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Newly elected Probate Judge vows to fix swollen ballot issue

The problem happened in Madison County and made some voters worry about whether or not the vote would be counted.

Posted: Nov. 8, 2018 9:48 PM
Updated: Nov. 9, 2018 3:34 PM

The Alabama Secretary of State's office said Madison County has work to do to fix the ballot swelling issue that happened at several polling locations on Tuesday.

WAAY 31 did some digging to find out what Frank Barger, the next probate judge for the county, plans on doing to solve the problem.

There are several trailers parked behind a fence topped with barbed wire that held the ballots before the election. Barger said the ballots did not sit through the rain on Monday night, but they did get loaded into the trailers in rain. That could have contributed to the ballot swelling, which caused concern for some Madison County voters.

Millie Dempsey is one of the voters who didn't have her vote tallied right away because her ballot was swollen and she was worried by the situation. 

"To me those ballots are like gold or money. They have to be protected, and I just didn't feel that I was sure mine was," said Dempsey.

The Alabama Secretary of State's office told WAAY 31 the ballots were protected and counted later, but the issue still came up. Barger said the ballots were loaded into the trailers the Thursday before election day in the rain. "I would have done what I could have to avoid that, but if you don't have the man power the next day, I don't know if they had another option," said Barger.

Barger said he plans on being fully committed to fixing the issue, "Is it a staffing issue? Can we work better with our county departments on that? Do we have a backup or a contingency plan? Are other machines available? Do we hold a portion of the ballots back in our storage area if this is an issue in the future? There's several things we can look at to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Dempsey said hearing that makes her happy, "That makes me feel a lot better. A lot better."

Barger said Madison County wasn't the only place in the country where this was a problem. He said part of the solution might come from the company who prints the ballots and what sort of paper they are made from.

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