Voter turnout strong in Union County


Election officials are pleased with Tuesday’s voting process.
“It went really well,” said Tina LaRoche, director of the Union County Board of Elections. “I think it went really smoothly.”
LaRoche said Union County was part of a nationwide trend that saw near record turnout for midterm elections. In Union County, 23,674 votes were counted on Election Day. That represents about 61.2 percent of all eligible voters. LaRoche said that in 2014, the last similar election, 42 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
“To have more than 61 percent is very high,” LaRoche said. “I think both sides going into this election said it would be one of the most important elections ever.”
She added that nationally there was “just a lot of buzz around the election.”
Robert Parrott of the elections board said it is good for the process to have so much buzz and such a high voter turnout.
“It is important and I am so excited that so many people around the county wanted to have their voice heard,” Parrott said.
LaRoche said 4,155 voters cast ballots at the board of elections office in the weeks and days before actual Election Day. She said 4,011 residents requested absentee ballots by mail.
She said most of them have been returned. Between provisional ballots and absentee ballots not yet received, there could be as many as 978 uncounted ballots.
“I think that is great, that people are able to come in and vote early or to request a ballot by mail and that people are taking advantage of that,” LaRoche said.
She added that she believes more people will take advantage of the early voting options as they become familiar with them. She added that while older generations enjoy going to the polls on Election Day, younger generations appreciate the ease over the social aspect of voting.
“With the younger generations, as long as it is convenient, they don’t worry about where they vote or when,” LaRoche said.
The additional voting options do pose more work for the board of elections staff. By state law, the board will be open every day, including weekends and holidays, for at least seven days following the election. She said those who vote absentee or provisional have a chance to “cure” their ballot during those seven days. LaRoche explained that sometimes absentee ballots are not complete or are missing identification. Those voters are notified and they can come to the board office during the seven-day period to fix the problem. Additionally, a voter who cast a provisional ballot with issues can come to the office to resolve the issue.
She said board staff will be checking provisional and absentee ballots that come in to prepare for the official canvass Nov. 19.
“We will have everything ready for the board members on that day,” LaRoche said. “We will present all of the provisional and absentees that weren’t received before Tuesday and we will make recommendations to the board. Obviously, the decision will be up to them at that point.”
LaRoche said the board and staff are already looking at elections for next year and how they can make the process better for candidates, voters and for Election Day workers. She said the board is working to host an informational workshop for potential candidates and those wanting to file an issue. She also said ballots will hopefully be cast using a new system by next year.
“We will go through quite a bit of training on that to make sure everything goes smoothly for the poll workers and for the voters,” LaRoche said.

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