Officials in Hinds County are pointing fingers of blame over an election night disaster that caused long lines a number of polling sites. Some sites ran short of ballots and voters had to wait while more were printed. The shortage was part of an effort by the election commission to save money...which might have violated state law.
Hinds County Election commissioner Connie Cochran counts ballots in the basement of the courthouse Wednesday morning.
Cochran says the commission misjudged how many voters would turn out and printed too few ballots.
"It is a new experience for us. And we do understand what the law says that you are supposed to print 75-percent of registered voters. As a cost saving measure to try to analyze what the turn out would be we fell short," Cochran said.
Cochran says they only printed about half as many ballots as they should have.
Commissioner Cochran says new machines recently purchased by the county that use scan-able fill in paper ballots are more cumbersome and expensive than the prior electronic touch screen machines.
But Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham is not buying that excuse and says there needs to be an investigation into the ballot shortfall.
"The machines can't work themselves. You have to have the paper there to put in them and make them work. The machines worked properly yesterday. We did not have anyone call and say the machines weren't working. We had people call and say 'we are out of ballots'," Graham said.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says its problematic that the commission choose to print fewer ballots than state law requires.
"Follow state law. That is why it is there. It doesn't say print 75-percent or some number that you think might be right," Hosemann said.
At some polling sites ballots did not arrive until after 8 o'clock when voters may have given up waiting and decided not to vote after all.