Record voting delays tallies in Ind.

May 7, 2008 9:59:55 AM PDT
Indiana's presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was not decided until early Wednesday morning because the results were slow to come in from Lake County. Officials say heavy turnout and a large number of absentee ballots caused the delay.Almost 1.7 million votes were cast in the Democratic and Republican races Tuesday, according to unofficial tallies by The Associated Press. That smashed the 1992 primary turnout of just over 1 million voters.

"Usually we might see this kind of turnout in a general election, but even so it's pretty much record numbers for us," said Michelle Fajman, Lake Co. Election Administrator.

Democratic voters across the country waited patiently late into the night to see what would happen in Lake County, Indiana. Obama supporters were hoping he would get a last-minute push, while Clinton supporters hoped she would hang on.

It was just after midnight that Hillary Clinton was declared the winner in Indiana.

Election officials in Lake County say the reason for the delay was an overwhelming number of voters this year and they also had to count more than 11,000 paper absentee ballots.

"We had a record number of absentee ballots so we were busy working on the absentee ballots when the cards started coming in. We were just trying to get as many in and on the records as possible before we started releasing totals," said Fajman.

A high number of Republican crossover votes sent several counties scrambling to print extra ballots. A judge ordered some polls in northwestern Indiana's Porter County to stay open an additional hour after several precincts ran out of Democratic ballots.

Other ballot shortages were reported in Howard, Jackson and Hancock counties as voters turned out in droves for the presidential race. Local voting officials printed substitute ballots that were to be counted by hand.

It took a while but the wait was well worth it for Indiana voters. Typically, when the primary rolls around to the Hoosier state, the candidates have already been picked. Not this year.

"Yeah, it felt good to be the deciding factor. It's about time Indiana was heard from," said Mike Beeson, Indiana voter.

"This was important. We discussed it. We were out the other day and we were all saying, 'Who are you voting for, who are you voting for?' It was important this year," said Mary Horvat, Indiana voter.

"It's my duty as a citizen to vote knowing that your vote counts because people don't take the time to go out and vote. They just feel like when the election comes, well, I don't have the time to vote, I don't want to vote. I don't want to pick the candidate. My vote doesn't count. But every vote does count," said Jose Santoyo, Indiana voter.

It was a big victory for Barack Obama in Lake County where he got 57 percent of the votes to Hilary Clinton's 43 percent. But statewide, Hilary Clinton won Indiana by a razor thin margin -- only two percent.

Wednesday morning, supporters of both candidates say they were expecting a tight race, and were excited to go to the polls this year.

"You know, it felt good because when I saw the votes keep coming up for hillary, I thought that was really good, you know. I just -- and I thought well, at least our vote did count this time," said Margaret Shinkle, Indiana voter.

"It's time for a change. We have already had a clinton in the white house. It's time to try something different," said Mike Beeson, Indiana voter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.


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