion of the preliminary RCV tally that would answer those questions was delayed. Earlier in the day, technical problems forced Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap to send staff detectives to retrieve paper ballots from two Hancock County municipalities, Ellsworth and Orland, as well as from Gray, Lewiston and Westbrook. The reason was that digital images of some scanned ballots could not be read by the tabulation computers at the Secretary of State’s Office, so the original paper ballots had to be recovered and rescanned.
The problem in Orland, Town Clerk Connie Brown said Wednesday morning was, “the same as everybody else’s. There was a glitch with the memory stick, the thumb drive.”
Ellsworth City Clerk Heidi Grindle said Dunlap’s office had asked for the ballots from the City’s Ward 3 polling place, which is located in the gym at the Maine Coast Baptist Church on Route 1A. Ward 3 covers north Ellsworth, “around the lakes, part of Red Bridge Road, Winkumpaugh Road,” Grindle said.
As in Orland and elsewhere, the problem in Ward 3 appears to have been a memory stick that did not record images of the paper ballots correctly.