Voting machines all over Utah County malfunctioned Tuesday morning.
Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson said the machines at all the voting locations in the county could not start Tuesday morning due to a programming error with the voter cards.
"All of them had problems at 7 a.m.," he said.
Thompson said there were issues with the handheld encoders for the cards, so the voting locations had to go to a "Plan B."
Thompson said at each location, one voting machine was converted into an encoder in order to get the voter cards out. A lot of the machines were up and running by about 7:15 a.m., and most should have been in use by 7:30 a.m., he said.
The IT department was able to solve the problem and get the handheld devices back in use between 8:30 a.m. and noon around the county, but Thompson said there were still delays. The initial delay caused by the malfunctioning devices had lingering effects throughout the morning.
In some locations, the wait was longer because of issues with the handheld devices, a lengthy ballot and high voter turnout. Thompson said the turnout around midday was looking like 50 percent, and locations like Orchard and Canyon Crest elementary schools and Centennial Middle School had higher turnout than others. He said polling locations in the Edgemont area of Provo were seeing about a 60 percent voter turnout.
Thompson said preliminary surveys of polling locations show between 400 and 500 emergency ballots were handed out while the machines were not working, with the busiest locations handing out 25 to 30 of the ballots. He said he did not know if anyone gave up on voting because of the delay, but he did get a call from someone notifying him of a problem and saying they would return later in the day to vote.
Voting delays varied by location, and Thompson said officials were still waiting to hear how long people had to wait.
"I think we probably saw waits of 15 to 40 minutes," he said.
While some locations had about 30 minute delays for much of the day, Thompson said he did not consider that a bad wait time. He said people wait longer to buy tickets for concerts or movies.
Thompson said there was a similar problem with voting machines a few years ago. He said this is a similar problem with a different root cause, but it is thought to just be a programming error.
Voters at Cherry Hill and Orchard elementary schools were reportedly filling out provisional ballots instead of using the machines or being told to return later.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she has received text messages from three people about voting issues at Cherry Hill Elementary School. She said the first message came in at about 7:15 a.m. saying there were 50 people in line and the machines were broken.
Dayton said she usually votes at Cherry Hill, but she voted early this year and is glad she did. She said it is important for people to be able to vote on election day.
"Anytime the people cannot vote, it's a concern," she said.