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Electronic voting machines causing problems in Williamson County
They may not be available by Election Day

By Lisa Ogle
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, November 04, 2006

GEORGETOWN An electronic ballot may not be an option for Williamson County voters on Tuesday.

A public test of the voting machines' Election Day software, which is required by state law, failed Friday. When a straight-party vote was cast, the screen did not show that a candidate was ed for Precinct 3 commissioner, Elections Administrator Debra Stacy said.

In that race, Republican Valerie Covey is running against Democrat Randall Craig to fill the unexpired term of Tom McDaniel, who died in February. The same problem occurred at the beginning of early voting, but it was corrected and no votes were affected, Stacy said.

This morning, representatives of Elections Systems & Software are expected to install new software in an effort to correct the glitch, Stacy said. Candidates and party members will be contacted before another test is run on Saturday, she said.

"I feel confident that Debra Stacy and the software company are going to get the issue resolved before the election," Covey said. "I know all the candidates want an accurate count, and that's the top priority."

If necessary, the county may decide not to use the machines Tuesday, Stacy said. During early voting, 14 machines were used. Stacy said the total number of voters who used the machines won't be available until Tuesday evening. Should they be approved for use, 81 machines would be used on Election Day, one for each voting location.

Some attendees of Friday's test raised questions about whether Williamson County should continue working with Elections Systems & Software.

"We'll review the vendor after this election and go from there," Stacy said.

In Travis County, voters trying to cast their ballots Friday on the last day of early voting found long lines and sometimes had to wait an hour or more.

Mary Fero, spokeswoman with the election division of the Travis County Clerk's office, said the long lines were due to to a number of factors, including changes in state law that shortened the early voting period by two days and a longer ballot caused by the introduction of more uniform election dates.

Fero said the last few days of early voting see the largest turnout and she said Friday appeared to follow that trend.

"By mid-afternoon, we had already surpassed (Thursday's) vote totals," Fero said. "It's going to be a big day."

Williamson County also saw a rise in turnout through Friday, election officials said.

logle@statesman.com; 246-1150. Staff writer A.J. Bauer contributed to this report.



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