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Jefferson Co. election officials may consider voting machines after chaotic night of counting ballots

Voting machines for Jefferson County?

RIGBY, Idaho - Jefferson County election officials had quite the chaotic night of counting. Ballot counting started at Rigby City Hall after polls closed around 8 p.m., but officials soon realized they needed extra help, so they moved counting to the Jefferson County Courthouse.

"We had four here on staff, and then we had a great county and we called four more people to come in. We had to scurry just a little bit," said Christine Boulter, the Jefferson County clerk.

Officials say voter turnout was higher than they expected this year, and that's one of the reasons they had to call for backup. Another reason was the fact that names on each ballot didn't always appear in the same order.

"When you have an election, it's the state statute that we have to rotate the names. The names are never consistent on the ballots," Boulter said.

So why not speed things up with electronic voting machines? They're fast, but election officials say they're also costly: it costs about $1 to count each ballot.

"You would have better than 1,000 (dollars) in there just to run the machine and the paper, and we don't even come close to running $1,000 with a ream of paper and have them printed up. So, it's very cost-effective on small elections," Boulter said.

But this was admittedly a big election. Jefferson County Election Clerk Shonna Allred says they won't rule voting machines out for future elections.

"We could look into it," Allred said. "I think this is one of the, according to the city clerk in Rigby, they said this is one of the biggest elections they've ever had."

But for now, don't expect things to change anytime soon.

"I think we'll probably stay (with) paper unless we see some big significant change," Boulter said.

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