November 4th, 2008
01:38 PM ET
14 years ago

Paper towels solve NC soggy ballot problem

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Voters were in line before sunrise at one North Carolina polling place Tuesday morning."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Rain in parts of North Carolina caused some early problems for voters using optical scanner ballots Tuesday, but a memo about using paper towels seemed to dry up the problem, according to North Carolina officials.

Voters were coming into voting locations early Tuesday morning and getting the paper ballots wet as they handled them, according to Gary Bartlett, Executive Director of the North Carolina Election Board.

"We sent out a memo to the county election boards asking them to hand out paper towels to voters before they were given a ballot," Bartlett said.

Bartlett was not sure how many calls his office received Tuesday, but he said it was very few before he recognized the potential problem and sent out the message.

The problem seemed to subside, Bartlett said, as he saw a drop in the number of calls reporting the wet ballot problem later in the morning.

Optical scanner ballots use a paper ballot that is filled out by voters in pencil and then slid into a machine that reads the ballot.

If the ballot is wet the machine has trouble feeding the paper and it can jam or tear.

Two individual reports of wet ballot problems were reported in Wake County, NC Tuesday, according to election officials.

Wake County covers the area around the state capital, Raleigh.

One wet ballot jammed in a machine, forcing voting officials at the polling location to replace the machine and re-scan the ballot.

A second ballot jammed and was ripped when it was pulled back out of the machine. The individual was allowed to fill out another ballot and the old ballot was cancelled, according to Cherie Poucher, Director of the Wake County Election Board.

One common problem in North Carolina is voters voting a straight ticket ballot.

The ballot is designed to put the vote for president in a different column when voting for a single party. Voters sometimes miss the different column to vote for President.

The ballot has been in use since the late 1960's, but questions by voters often come up, Bartlett said.

Counties were again warned of the problem and told to inform voters if they were going to vote a straight ticket, according to Bartlett.

Wake County handed out flyers to both early voters and voters on Tuesday to remind them of how the ballot works, according to Poucher.

"We have received just a handful of calls about this issue this year," Poucher said.

Filed under: North Carolina • Voter Problems
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. ET Awful

    Hey InTx – it's not that they're giving the ballots outside, it's that people are wet because it's raining (funny how that works) and water from their hands, jackets, hats, etc. drips on to the ballots.

    Just how backwoods are they in Tx that something like that isn't obvious?

    November 4, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. NCObamagirl

    I was a poll watcher this morning. It was pouring. Do not demonstrate your ignorance by asking if there are roofs in North Carolina.

    November 4, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. anon


    It is not wise to ramble off about another region when your post is lacking any thought at all. It is possible that while standing in line in the rain, jackets, hats, wet and when the individuals were inside and recieved their ballots the water on the jackets dripped. Please think before you post something idiotic.

    NC resident

    November 4, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  4. ELA in NC

    It doesn't matter what state you are from or how they vote every method had it's issues. As for online voting, can you imagine the draw that would have to a hacker?

    November 4, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Chad Bryden

    Chad Bryden for President!

    November 4, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  6. Nick

    They were inside. People were wet as they went inside and got water from their clothes or hair or wherever on the ballot.

    November 4, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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