Election officials see waves of blank ballots

Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 6:42 PM CDT
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Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson has been on the job for decades and has seen it all.

But she's never seen a barrage of blank ballots like she saw Tuesday night.

“We always have a handful of ballots that are completely blank which means somebody took the effort to go to the polling place, check–in, wait in line get a ballot, go to the voting booth and then make no marks on their ballot,” said Pearson.

But that's in normal years.

On Tuesday, election officials saw waves of blank ballots.

“We had a huge number in comparison yesterday,” she said. “We had 40 on one machine and 20 on another scanner. And we don't know why. We had it on both sides -- Republicans and Democrats – but most were just the Democrat ballots that just had the presidential race on it and didn't have a house or senate or school board race.”

Pearson didn't want to venture a guess on why people chose not to choose a candidate but it may not be coincidence that the candidates on the top of each major party ticket have the highest negative ratings in history.

“There's a lot of people that were obviously discouraged with the candidates at this point,” Pearson said.

Party officials acknowledge they have some work to do.

“I know I've never been around an election where there's this much negative against those two that are running the top the Democratic and Republican side,” said Ben Treadwell, the chair of the Pennington County Republican Party. “I'm hoping that we as Republicans can pull together. We're going to have to.”

District 33 Democratic candidate for State Senate Haven Stuck says he hopes Hillary Clinton “will come up with some ideas that that people will be a little more satisfied with. … I know people of been frustrated.”

And it wasn't just blank ballots. Some had messages scrawled on them like “None of the above” or “They’re all bad.”

Pearson told KOTA Territory News that there was no profanity but there was one that, she said, "we just can't repeat on TV."