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Primary day runs smoothly; counting votes takes days

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Recount for District 1 commission seat set for Thursday

  • Primary day runs smoothly; counting votes takes days

More Putnam County voters turned out for the June 9 primary election than ever have, according to numbers provided by the Putnam County Board of Elections and Registration, and one race remains to be determined.

BER Superintendent Lynne Laseter said 6,164 people voted out of the 15,054 registered voters, making a 40.95% turnout The turnout in 2018 was 25.89% (3,599 of 13,903) and 2016 had 38% (4,251 of 11,188), she said.

“All in all, Tuesday went well,” Laseter said. “There’s always a learning curve when implementing a new system, and my poll workers were excellent at getting voters in and out as efficiently as possible and managing any issues that they may have run into with some of the new equipment. The biggest slow down during the day was the number of people who had requested an absentee ballot (but then) decided they wanted to vote in person instead.”

The voters who commented on social media seemed to echo Laseter’s thoughts about getting in and out quickly, and no complaints were heard by the newspaper regarding long lines or wait times at the polls, as were reported in many other parts of the state.

Putnam poll workers tried to keep voters as safe and comfortable as possible regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Laseter said.

Those precautions included limiting the number of people allowed in each precinct at one time by reducing the number of voting booths, applying as much social distancing as possible, poll workers wearing masks and/ or face shields and gloves, hand sanitizer available for use, and alcohol wipes being used to clean the voting equipment “as often as possible between voters,” Laseter noted.

“I would like to thank the community for their patience,” she added. “2020 has thrown us some curveballs, and not having had the full Presidential Preference Primary in March robbed us of really stretching the legs on the new system before jumping off into an election with such high profile local races. But most of all, I would like to thank my poll workers for their hard work and dedication. It would be absolutely impossible to have any election without them and I cannot thank them enough.”

The problems seemed to arrive while votes were being counted, and the BER office ended up closing and locking its doors Thursday morning as voters and candidates became impatient to find out the results.

A sign on the door revealed “No phone. No internet. No results. A lot of frustration.”

Laseter said the ballots had all been scanned, but were stuck in the adjudication module.

“Our Dominion Tech is on the way right now and we hope to have results soon. The storm [Wednesday] afternoon fried our phones and internet and we are just now getting back on line. I apologize for the delay and realize how frustrating it is to have to wait so long for results. Please bear with us as we get these issues taken care of and results will be posted as soon as possible,” she replied in an email that day.

The final count was released Friday after all the provisional ballots that were eligible and all UOCAVA ballots that arrived on time were counted.

A recount is scheduled for today, Thursday, June 18, for the District 1 Commissioner candidates Kelvin Irvin (incumbent) and his challenger, Gary McElhenney, whose totals differed by only three votes.