Barnstable Delays Primary Voting After Ballots Were Left Locked In Vault

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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A town on Cape Cod fell into a nightmare scenario when it came time to begin voting on Primary Election Day on Tuesday. Barnstable's polls had a delayed opening after workers were unable to reach the thousands of stored ballots, which were locked behind a vault door in the basement of Town Hall.

Though polls were scheduled to open at 7 a.m. on Election Day, it wasn't until just before noon that Barnstable polls opened with paper ballots. State Secretary Bill Galvin has obtained a court order extending polling hours in Barnstable until midnight to make sure all residents had the opportunity to vote.

Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk explained the situation later Tuesday morning, after voting was set to begin. She said the Department of Public Works had to step in and assist to try and reach a resolution.

"[Tuesday] morning at 4:15— we could not get the vault open. We tried several times, we hadn't had this problem over the weekend because we were all in here working. We have people in the DPW that are locksmiths and they tried," Quirk said.

Read More: Massachusetts' Primary Day Is Today. Here's What You Need To Know.

To supplement the missing ballots, Barnstable scrambled to print out and deliver emergency paper ballots to the thirteen precincts across town. The substitute ballots were identical to the machine-readable ballots, but require hand-counting by the end of the voting day.

"We've had some made up— we're having more made up, we're going to get those out to the precincts as quickly as we can," Quirk said. The Town Clerk went on to say that because of the mishap, she expected Town workers would be up late counting the votes.

WBZ's Tim Dunn (@ConsiderMeDunn) reports.

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