Commissioner: Some York County polling locations ran out of ballots during primary

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
Advent Lutheran Church during the primary election in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Tuesday's primary election in York County saw issues at certain polling places.

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said some polling locations had run low or out of ballots.

"We had polling locations that were running low and called or ran out and called. So yes, we had polling locations that ran out of ballots, that was an issue (Tuesday)," Wheeler said. 

Wheeler said election officials were able to get more ballots to polling locations.

"We know that any time that polling locations are out of ballots, voters are having to wait," she said. She noted that there were other options for voting, like voting at the ADA machine or filling out a provisional ballot.

"We mobilized the best we could to deploy additional ballots to those polling locations that needed them," she said

Now, the county will need to make a deep dive into what happened and figure out how to fix it.

"We need to look at the formula that was used to calculate the number of ballots that was printed, we need to confirm that that was the request of the mailhouse that was made to print the ballots, and we also need to confirm that that was what we have back," Wheeler said. "We're going to dig into those numbers. We're going to look at those polls —  who ran low, who didn't run low — and see if we can determine what was driving that."

Wheeler said that may involve printing an excess of ballots, but officials don't want people standing in line waiting for ballots.

"It will be a bit of a balancing act, but those are the decisions and things we need to look at as we move forward and make the process better," she said. 

Along with performing that postmortem, Wheeler said the county must also count provisional and military ballots as well as adjudicate write-in names. 

Tuesday's election saw a massive increase in turnout over 2019's primary election. In 2019, 41,534 voted; Tuesday, 74,231 voted. That's 32,697 more voters, an almost 79% increase. In 2019, turnout was 15.82% when compared against voters registered; this year's primary was 24.46%, a number that will rise as provisional and military ballots are counted.

This year also saw Republicans out in force: 47,666 Republicans voted in Tuesday's election, which Wheeler noted was more than the total amount of voters in 2019. There were 4,400 nonparty affiliated voters, while 22,165 Democrats voted.