DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Some people wanting to vote in Delray Beach on Tuesday were met with an apology instead of a ballot.
At least five precincts failed to open at 7 a.m. as scheduled when poll workers failed to show up over fears of the coronavirus.
Some are voting in the Democratic presidential primary, and in Delray Beach, most are voting for two city commissioners among seven candidates.
But when voters arrived at the Orchard View Elementary School, poll workers at one of the two precincts here had to turn them away.
"Unfortunately, someone didn’t come this morning with all the equipment," a poll worker told voter Jose Gomez.
A few miles away at the South County Civic Center, the voting booths inside sat empty for nine hours because a clerk failed to bring the important equipment.
Outside, veteran poll worker Don Broverman approached a group of arriving voters and told them the bad news.
"We cannot take your ballot," said Broverman.
“What?” exclaimed one of those who came to vote.
After WPTV Contact Five5 drove around Delray Beach, we learned at least three other polling places in the city opened two to four hours late, as poll workers claimed a fear of coronavirus kept those who should've been bringing and setting up equipment home.
The campaign manager for incumbent Delray Beach City Commissioner Shirley Johnson wondered if those turned away were voting for Johnson.
"How can it be fair if people have jobs and they show up, and not everyone has the luxury coming back later?" asked Nancy Chanin.
After we asked Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link about those turned away at precincts, she hoped they were sent to her satellite office in Delray Beach.
"We’ve also been recommending that if somebody did go to work, that they come back by our office," said Link. "As long as they’re in our offices by seven."
One who did make the trip to the satellite office was Pam Edwards, who was turned away at the South County Civic Center.
"It is my right," said Edwards. "So I just want to make sure I can vote."
"I’m not going to vote," said Jose Gomez, who wanted to cast a ballot at Orchard View Elementary School, which did not have all the necessary voting equipment.
Gomez said coronavirus fears are no excuse to the voting snafus.
"This virus situation has been around a couple of weeks. They’ve had time to foresee these inconveniences," Gomez said.
By the end of the day, all voting precincts in Delray Beach were open, though the one at the South County Civic Center did not take in voters until 4 p.m., nine hours after the polls were scheduled to open.