Voting Problems Reported In Harrison County

Election analysts predicted a good voter turnout for the 2007 elections. And from all indications, polling places have been quite busy.

As with any election, there were a few problems that had to be corrected, so voters could actually vote.  For instance, long lines and confusion greeted voters at the North Bel Aire voting precinct.

"It was a little chaotic at first," said Harrison County's deputy circuit clerk Connie Ladner. "They had a lot of people in line."

And several of them couldn't get ballots. North Bel Aire has 1,200 registered voters. And for this election, it needed five different ballots, because of the way house and senate lines are drawn in that district.

Poll workers quickly realized they didn't have enough ballots for one of the races. Mid-morning voters like Dallas Long got temporarily turned away by the ballot snafu. Long returned a couple of hours later to make sure he participated in the election.

"Discouraging," was the word he used to describe the initial mess.

"I didn't understand. So when I don't understand something, I come back and find out. And I do understand, I voted. That's good enough for me."

To expedite the situation, a touch screen voting machine was programmed and put on line by Harrison County's Circuit Clerk's office.

Deputy clerk Connie Ladner explained why Harrison County turned to the touch screens by saying, "Because this precinct is split several different ways with house and senate districts, we just had to get a system going to allow the poll workers giving out the ballots to know which ballot styles to give to the voter."

It wasn't nearly as confusing at the Outside Long Beach polling place. Just 516 people are registered to vote here. Yet, because of legislative boundaries, this precinct needed seven different ballots. But with a light early turnout on Canal Road, Linda Havers' team avoided most of the election day headaches.

"It's pretty slow, not a big turnout," the precinct manager said.

WLOX News stopped by three other precincts in Harrison County. They all had moderate to good turnout in the early hours of the 2007 elections.

Two candidates contacted the Harrison County Circuit Clerk's office because ballots with their names on them either ran out, or weren't given to the right voters. The circuit clerk's office investigated the complaints. Nobody is saying whether the discrepancies could impact election results.