Voter turnout high in Shenandoah County

WOODSTOCK – High voter turnout in Shenandoah County on Tuesday took election officials by surprise.

General Registrar Lisa W. McDonald said Wednesday that the Electoral Board spent the day canvassing the ballots and would need to continue their work today. Once the board completes the work, they will send the ballots to the Department of Elections for their review.

Election officials didn’t anticipate the high turnout at the polls that, in some races, exceeded 40 percent. As a result, the county ran out of paper ballots, McDonald said.

“The beauty of the election was that we had such a wonderful turnout but it was more than we predicted,” McDonald said. “At some point I was seeing numbers hitting like, you know, 40 percent.”

The registrar had to do an emergency printing to replenish the ballots. The Electoral Board used turnout data from past elections to estimate the number of ballots the county would need when it placed the order earlier in the year.

However, election officials had to count the emergency paper ballots by hand and that kept them working late into night, causing a delay in the reporting of the unofficial results, McDonald explained.

The voting machines also didn’t always function as smoothly as expected.

“We did have some jams,” McDonald said. “We were able to take care of those problems.”

The optical scan voting machines did jam on occasion as voters turned in ballots. The on-call technician, Michael Shumaker, helped troubleshoot or fix the problems as they arose during the course of the election and afterward, McDonald said. The technician also visited the precinct polling locations to check on the equipment.

The Woodstock precinct experienced the most problems with machine jams, McDonald said. But the machines worked once the jam was fixed, she added.

This marked McDonald’s first time as a registrar and helping to oversee an election. McDonald worked as the clerk of the Clarke County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court until she assumed the role of registrar a month ago. She replaced longtime General Registrar Lisa P. McDonald who resigned in September.

“It was pretty chaotic,” McDonald said. “It was intense but it was also exciting and everything worked out.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com