Election 2010: There were small problems, big turnout

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By Todd Martin

A voting machine mix-up and a broken vote counter led to an interesting Election Day in the Shelby County Clerk's Office, but all-in-all Sue Carole Perry said she couldn't complain.

"It's a much less stressful day when you're running unopposed," she joked. "Really, though, it wasn't too bad."

The results were posted by about 9 p.m., and Shelby was not the last county in the voting district to post results, that honor falling to Bullitt County for the third consecutive election.

Perry did get an early wake-up call, or, at least an early run out the door.

"I'm usually here around six o'clock in the morning on election day, but at about 5:30 a.m., I got a call at home telling me the wrong machines had been delivered to West Middle School, that's District E101," she said. "I don't have a pick-up truck, so we had to scramble around to find one. Luckily someone on the [election] council [at the school] had one."

The West Middle machines had gotten switched with the machines for Marshall Doaks, district E102, when they were dropped off by the County Road Department.

Not only did the districts have different ballots, but the sign-in book was included in the scanning machine.

"If we didn't get them switched as quickly as we did, some people may not have gotten to vote," Perry said.

At the end of the day, trouble struck again, this time in the form of broken equipment.

"We use these MBB [Mobile Ballot Box] cards that hold results of the paper ballots when they're scanned in," Perry said. "After we had scanned in about 11 of them, the machine broke."

The cards are similar to memory expansion cards in computers, and Perry said a special machine reads the information and totals the votes before the results can be posted and sent to Frankfort.

"We called the company that builds them and said we'll meet you halfway between here and Lexington," Perry said. "Then we sent a deputy sheriff and told him to hit those blue lights and put the pedal to the metal."

All that effort didn't help that much though, Perry said.

"The poor girl got lost coming from Lexington," she said. "She got off on the wrong exit."

Perry said her office would learn from the mishaps on this year's Election Day.

"Now we will always follow the county road department when they drop off the voting machines," she said. "And we have already gotten a second counting MBB card reader."

Bullitt County issues

Bullitt County held up the results again, following the problems the district had with the primary election.

In May, Bullitt County had misplaced several ballots, slowing down the tally until after 10 p.m.

On Tuesday, the district locked an MBB card in a machine, requiring a court order to get the machine unlocked. The Circuit Court Judge was called and ordered the machine, which was sealed, to be brought in. The paper tapes had already been run from the machine.

Perry said she’s had people leave the cards in the machine before, but never had to get a court order to have them unlocked.

"I always just send them [the poll workers] back to get it," Perry said.



No problems in new district

Ann Davis, who has worked most local elections in Cropper since 1991, when the precinct location was the former Cropper School. said the new location – the Bagdad Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 Sub Station – was working out better than the most recent site at the nearby Cropper Baptist Church.

There had been concerns that some of the 850 eligible precinct voters thought they would have to travel to Bagdad to vote because of the fire station’s name.

Action was also brisk at two Bagdad precincts housed in the Bagdad Ruritan Club, where a combined 1,200 or so voters are eligible to cast ballots.

“We’ve had a bigger turnout – it’s been steady all day, and it’s usually not that way,” election worker Betty Newton said.

Turnout good

This year's election easily trumped the last countywide election in voter turnout.

A whopping 56.4 percent of the registered voters (14,820 of 26,287) turned out this year.

In 2006, the same offices were running but not nearly as many were running uncontested. That year only 46.5 percent of the voters turned out.

However, it didn't come close to the historic 2008 election, which ended with the selection of President Barack Obama. That year more than 71 percent of the voters turned out.


Sentinel-News Correspondent Ryan Conley contributed to this report.