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Clerk’s Office handles larger-than-expected crowds during first day of early voting

October 14, 2020 | 12:11 am

Updated October 14, 2020 | 12:48 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

Early in-person voting for the November election began Tuesday with larger-than-expected crowds. According to the Daviess County Clerk’s Office, 1,559 voters cast their ballots on the first day, prompting officials to add additional poll workers at the available sites. 

Early in-person voting is available at Daviess County Courthouse and the former Burke’s Outlet in Towne Square Mall. Due to the long lines and parking issues faced by voters on Tuesday, officials are recommending residents vote at the former Burke’s Outlet over the next few days. 

“We strongly encourage people to consider the Towne Square Mall site during the week for its parking, social distancing, and for its shorter wait times. However, we believe Saturdays will work well for the courthouse location,” Deputy Clerk Richard House said. 

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House said the Towne Square Mall location could accommodate up to 10 check-in stations while the courthouse could only feasibly hold one. On Tuesday, however, another check-in station was added to accommodate the long line of voters. 

“The Towne Square Mall location had, at its longest, a wait time of 20-25 minutes, while the Courthouse had a considerable wait at peak times,” he added. 

In addition to in-person voting, House said more than 13,600 absentee ballots have been mailed out. Of those, 6,100 have been returned and logged in.

As of Tuesday evening, the only drop box for absentee ballots is located in the lobby of the Daviess County Courthouse.

“We have not received the other boxes, and the vendor has until Oct. 15 to make delivery of these to the County per the update from the State Board of Elections,” House said.  

Aside from long lines, other issues faced by election officials included scheduling confusions faced by two poll workers who did not initially show up. House said the issues were corrected as soon as possible by the Republican and Democratic Board of Elections. 

An error was also made by a poll worker at the Towne Square Mall site, which led to four individuals being issued the wrong ballot style. 

“Daviess County has 24 different ballot styles for this election and each check-in station has a container of ballots with a file folder separating each style,” House explained. “Protocol is, a clerk that checks in a voter then verbally verifies the ballot style with the judge sitting beside them. That judge then is to look at the ballot style listed in the top right corner of each ballot to perform a second check before issuing the ballot.” 

An error was made by a poll worker in putting four ballots into the wrong corresponding folders. That led to a complaint from two residents who, after voting, came back and said they hadn’t seen any City elections on their ballots. The problem was identified before their ballots had been scanned, so both were reissued new ballots.

However, two voters had already cast their ballots, and House said nothing could be done to remedy their issue. 

“Once a ballot is cast and scanned, the voter has voted and that vote can’t be extracted from the machine because all ballots that go into an Escan are secret ballots and not identifiable,” House said. “This affected the husband and wife that reported the issue. Our office strongly encourages anyone who thinks their ballot isn’t correct to contact us before casting your ballot.” 

Going forward, House said the Clerk’s Office will have more poll workers than originally expected at the two locations. 

“Ending on a good note, a lot of people started taking advantage of this increased opportunity to vote ahead of Election Day,” House said. 

October 14, 2020 | 12:11 am

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