Election officials in St. Louis County, Missouri were repeatedly warned by local Election Integrity advocates that a plan to supply enough paper ballots for only 15% of the electorate at polling places on Election Day there would not be enough, according to emails obtained by The BRAD BLOG.
The emails, sent well before Election Day, expressed concern and doubt about "enough paper ballots at every polling place on November 4th to cover all of the voters who would like to have one," as one of advocates wrote to the Democratic Director of Elections in St. Louis County.
The warnings were ignored, the missives suggest, and, as reported by local media, the result was a widespread shortage of paper ballots on Election Day 2014 at sites throughout the county, including in the embattled city of Ferguson, MO. Throughout the county, the shortage of ballots resulted in long lines and voters who were turned away or forced to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems which the county has long encouraged voters to use. Some precincts were required to stay open at least an hour after the normal closing time in order to accommodate those who were in line to vote before the close of polls at 7pm local time.
St. Louis Public Radio reported the day after the election that "unexpected demand for paper ballots caused a shortage at about 95 polling places throughout the county Tuesday. That's more than 20 percent of the county's 444 balloting sites."
"The paper shortage," they explained, "was the biggest unexpected problem on Election Day."
But, in truth, it wasn't unexpected at all, at least according to emails we reviewed to and from the county's chief election official, suggesting that the Board of Elections simply ignored the clear warnings they had received from local Election Integrity experts...
Long lines, voters turned away, polls forced to stay open
On Election Night, we were first tipped off to the shortage of ballots in Ferguson, where officials might have expected an increased turnout this year, by a longtime reader who reported his own precinct in the town "ran out of paper ballots at 4:20 this afternoon and had hours long lines for 3 electronic voting machines."
The voter, Cary Aye, had refused to vote on the electronic touch-screen systems that the county offers alongside their hand-marked paper ballot system, even while officials in the county have long encouraged the use of the unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen systems. Aye was ultimately allowed to cast his vote on a paper ballot and told us that "there were 5 other people in the last of the line when at 8:10, a worker showed up with the ballots."
He was hardly alone in the inconvenience he faced.
St. Louis' CBS-TV affiliate KMOV reported voters were "angry" and "frustrated" by the long lines, the ballot shortages and by being forced to vote electronically.
The local CBS radio affiliate reported: "Director of County Elections Rita Days tells KMOX there's been an extraordinary run on paper ballots -- much more than the election authority anticipated." The popular local radio station reported "the shortage has been reported in all parts of St. Louis County," and that Days was "asking for voter patience."
"When you make it hard for people to vote," tweeted St. Louis voter Matt Fagin correctly that day, citing the ballot shortages, "you may discourage people from voting."
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