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Technical issues in Knox Co. election and larger turnout leads to delays in results Tuesday night, KCEC says

Voters, candidates and election officials reported heavy turnout and scattered equipment problems Tuesday at some Knox County precincts.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — By 10 p.m. Tuesday, voters in Knox County were still waiting for the results of the 2022 midterm elections. Usually, precincts start reporting around an hour after the polls close at 8 p.m.

Knox County Election Administrator Chris Davis said 8-10 of the county's 90+ precincts ran out of ballots on Tuesday, causing significant delays in those polling places. 

In some polling places, where each voter received the same ballot, election officials tore the pre-printed ballots out of a book. When officials ran out of those, they had to use emergency ballots, about 700 across the county, Davis said. 

In other polling places, where voters received different ballots, election officials printed a ballot for each person. Davis said some of the precincts didn't have enough printers, and election officials worked quickly to add more. 

Davis also said that there were technological problems, such as problems with scanners or some locations lacking an adequate number of printers. Lines were packed into some precincts in West Knoxville on Tuesday as well.

Davis said at some polling places, the number of voters on election day exceeded the number of voters at those polling places in 2020. Significantly more people voted early and absentee in 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A 10News analysis of the ballots cast in the 2020 and 2022 elections showed almost double the number of voters turned out in this election at Chilhowee Intermediate School and Shannondale Elementary School. 

Overall, about 17.5% more voters cast ballots on election day in 2022 over 2020. 

"We've exceeded November 2020 turnout in some precincts," he said.

The commission said it will meet after the results are submitted to discuss what they need to change moving forward.

Davis also emphasized that people need to stay in line to be able to vote on Election Day, regardless of the issues. To make sure voters cast a ballot, he also said they can vote early.

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