Voter turnout was so heavy across Connecticut on Tuesday that polls were extended for two extra hours, until 10 p.m., at 12 precincts in Bridgeport.
An emergency hearing was held after polling issues arose in 12 out of 23 precincts in Bridgeport, where some polling locations ran out of ballots.
The problem happened because Bridgeport elections officials ordered 21,000 ballots in a city where there are 69,000 registered voters. To make up for the shortfall, elections volunteers photocopied ballots and handed them out until new ballots could be delivered.
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said one Democrat and one Republican made the "unfortunate decision" not to order enough ballots.
"The decision on how many ballots to have printed is entirely a local decision made by both Republican and Democratic Registrars of Voters based on the anticipated turnout for the election," she said. "We have always recommended to the Registrars of Voters to order enough ballots to cover every single registered voter within their jurisdiction if there was a 100% turnout. "
Had the city ordered 69,000 ballots, one for each registered voter, "we wouldn’t have had this problem," Bysiewicz said.
Her office told registrars of voters that if they did not have enough ballots, the ballots could be photocopied and filled out with pen.
All of the photocopied ballots are legal and will be counted by hand in public at the registrar's office and Bridgeport poll results will come in late.
The shortage happened in the state's largest city, which is a traditionally Democratic stronghold. At Central High School, there was a long line and several people left. A member of the local NAACP said they will be launching an investigation.
The reverse 911 system was activated to let voters know they have until 10 p.m. to vote.
Just after 9 p.m., Dan Malloy, the Democrat running for governor, send out a news blast telling people about the polls remaining open.
Elaine Ficara, a spokesperson for Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, said turnout was much higher than anticipated, that the ballot problem was a statewide issue and that no one in Bridgeport had been turned away from a polling place.
The lines were so long at one point that pizzas were being handed out to voters. By 7 p.m., more ballots had arrived and lines were moving again, city officials said.
The Democratic party and Finch, who is a Democrat, asked Bysiewicz to keep polls open until 10 p.m. to allow for people who left polls without voting to return and vote, according to the Connecticut Post.
The city of Bridgeport and the Democratic party called for the hearing and Bysiewicz, along with representatives of both parties and the attorney general's office, met with a judge, who decided to extend poll hours in the city.
State GOP Chairman Chris Healy said is taking on the issue of the photocopied ballots and filed a complaint about with the Election Enforcement Commission.
He said allowing voters to use copied ballots violates the law and jeopardizes the integrity of the voting process and ballot security.
Bethel and Meriden were also reporting problems with polling stations running out of ballots, according to the Secretary of the State's office.
Bysiewicz predicted voter turnout statewide could be around 60 percent, and possible 65 percent, by the time the polls close.
Polls remain open until 10 p.m. at:
- Beardsley School, 500 Huntington Ave.
- Read Middle School, 130 Ezra St.
- Central High School, 1 Lincoln Blvd.
- John Winthrop School, 85 Eckart St.
- Hallen School, Division St.
- Thomas Hooker School, Roger Williams Road
- Black Rock School, 545 Brewster St.
- John F. Kennedy Campus, 700 Palisade Ave.
- Blackham School, 425 Thorme St.
- Park City Magnet School, 1526 Chopsey Hill Road
- City Hall, 45 Lyon Terrace Longfellow School, 139 Ocean Terrace.
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