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Some absentee ballots were hand-counted

Published 11:18pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

An unprecedented number of absentee ballots cast in the city caused a nearly 24-hour delay on clear results for two close City Council races.

Election officials ultimately counted 5,802 absentee ballots, nearly 1,200 more than Suffolk voters cast in the 2008 elections.

Election officials Minnie Smith, standing, and Florence Byrd tabulate results from absentee ballots on Wednesday. The city received about 5,800 absentee ballots, nearly four times what Suffolk voters sent in 2004.

“I think there was keen interest in this election,” said Electoral Board Chairman Kenneth Carpenter.

The number of absentee ballots has nearly quadrupled since 2004, when Suffolk voters cast 1,469 absentee votes.

Carpenter said state code prohibits election officials from beginning to count ballots until 6 a.m. on Election Day, the same time that regular precincts open. Absentee votes are grouped into a precinct just like all the others, Carpenter said, so it must abide by the same rules.

A number of the absentee ballots were rejected by the optical scanner and had to be tabulated by hand, Carpenter said. The machine could reject ballots for any number of reasons, Carpenter said, giving as examples spilled food, stray or light marks and being slightly crumpled.

“You may be able to read it humanly, but that machine doesn’t accept it,” Carpenter said. “We’re dealing with computers.”

Carpenter wouldn’t speculate on whether all the people who voted absentee were truly entitled to do so.

“I think maybe people were urged to vote early if they could, and whether they told the truth on those absentee ballot (applications), God only knows. How do you go out and investigate one person when there’s thousands of them to investigate?”



    I also voted by absentee ballot due to health issues & resent the insinuation of fraud! How dare they; there are truly honest people out here.

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  • dollyb12

    I meant “us, the absentee voters.”

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  • dollyb12

    I truly resent the insinuation that those who voted by absentee ballot are suspected of fraud. My husband and I both have medical problems that prevent us from standing up long enough to vote in the never-ending long lines at the poles. In 2008, my husband and I did not vote because we could not find a place to park at the polling station! How about concentrating on doing something to speed up the in-person voting? Then, as in years past, we could actually vote in less than 60 minutes. Don’t put blame on we absentee voters.

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