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As Election Day nears, Barnstable still waiting for repair of the vault that delayed the primary

Eve Zuckoff

The town clerk’s vault in Barnstable has yet to be fully repaired after the locking mechanism malfunctioned on the day of the September primary.

With the general election coming up Nov. 8, items normally stored in the vault are being kept in other town vaults, including the vital records vault upstairs, said Town Clerk Ann Quirk.

Stored items include boxes of old marked and unmarked ballots — which the state requires be retained for certain periods of time — and the 15 tabulation machines that accept ballots at the polling places.

“Very crowded, very crowded,” Quirk said of the storage situation. “But we can get through, you know? We can get through this.”

She said the locksmith who has been working on the vault is waiting for a part to arrive before the work can be completed.

“It has something to do with the arm,” she said. “I would say it's — I call it an arm. It's the lever on the outside that connects to the lever on the inside.”

To crack open the vault during the primary, the locksmith had to drill holes in the door to access an interior lever that is designed to free a person who gets locked inside the vault, she said.

One of the next big tasks for town clerks around the region is sending mail-in ballots to voters who have requested them. But the new ballots haven’t arrived yet from the secretary of state, Quirk said. They’re expected by Oct. 12.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.