Sen. Blanche Lincoln suffered what might be one of the all-time greatest campaign staff fails this morning. According to her campaign staff, Lincoln was initially turned away when she tried to vote at her home her polling place this morning after elections officials discovered she had already requested an absentee ballot be sent to her Virginia home. Poll workers told Lincoln their records showed she had already voted.
“She just wanted to be prepared,” campaign spokesperson Katie Laning Niebaum told me a few minutes ago. “She has requested absentee ballots on many past occasions.”
Lincoln didn’t fill out the absentee ballot this time, her staff no doubt eager for the classic casting-the-ballot photo op this morning. But, thanks to this mix-up, she’s stuck with the less appealing “filling out the provisional ballot so elections officials can determine if her vote is legal or not” shot instead.
A state elections official told me that Lincoln’s ballot will be counted tonight — assuming she passes the provisional review — but not until after all the absentee and early voting ballots have been counted. That means Lincoln’s own ballot might not count in the official total until well after the race has been called.
It’s not exactly the ideal circumstance any candidate. But for Lincoln, the gaffe may be doubly painful. Supporters of her opponent in the Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, have attacked her for the Virginia house where the ballot was sent. They say the $2 million home Lincoln shares with her husband in the D.C. suburbs shows her commitment to Arkansas is, in the words of one blogger, “skin-deep.”
Should tonight’s primary go to a run-off, you can expect Halter’s supporters to use this morning’s voting snafu to talk about how much time Lincoln spends living outside of her home state.
(H/T to CNN’s Dana Bash, who first reported Lincoln’s vote fail via twitter.)
Late Update: Laning Niebaum, Lincoln’s campaign spokesperson, emails this official statement on this morning’s voting mix-up:
“Sen. Lincoln requested an absentee ballot in the event she would be called to Washington for critical votes. Pulaski County Court Clerk Pat O’Brien confirms this is not uncommon among voters who are unsure of their status on Election Day. Senator Lincoln and her husband are happy to cast provisional ballots in person at their home precinct today.”