Humidity leads to ballot counting problems

Today’s humidity did more than make voters uncomfortable — it also helped gum up the works during vote counting at the county courthouse, election officials said.

Marni Penrod, deputy Douglas County Clerk, said Tuesday night that one of the county’s two vote counting machines typically was susceptible to minor problems related to the counting of paper ballots. But today, in particular, the high humidity made some ballots stick together and the machine had trouble counting some ballots.

Ballots from two precincts were particularly troublesome: Those from the North Wakarusa precinct, which votes at Wakarusa North Fire Station and those from the Coffin Sports complex at Haskell Indian Nations University. Neither of those polling stations have air conditioning.

“There were a lot of problems with those ballots, Penrod said. “They’ve gathered a lot of humidity all day.”

Each of the two voting machines cost about $80,000. Penrod said buying a new one isn’t in the picture because of the cost.

“It’s not worth it for results to be 30 minutes faster,” Penrod said.

Ballots from the last of the county’s 67 precincts came in at 8:55 p.m. The last precinct reporting was the polling station at Free State High School.