A malfunctioning ballot scanner on Tuesday night delayed a final vote count in Blaine County until Wednesday afternoon. However, County Clerk JoLynn Drage said a backup plan already in place—to have the ballots counted at the Twin Falls County Elections Department—went smoothly.
Drage said the county’s optical scanner jammed and then stopped counting ballots altogether about 2 a.m. Wednesday.
The county had switched from punch-card ballots to paper ballots counted by an optical scanner in 2008. Drage said the change was made because punch cards had become “almost extinct,” and it had become difficult to get the counters serviced and to buy supplies. She said the punch cards are also almost impossible to count by hand in an emergency.
Drage said the optical scanner cost about $85,000. She said the county’s backup plan works well enough that there has been no consideration given to buying a second one.
Drage said the ballots were placed in boxes that were sealed and driven to Twin Falls on Wednesday morning by a Blaine County sheriff’s deputy, who upon delivery certified that the seals had not been tampered with.
Drage said the counting was completed at about 2 p.m.
A spokeswoman for the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office said the delay did not pose problems for the statewide vote tally.