Arapahoe County voting delays linked to unexpectedly large number of provisional ballots

Wait at CenterPointe Plaza peaked at about 2 hours

AURORA, Colo. - An unexpectedly large number of voters cast provisional ballots in Arapahoe County than expected, leading to big delays.

Arapahoe County said ten times more provisional voters cast ballots than expected. Those voters were handled by only two booths.

A provisional ballot is provided to someone whose eligibility to vote is unclear on Election Day. The voter casts a provisional ballot and, if election officials can confirm they're an eligible voter, their ballot will be counted.

Election officials will have to go through all of those ballots to verify the votes can be counted.

Hundreds of people waited in long, snaking lines at CentrePointe Plaza in Aurora, off Alameda, between Sable and Chambers. Some had arrived at 7 a.m.  and by 10 a.m., the wait was 2 hours long.

Some voters told 7NEWS that they had to leave without voting because they had to get to work.

By 4 p.m. the wait was so long, the election judges were encouraging voters to go to other polling locations -- Aurora Hills Middle School, Faith Presbyterian Church and Aurora Professional Learning and Conference Center.

Poll workers were even handing out snacks and water to those who were determined to stay at CentrePointe.

MyReporter Demetria Burgess sent 7NEWS a photo of dozens of people waiting in line in a parking lot at Mracheck Middle School in Aurora. Fortunately, Burgess said she had a good experience and was in and out.

MyReporter Treene O'Neill Melendez said she waited 1 hour 45 minutes at New Life Church in Aurora. She said only one person was processing provisional ballots and it was taking up to 20 minutes per person.

Melendez said some voters were walking out because they were tired of the wait.

Stacia Martin said she went to an Arapahoe County voting center at Belleview and Federal and it was very unorganized.

"Got there at 7:30 a.m. and it took an hour," said Martin.

Arapahoe County Clerk Nancy Doty said typically lines are longer first thing in the morning.

"And that's what we've experienced today," said Doty. "I expect these people to be processed, you know, within the next hour, hour and a half, two hours and then our lines will diminish and it shouldn't be that long of a wait."

However, when the wait extended through midday, she said the problem was the long process to check in.

 "I think the line problem, or the issue is, people checking in to vote. It's not the voting machines," Doty said.

Arapahoe County told 7NEWS last week that voters would only wait 20 minutes after they checked in.