BARNSTABLE, MASS. (WHDH) – Barnstable volunteers counted ballots late into the night after primary ballots locked inside a vault in town hall delayed voting Tuesday.
Voting officials said neighboring town clerks also pitched in to help with the count after finishing in their towns.
“Things happen and you can’t prevent everything so we’re very lucky, very very lucky,” said Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk.
At 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday the Town Clerk’s office in Barnstable said they were unable to open the vault that houses about 4,000 mail-in election ballots ahead of primary elections, which were set to begin at 7 a.m. on Tuesday/ The Town Clerk’s office said they were working diligently to get the safe open, calling in police, fire, DPW and locksmiths since they first discovered the problem early Tuesday morning. About 4,000 mail-in ballots were inside the safe that needed to be processed, as well as blank ballots which were supposed to be sent to 13 precincts in 12 different locations for voters to fill out Tuesday morning.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who is also running for re-election, spoke with 7NEWS early Tuesday morning about the ballot issue in Barnstable.
“Every ballot is important, every race is important, every state-wide race is important,” said Galvin. “I’m sending people to Barnstable to be there, we will seek to extend the polling hours. We’ll be asking a judge to do that and make sure every voter gets the opportunity to vote today.”
Emergency paper ballots were printed for voters at 8 a.m. Tuesday and by 11 a.m. officials announced polls were back open for paper ballots. The town clerk’s office said voting hours would be extended Tuesday night to make up for the morning’s delay and a judge later approved the extension.
Volunteers carried out ballots that mattered most, getting them to each of the precincts in town after the ballots were finally free Tuesday night.
“The ones that were most important were the ones that were voted and they’ve gone out now to all the precincts,” Quirk said.
Everyone at town hall is confident, that with the vault finally open, the rest of the process will prove to be something voters can count on.
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