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County to voters: We hear your frustrations
Yuma County officials know that the long lines and technical difficulties at the 11 area voting centers made Election Day far from ideal.
Elections director Sue Reynolds told the county supervisors at their meeting Monday that she acknowledges equipment issues and takes responsibility for that.
“The lines were long and it was slow, and I'm sorry for that. We will make improvements in the coming months to deal with those issues and try to change that in 2014.”
The voting centers had lines of up to four hours and were rumored at even longer, frustrating many voters and forcing some to walk away without casting ballots because they had run out of time to wait.
Lines were closed at 7 p.m. but people were still waiting at 10 p.m., after President Barack Obama's second term and other races had been called.
Printers churning out ballots on demand also malfunctioned, although touchscreen voting machines were available. Reynolds said the printer vendors will be in town in early December take a look at the ballot printers.
Voting centers made their debut earlier this year, replacing the 39 polling sites for Yuma County's 42 precincts and saving the county about $50,000. Voters also used them, along with early mail voting and early in-person voting at the recorder's office for this year's presidential and local primaries.
But Nov. 6 was a big test for the system, with a voter turnout in Yuma County of more than 56 percent — or 42,521 cards cast, with 10,112 at the polls and another 2,239 provisional ballots.
The supervisors agreed Monday that it was encouraging to see so many voters committed to participating, and that the voting centers are a good concept, but they need refining.
Supervisor Russell McCloud made it clear that supervisors and county staff are listening to people's concerns.
“We acknowledge that there were issues, and I can also tell you that going forward those issues will be addressed,” he said. “What happened on Election Day really isn't acceptable to any of us. We do want to improve and we will.
“This is a learning process. Part of the issue was that Yuma County's being very proactive. Voting centers are a brand-new concept. They were designed to assist. And oftentimes with new things, new procedures, new ideas, it wasn't perfect — (it) will never be perfect, but it can be improved. It will be improved.”
McCloud thanked people for their patience in waiting to vote. “It wasn't convenient, but it was important.”
Supervisor Tony Reyes said voters relied on the familiar, such as in San Luis where even if they worked in Yuma and could use one of the voting centers here, they returned home to cast their ballots. And those who did so found one voting center there instead of two.
“The primaries, I think, worked well,” Reyes said. “I think that's what kind of made us feel comfortable that this was going to be the same situation. We had hardly any complaints in the primary, but the (turnout) numbers were quite a bit less.”
Supervisor Greg Ferguson said there was blame to go around. He said if people receive an early ballot, they should use it, and if they don't want to be on the permanent early voter list anymore, then they should take themselves off.
He said there should also be better follow-up to changing voter registration information when a citizen changes his address at the Motor Vehicle Department.