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January 9, 2008

Ballot shortages at some polling places

SALEM, N.H. -- Some local towns say they are running low on Democratic ballots due to the high turnout in today's New Hampshire primary.

Salem Town Clerk Barbara Lessard said several of Salem's polling places ran out of Democratic ballots at various times during the day, forcing them to use absentee and photocopied ballots. That could prove to be a problem tonight, she said, as those ballots must be counted by hand since the machines won't read them.

Rumors started to surface around middday that some towns, including Nashua, Pelham and Londonderry, were running out of ballots. Londonderry wound up having enough, while Pelham was expected to run out around 6:30 tonight.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said many towns were reporting that they were low on ballots today, but Salem was the first one he had heard of that had actually run out.

"It could be that Salem still has the ballots, it's just how they've been distributed," he said. "We are getting calls from towns now that the polls are ready to close that they are right down to the wire. But up until this point, we have had no reports of towns running out of ballots."

Scanlan said the fact that some towns had to use absentee or copied ballots that can't be read by the voting machines could delay tonight's results somewhat, but he doesn't think it will have a major impact.

"We're talking about a ballot that has two offices on it -- president and vice president -- so it should be fairly easy to count," he said, "and we don't expect there are going to be that many."

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