Election Day in Kennebec County produced high voter turnout, some lengthy wait times and a few glitches and issues with ballot scanning machines.

The biggest problem happened in Augusta’s Ward 2. Clerk Roberta Fogg said Augusta City Center’s sole electronic ballot scanning machine malfunctioned about 4 p.m. She said the machine would scan and count a ballot but then would show an error message saying the machine was jammed.

After several hours, a technician finally arrived but was unable to fix the machine, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.

Bridgeo said after consulting with the secretary of state’s office, Augusta officials put all the ballots that weren’t counted by the malfunctioning machine into a locked box, and they were counted later. Fogg, in her first election as Augusta clerk, reportedly still was counting ballots with staff as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Some preliminarily reported Augusta voting results later proved to be inaccurate in one race, for school board, though the updated numbers provided later did not change the race outcome.

Bridgeo said part of the flaws could be blamed on some city election workers having worked a 24-hour day.

In Readfield, the problem with the ballot scanning machine wasn’t as bad.

Clerk Robin Lint said her town’s machine malfunctioned when attempting to scan the first ballot of the day, resulting in a delay of about 15 to 20 minutes.

After turning the machine off and then back off, Lint said, “it did great and we all survived.”

Voter turnout was high in most, if not all, Kennebec County municipalities, including Augusta, Gardiner, Readfield and Fayette.

Lisa Gilliam, Gardiner’s clerk, said the higher-than-expected turnout, at least in Gardiner, caused some delays.

“There was definitely waiting, and I don’t think anybody anticipated the turnover, which led to some of the long lines,” Gilliam said. “Our machines worked fine, but I do think that the number of voters made it a slow process.”

Throughout the morning, Gilliam said, wait times at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Gardiner averaged about 20 minutes, but that number climbed closer to 45 minutes as the day progressed and more and more voters came to the polls, especially in the evening. When the polls closed at 8 p.m., a dozen people were still in line, Gilliam said.

“We had 70 percent turnout, which I think is probably historic for Gardiner,” she said. Gilliam has been a clerk for 22 years ā€” in Winthrop and Chelsea before Gardiner ā€” and said this was the highest turnout of her career.

Results were slow to be reported in part because of the special election for probate judge involving candidates Elizabeth Mitchell, Skip Spurling and Kevin Sullivan. There wasn’t enough time to get the ballots formatted and printed, so each municipality had to count the ballots by hand.

“The hand-counting slowed everything down,” Gilliam said. “It took us into the night.”

She said she left Gardiner’s polling place about 3:30 in the morning and left her office at Gardiner City Hall by around 5 a.m. She was back at her desk around 11 a.m. after a couple of hours of sleep.

“We’ve very happy that this one is in the books, and we’re pleased with the turnout, because people should want to come to vote every time,” Gilliam said. “We are grateful it’s over.”

Jason Pafundi ā€” 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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