That, says Park County Clerk Jerri Torczon, is because the county's ballot-counting machines were incorrectly reading a code on the bottom right-hand side of the ballots as the precinct number. The good news is that problem was solved shortly after the polls opened, said Deputy Clerk Mike Demoney. Demoney said it did take some time to get the fix over to Powell (for example, a Tribune reporter who cast his ballot at 9:30 a.m. was directed to put his ballot in the emergency bin).
Outside of one machine that's being worked on, Demoney said the machines are working correctly now, and all the ballots -- including those that were put in the bins -- are being counted correctly. There will be no hand-counting needed as a result of the now-resolved issue.
A separate problem is proving trickier.
First, some background: when the general election ballots were initially drafted, a couple errors had been made. There was a mistake made in listing a Meeteetse Town Council race and, in a separate error, the Cody school board race was inadvertantly left off the ballots for the lower South Fork.
The clerk's office caught both of those errors and updated the effected ballots, Demoney said. Around 200 absentee voters in the South Fork area did receive incorrect ballots that lacked the school board race, but they were mailed new, corrected ones to replace them.
The problem today is that the ballot-counting machines are misreading the town council and school board races that were corrected. Demoney and the county's elections equipment contractor are working to determine what the cause of the problem is. Demoney said a representative from the contractor, Election Systems and Software, may end up flying to Park County from Cheyenne this afternoon to resolve the issue.
Finally, Clerk Torczon expressed concern that absentee ballot-counting may go late tonight. That could be particularly significant if races are close. Counting the last absentee ballots slowed things down considerably in the primary election.
The Tribune will provide further updates here if needed and will start live coverage of the election at 7:30 p.m. over at blog.powelltribune.com.