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At the polls: 'So much better than in May'  (IN)

Rob Schneider   Indianapolis Star    07 November 2007

Machine issues rather than people problems popped up on Election Day, but none of them prevented people from voting, Marion County election officials said Tuesday.
Shortly after the polls opened at 6 a.m., about 83 of the 486 polling places reported problems with their touch-screen voting machines, said Marion County Clerk Beth White, who also serves as secretary of the Marion County Election Board.

At first, officials blamed the problems on batteries that weren't properly charged before the machines were sent to voting locations.

Later, they discovered a second problem. In some touch-screen machines, a disk that records votes was inserted upside down at the warehouse, which prevented the machines from working. All of the machines were operating before 4 p.m.

The problems did not keep people from voting. "No one was turned away," White said. Instead, paper ballots were used, and when the machines were up and running, the ballots were to be counted.
The issues with machines led the Marion County Republican Party to issue a blistering press release titled "Beth White Fails Election Day."

"Beth White has let us down once again," Marion County Republican Chairman Tom John said in a prepared statement. "How can you forget to charge the batteries?"

"I don't begrudge Tom John for beating me about that," White said. "We are sorry that happened.

"I understand this is frustrating," she added.

Overall, White said Tuesday's voting was "so much better than in May." During the primary election, many precincts opened late, and five didn't open at all after inspectors failed to show up.

The clerk spent the summer working on a plan to avoid similar problems during the general election.

The day opened with election officials sending substitute inspectors to three precincts, although it turned out that the delay at one precinct came because poll workers couldn't get into the polling site before 6 a.m.

White said all of the polls were open and taking votes by 7 a.m.

"Three is three too many," John said earlier in the day. "But when you compare it to May, it's an amazing result, frankly."

Voters living along the east side of Delaware Street between 30th and 96th streets found their names missing from poll books at their precincts.

The issue didn't involve White or the Election Board, but the Marion County Board of Voter Registration. The problem affected 483 voters, said John and his counterpart, Marion County Democratic Chairman Michael O'Connor.

"As I understand it, it was a data input error that put everyone one on the east side of the street in the wrong precinct," O'Connor said.

Precincts were alerted to the problem, and the two parties agreed that voters should go to their normal precincts and they would be allowed to vote under a provision called a certificate of error.

John agreed that the mistake was an inconvenience, "but hopefully they can make it out and vote today."

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