GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Long lines are expected at the polls on Election Day, but this year some voters are worried about the security of their ballot and social distancing.
Grand Rapids voter April Seibold says she and many other voters arrived at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and anticipated casting their ballots at North Peak Elementary, but technical issues ruined their in-person voting experience. When they arrived to vote, they found out a tabulator was not working.
"Were trying to put their ballots in the machine, and it wasn't working. So, they made a bunch of phone calls, and what the end game was, was that they took all our ballots and had us place them in the broken machine and a slot to be counted later," said Seibold.
Seibold says she and others were told to place their ballots in the tabulator box for it to be counted later, but she is now concerned on what happens with her ballot now that she can't see it be counted.
"What really is disappointing is that, you know, they've got all these established on Plainfield, and I could have went to a dropbox and done the same thing I did here," said Seibold. "I don't feel like my vote actually counted. I wanted that closure, and I wanted my vote to count, and I want to see it go on the machine. I want to know that my voice counts. And I think that we're going to run into a lot of problems, and a lot of the people that were there had that same ideas. Who's putting the votes in for us?"
In a statement, the Secretary of State said:
"When the tabulator does not work the ballot is put in an auxiliary bin and is later placed through the tabulator by bipartisan team of election inspectors. There is no chance for fraud to occur with them, and the ballots are secure."
The Grand Rapids city clerk, Joel Hondorp, said issues like this are not uncommon. In this specific case, Hondorp said the tabulator was tested before Election Day and did not have any issues. The tabulator was fixed later Tuesday morning, and the ballots were scanned through the tabulator.
However, another issue Seibold experienced was that polling booths were not socially distanced at all, despite the city encouraging voters social distance at the polls. Hondorp confirmed her statement saying the booths were close together, despite CDC six-foot distance recommendations.
"Because of the booth in the booth designs that we have, a couple of them are a little bit closer," said Hondorp. "So we're trying to keep people distance, but we want to get people voting as well. So, yeah, so some of the booth designs we have two next to each other. So we're trying to use all the equipment we have, or if we didn't have that, then we could have less people voting."
The CDC has recommendations for poll workers and officials on Election Day, stating "distance should be increased between voting booths to ensure that voters remain 6 feet apart."