Record voter turnouts in Tri-Cities lead to delays at the polls

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL)- Record turnout at the polls left some voters waiting for hours to cast their ballots in the Tri-Cities.

The Washington County, TN Administrator of Election Maybell Stewart said the numbers took them by surprise, and things will have to change before the presidential election in November.

According to Stewart, more than 24,000 people just in Washington County voted in the primary, a 37 percent voter turnout.

That’s about double the voter turnout from 2012.

Election officials tell us they knew this year would bring in crowds, but just how many took them by surprise.

“I was disappointed that they weren’t more prepared,” Washington County voter Patricia Barraclough said.

Barraclough said she went to vote Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in Washington County.

“I’m patient I can sit and wait,” Barraclough said.

But even she has her limit. Barraclough said right before it was her turn her polling location ran out of applications to vote.

She waited “from 3:30 until a quarter after five,” Barraclough said.

She said the officials tried calling the election commission but the lines were tied up.

“They called and it took them probably over ten minutes two of them calling the number before they got a hold of somebody and they said they’d send somebody right out and it didn’t happen,” Barraclough said.

Finally after nearly two hours of waiting she had to leave for a doctor’s appointment.

“You get cheated if you can’t vote,” Barraclough said.

By the time she was done, the polls were closed.

Stewart said they thought they had prepared, and even ordered extra applications. Stewart said still some places ran out but enough applications eventually got to the polling locations and everyone still in line was able to vote.

But some people like Barraclough couldn’t stick around that long and didn’t get to cast their vote.

“They better be more prepared with the general election because that would be a disaster,” Barraclough said.

Stewart said in November they will increase the number of applications they order and the number of workers helping.

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