Additional procedural problems crop up, but now in Wisconsin

Adding to the reports of problems in Maryland yesterday are reports of at least two different types of procedural problems in voting yesterday in Milwaukee. According to reports in the Milwaukee Journal Standard, voters were confused by the primary election procedures and voters were provided the wrong ballots:

Throughout the area, some voters were confused and frustrated by the restriction at requires them to vote for candidates from one party only.

Voters, for example, couldn’t cast a ballot for Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. in the Democratic primary for sheriff and then vote for a candidate in the Republican race for attorney general. Ballots with crossover votes are rejected by the tabulators, or counting machines, and voters are given a new ballot and instructions to follow the one-party rule

At 15 to 20 polling places in Milwaukee, workers mistakenly distributed to the general voting public special ballots used for people with disabilities, said Sue Edman, executive director of the City Election Commission. The tabulators won’t accept the auto-mark ballots, which are a different size than the standard voting form. Technicians scrambled to assist poll workers once the rejected ballots started to pile up, and election officials quickly hit on the source of the problem.

On Milwaukee’s east side, voters in at least one ward missed the opportunity to vote in the 7th District Senate race when the printing on disability ballots failed to include the candidates’ names.

Confusion by pollworkers and voters regarding primary election procedures has been reported in early primaries. For example, we saw such confusion in our observation study of the June primary in Orange County (California), and in the analysis of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) primary. Given that confusion over primary election procedures seeems so widespread, it is clear that more research is needed to document the extent of these procedural problems and to figure out how to better inform pollworkers and the electorate about primary election procedures.

For additional coverage of the Wisconsin primary and the various snafus that cropped up, see Electionline Today.