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Printing Ballots On Election Day

By Sarah Ventre
Published: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - 10:04pm
Updated: Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 8:52pm
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Jude Joffe-Block/KJZZ

Maybe you stopped by the polls this Election Day to cast your vote. But in at least one polling place, the poll workers had some trouble printing ballots.

Ben Lane, Deputy City Clerk for the City of Phoenix, said for elections like this one it's typical to print the ballots.

"To avoid having to pre-print 125 different ballot styles and make sure that 125 different ballot styles are at each voting center, cause that’s the number of precincts we have in the city, we print ballots on demand," Lane said.

Lane said when there’s a technical snafu, like a printer problem, there are back-up procedures. In one case, the ballot was printing crooked on the page and the poll workers were worried the scanner wouldn’t be able to read the votes.

"The machines do have some leniency in terms of what they’ll read," Lane said. "But if the machine doesn’t read it, it’s what’s known as outstacked, and basically what that means is the machine couldn’t read it and then it gets duplicated by a board."

The board Lane is referring to is a duplication board. It is made up of two people who take the ballot the machine couldn’t read, and duplicates the votes onto a ballot the machine can read.

"So each vote the voter had, the board marks that again onto a ballot that will be read by the tabulation equipment," Lane said.

In the case of the printer just going kaput, each polling place has pre-printed emergency ballots that also have to be duplicated. Lane said it’s rare that duplication has to happen at all.

"In terms of the grand scheme of all the ballots we get, I think right now we’ve duplicated 1 percent of all the ballots received," Lane said. "So it’s not a very high number."