Voting machine issue confusing to some (TN)
Rebecca Ferrar Knoxville News Sentinel 22 October 2008
Some early voters are confused by an anomaly in the voting machines.
It seems that, when someone votes for the presidential candidate, the summary page shows only the first three letters of the candidate’s first name.
In Democrat Barack Obama’s case, that would be “BAR.”
The confusion comes because another presidential candidate is Bob Barr, whose name on the summary page should show “BOB.” The summary page of all the ions comes up before the voter actually casts his or her vote.
For attorney and Democrat Jim Andrews and two others, confusion ensued when they went to vote on the voting machines at New Harvest Lane near Knoxville Center.
“I voted for Obama, my partner voted for Obama, and the other lady voted for Obama,” said Andrews, who ran against then-Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison in 2002.
Andrews said he and business partner Liza Jean Holt were both trying to vote for Obama but kept getting “BAR” on the summary page.
“The election official said, ‘That’s the way the machine is set up. You’re still voting for Obama.’ I don’t have any reason to think the machines are programmed very differently than anywhere else. Bob Barr may get a … lot of votes out of Knox County,” Andrews said.
The other woman, Peggy Mehllorn, a retired teacher, said of the election workers, “They kept insisting that they were right and I was wrong. It just makes me mad. It’s none of anybody’s business who you vote for. The people tried to explain to me ‘bar’ was for Obama. It was a little confusing to me. The lady before me was having the same problem.”
Greg Mackay, Knox County administrator of elections, said the machines print the first three letters of the first name. “It’s because of the electors,” he said. “It’s just on the president. It says ‘electors for’ on the summary page and the first three letters for the candidate of your choice.”
Mackay said he’s had some complaints — two or three a day since early voting began Oct. 15.
“It’s not really been a problem,” Mackay said. “It’s just taken time to explain it to people, and we’re going to instruct our workers about it, too. As soon as we found out about it, we showed the League of Women Voters and both (presidential) campaigns.