Some Canyon County precincts experienced glitch with new voting technology, forcing them to temporarily turn some voters away

Posted at 10:51 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 01:04:20-04

IDAHO — UPDATED STORY (March 10, 10:55 p.m.):

Poll workers in some Canyon County precincts had to think on-the-fly Tuesday when a glitch in their new voting technology disrupted the process, forcing them to send some voters away before they were able to cast their vote.

You may recall, last week, we showed you the new voting machines called "Verity Duo" that Canyon County rolled out.

"With this new system, in theory, a voter cannot get the wrong ballot," said Chris Yamamoto, Canyon County Clerk. "This is all new equipment."

They used those machines for the first time Tuesday — but officials said a coding error happened this morning, meaning the machines were not properly reading bar codes that poll workers scanned to allow each person to vote.

That made for some long lines at polling places throughout Canyon County, and many people who couldn't wait around to get a ballot.

“We're still going over and talking to the people, our vendor, as to how that occurred -- why that occurred," said Yamamoto, after the glitch was resolved.

“But when we found out about it, we did a work-around until we came up with a fix," said Yamamoto.

Part of that work-around meant that poll workers took the names and phone numbers of some people who were unable to vote during the morning glitch, and called them back to come and vote once the glitch was solved — which it was, shortly after.

An Ada County poll worker, on the other hand, said the District Judge came around routinely today to fill them in on anything that’s happening in other precincts, and reported they did not face the same issue.

"Everything seems to be running real smooth, at least on our end," said Cheryl Barton, Chief Judge, Precinct 1915 in Ada County.

Like Canyon, this Ada County poll worker says they saw steady attendance throughout the day, and that she thinks those warm temps outside didn’t hurt voter turn out.

“Awesome day to get out of the house. Get out and vote!” said Barton.

Follow along with us in coming days as we work to understand the magnitude of this issue in Canyon County precincts.

The 2020 Idaho Presidential Primary Election is Tuesday, and you can expect some big changes this year for Democrats. Instead of a caucus, which Democrats held in 2016, the election will be a state-run primary for both parties, where Idahoans vote by private ballot.

Polls open at 8 a.m. local time and close at 8 p.m. Click here to find out where you can vote. To view a sample ballot for Ada County, click here.

A Democratic candidate will need 1,991 delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the democratic national convention. The state of Idaho has 25 delegates, but only 20 of those delegates are awarded on the basis of popular vote.

This year's caucus will mean the lines should be shorter, with less wait time for results. Last time, lines reportedly wrapped for more than a mile through Boise during the 2016 Democratic Caucus.

But with a more efficient voting process in mind, new technology is being introduced this election in both Ada and Canyon Counties.

"We're going through, and making sure that a vote for Donald Trump goes to Donald Trump -- that a vote for Joe Biden goes to Joe Biden -- that a vote for Bernie Sanders goes to Bernie Sanders," said Phil McgGane, Ada County Clerk.

"We can have multiple ballots in a precinct in fact as many as 17 different ballots," said Chris Yamamoto, Canyon County Clerk. "[And] that can get really confusing. So with this new system -- in theory -- a voter can not get the wrong ballot."

So who can we expect to win delegates on the Democrat side?

Well let's start with what Idaho voters are looking for: recent data from Boise State shows that overall voters care most about education, economy, healthcare, and growth. Thus, it’s safe to say they’ll be voting based on their interest in those categories.

In 2016, Idaho voters went with Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton, and by a wide margin with 78% of the vote.

Sanders also managed to bring out new, previously unregistered voters in 2016, so it should be interesting to see if those voters turn out again for Sanders.

It should be noted, to vote in the Republican Primary, you must be a registered Republican, which is something you can do at the polls Tuesday if you're currently unaffiliated. The Democratic Primary is more open; unaffiliated voters can participate without registering as Democrats. However, registered Republicans cannot.

If you're already registered as a Democrat or Republican, it's too late to change your affiliation for Tuesday's election.