Orange County supervisor of elections addresses ballot issues

Orange County Supervisor of Elections addresses ballots running out

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Residents are asking questions about how several Orange County precincts ran out of ballots Tuesday for the Florida primary.
 
An inquiry has been launched to figure out what happened, but the county's supervisor of elections, Bill Cowles, took some of the responsibility.
 
The numbers were being transposed for printing with the party ballots and the nonpartisan ballots in precincts that also had municipal elections on Tuesday, Cowles said.
 
This was the first time that precinct-specific ballots were used. The new system, combined with human error, was likely the reason for the shortage, Cowles said.
 
The problem was fixed within a few hours, but Orange County elections supervisor Bill Cowles had asked Scott to allow precincts affected by the ballot shortage to stay open until 8 p.m.

In an emailed statement released by Cowles at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday, the Florida Secretary of State's Office explained why there would not be an extension for the affected Orange County precincts.

"The Secretary and (Cowles) have been in regular communication throughout the day," the statement said. "They have revisited the supervisor's request to extend hours and reviewed the corrective steps that have been taken, the timeframe in which the issues were resolved and the multiple options voters were given to case their vote today."

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"There were many things being done to make sure that we (righted) the situation and (were) able to get the voters back to voting and not be turned away, and we believed that by 2 p.m. (Tuesday), we had everything righted, and so there were about five hours of voting still left in the day," Cowles said.
 
Cowles said he is going precinct to precinct to see how many voters were turned away. The numbers of precincts and people who were turned away are still being determined.