Maybe, but election ‘lessons’need be lesarnedin Frederick
Maybe, but election ‘lessons’ need be learned in Frederick
Frederick County voting officials, including freshman Director of Elections/General Registrar Rich Venskoske, say “lessons” have been “learned” in the wake of Tuesday’s mistake-ridden voting process. We certainly hope so; voters waiting to cast ballots at 10:30 p.m. (Orchard View and Armel elementary schools) simply does not cut it, and should never, ever be reprised.
That said, though, Mr. Venskoske et al., while guilty of errors relative to the number of ballots ordered, may also have fallen victim to a so-called “perfect storm.” As a first-year registrar, Mr. Venskoske, with the approval of the county electoral board, followed tradition and protocol in ordering ballots.
Usually in years preceding a presidential election (i.e., when all 140 seats in the General Assembly, plus local offices, are on the ballot) roughly 25 to 30% of the county’s electorate vote. Thus, standard procedure dictates that, just to be on the safe side, enough ballots to satisfy a 35% turnout be obtained. And that is precisely how many Mr. Venskoske ordered.
It wasn’t enough, by a long shot, as nary one of the 21 Frederick precincts had sufficient ballots to handle demand. The numbers tell all. Some 42% (25,038 of 59,561 registered voters) went to the polls Tuesday. One reason Mr. Venskoske noted: Intense interest in the sheriff’s race between incumbent Independent Lenny Millholland and Republican challenger Allen Sibert.
A paucity of ballots proved not to be the only problem in Frederick. Paper jams at the scanners also gummed up the works, leading to delays. The fact that many precincts had but one scanner only magnified the slowdowns. Hence, a question: Why but one scanner?
Interestingly enough, no ballot shortages were reported in Winchester or Clarke County, whose voter turnouts were 38 percent and 49 percent respectively. Winchester did have a software glitch on some of its machines when polls opened, but it was rectified.
So what happened in Frederick? A “perfect storm”? Perhaps, but that’s hardly a reason to write off this election as an anomaly. Which Mr. Venskoske and his team are not going to do apparently. Lessons will be learned.