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State says damp ballots in Madison County were result of not following ‘best practices’

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama Secretary of State's office says damp ballots that caused election day issues in Madison County were not stored in accordance with best practices.

Ballots that were ready for the 2018 general election sat in trailers in parking lots at the Madison County Sheriff's Office as heavy rainstorms moved through the area Monday night, according to the Secretary of State's office.

"These actions did not follow best practices in ballot security and election administration," Secretary of State John Merrill's office said in an email Thursday afternoon.

Many voters complained about damp ballots being too thick to feed through machines on election day, leading to concerns they would not be counted. Those ballots were stored and counted later after they had dried out and swelling had gone down enough for them to be fed through tabulation machines, Merrill's office said. Once they were fed through, officials said the machines did read them accurately.

Theย  ballots were delivered from the printing vendor to Madison County in early October, according to state officials. County employees loaded the ballots onto trailers Thursday, Nov. 1, until they were delivered to polling locations on Monday, Nov. 5, they said.

Madison County Probate Judge Tommy Ragland, who's retiring this year, said on election day that his office had received reports of problems at a number of locations and that ballots had swollen due to moisture in the air.