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Record turnout causes ballot shortages

Posted at 9:18 AM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 09:18:58-05

It was a hectic Primary in Michigan.

"We were a little bit surprised by exactly how many people turned out in a lot of locations," explained Lansing's Clerk, Chris Swope.

He told us that he was prepared for a 50% turnout. And, although only 31% of registered voters cast a ballot, several precincts saw more voters than usual.

"We have some precincts that have really good turnout consistently and none of those ran out of ballots, it was the ones that are a little more inconsistent," he said.

Those 10 or more precincts had to ask voters to wait a few minutes while the ballots were photo-copied and hand delivered to each spot.

"I'm not terribly happy about that, but we did what we could and we had a procedure in place," Swope explained. "They take those ballots that haven't been through the tabulator and they put them in piles by candidate; and then, they count how many votes per candidate, then they do a tally sheet of that and that gets reported to the county."

Swope assured us that every ballot cast was counted.

Which Susan Demas of Inside Michigan Politics said is crucial, looking at the small margin Senator Bernie Sanders won by.

"He did a blitz at the end. And I think his ground game here was a lot stronger than people thought, you know. He had really enthusiastic volunteers and they sure succeeded in getting out the vote," Demas said.

Plus, she added that it's evident Michigan voters were trying to send an "anti-establishment" message.

"Some people are angry at President Obama, some people are angry at Governor Snyder, some people are angry over Flint water. A lot of people don't feel like their voices are being heard," she explained.

So, they went to the polls in record numbers.

Demas told us the turnout was especially strong among younger voters and minorities. And most of them voted for Senator Sanders.

Pollsters, including Democrats, underestimated the support Sanders was getting in Michigan.

Demas said the fact that all of the polls were wrong was a "massive failure." She said it comes down to how the polls were conducted.

Demas explained, "There's a lot of automated polling that gets done in Michigan and a lot of us rely on it because live operator is incredibly expensive, but with new federal regulations, you don't get cell phones. And that means you're missing a lot of younger voters, you're missing minority voters and in this Democratic Primary in particular, that was a huge problem."

Some pollsters also think Clinton supporters might have assumed she had it in the bag and so they decided to vote in the Republican Party instead.

The number of people who voted for someone else in the Democratic Primary was 22,500. That would have been enough to give Clinton the win.