Few problems with new voting machines with video
BY GRETCHEN M. WINTERMANTEL AND MEGAN REITER The Scranton Times-Tribune
An Election Day with record Democratic turnout saw few problems in Lackawanna and Wayne counties. Both counties used the new Election Systems & Software optical-scan system Tuesday.
Election Systems & Software’s optical-scan system worked well, Lackawanna County spokeswoman Lynne Shedlock said. There were, however, a few minor issues.
The AutoMark touch-screen machines provided for handicapped voters malfunctioned in at least seven precincts, Mrs. Shedlock said.
Those problems were easily fixed when election workers cleaned and reset the inkjet cartridges in each machine.
One Scott Township disabled voter simply voted with assistance rather than waiting, she said.
At least one North Scranton precinct had a problem with its optical scanner after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
The internal part that was supposed to separate write-in ballots did not do so and had to be separated by hand, Mrs. Shedlock said.
The votes were not affected because they had already been scanned, she added.
Voters seemed to have few problems with voting on paper ballots, and poll workers and election judges were generally pleased with how easy the process was.
The optical scanners automatically rejected ballots on which too many votes were cast in one race.
“It’s also nice that it has a paper trail,” said Michael Ruddy, judge of election at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Adams Avenue.
When a judge of election failed to show up in a Scranton precinct Tuesday morning, the minority inspector stepped in and served as judge.
Mrs. Shedlock said a few precincts reported problems getting the ballots to feed into the scanner properly when the polls first opened.
However, that problem was quickly resolved by maneuvering a part of the scanner, she said.
As of 10:30 p.m., Wayne County had results for about half of its 37 precincts.
“It was real guesswork on our part to try to determine how long we’d be here,” said Bureau of Elections Chairman Wendall Kay.
The county actually programmed the two central counters to pause at every ballot with a write-in or overvote.
“We want to get it right,” Mr. Kay said. “We want it to be secure, and we want to make sure everyone’s vote counts.”
Workers were slowed down temporarily when two precincts turned in ballots with the stubs still attached.
Workers had to detach the stubs before feeding the ballots through the machines, but Mr. Kay said that had no bearing on the accuracy of the votes.
“Overall, we’re very pleased at how things have gone today,” Mr. Kay said.
The county took one petition up to Senior Judge Robert Conway, Mr. Kay said. The petition was for an emergency absentee ballot, which the judge granted, he said.