Polling hours extended in Maryland county, pollworkers improvise as problems mount

The Washington Post has additional coverage of the extension of polling hours in Montgomery County (Maryland). The lack of contingency planning for problems in polling place voting has led to amazing (or horrifying) stories of pollworkers who were forced to improvise:

Police officers were dispatched to polling stations where election officials hadn’t been able to reach precinct judges by telephone in order to instruct them to stay open an extra hour, according to Board of Elections lawyer Kevin Karpinski. He said that, in some cases, precinct judges were being asked to give voters a sample ballot and let them vote by filling out a sheet of paper indicating their choices.

At Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park, officials quickly ran out of paper ballots and began telling voters to use scraps of paper, said Kathryn Desmond, whose husband Dennis was voting with the makeshift paper ballots. Officials, she said, “were calling out the names on the ballot,” Kathryn Desmond said. About 50 people, Dennis Desmond estimated, were voting the same way after electronic balloting ended around 8 p.m. He said that election officials dispatched a worker to a nearby CVS to buy envelopes and masking tape so the makeshift ballots could be enclosed and sealed. “Voters were pretty patient. With each new announcement, you had to laugh. It got more and more ludicrous,” he said. He arrived at Piney Branch at 7:45 and according to what election board officials had promised, Desmond should have been able to vote electronically because he was in line before 8 p.m. But that was not the case. At 8:02 p.m. election judges said they were ending electronic voting and turning to provisional ballots. But they quickly ran out of ballots, Desmond said.

How all of this will be figured out as the evening progresses (and we get into the post-election canvass tomorrow) is anyone’s guess.