Why did Kuna run out of ballots on election night?

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - While looking into why three Kuna precincts ran out of ballots, KBOI also discovered how elections workers try to estimate the right number of ballots and why being wrong can be very costly.

Some voters who couldn't vote because of the ballot shortage left the polling places while others stuck around until new ballots arrived.

Ada County Clerk Chris Rich said they have to use an educated guess on how many ballots they will need printed. They use past elections and issues to help make a decision. Although Rich thinks he knows why their numbers were off.

"It was really driven by the Kuna School Levy that was going on," said Rich. "We didn't anticipate (them having) a 43 percent turnout over there. Which is a phenomenal number to have. We were anticipating 25. We were ready for 30."

Elections workers were eventually able to print off more ballots and get them to the three locations.

Rich notes that printing too many ballots also isn't the answer. That's because each ballot sheet costs 32 cents to print, and if there is a second sheet it's 64 cents per vote.

While that may not seem like a lot, Ada County spent over $184,000 on unused ballots from 2008 to 2010. They've tried to cut back on that by having a printer that gives ballots on demand for early voting.

Rich notes that it would be too expensive to put two of those printers at all 145 precincts in the county, although in the future they hope to at least have four stations with the printers so they can quickly get ballots out to the polls that are running out.