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Twiggs voters face problems at polls

Jason Hobbs   The Courier Herald (Georgia)
JEFFERSONVILLE - Twiggs County voters arrived at the polls today to find they could not cast their votes on the computerized voting machines.

The voting machines were down in all five precincts this morning because of an encoder problem from 7 a.m. until about 9 a.m., according to Twiggs Chief Registrar Linda Polk.

Polk said some voters did vote on paper ballots but the majority of the people who arrived at the polls did not vote at that time because the poll workers were not able to decided what to do. Polk said it was still to be decided at 9 a.m. if Twiggs County should seek a court order to keep the polls open later than the 7 p.m. closing time because of the problem. The Elections Board is to decide by noon whether to get that court order or not.

In Dry Branch, people were seen milling around not really knowing what to do. Poll workers seemed nervous because they didn?t know what the people were going to think or how to explain the situation.

There wasn?t a very long line but officials are expecting a record turnout as far as advance voting, absentee voting and voting at the polls today.

There have been no problems any of the candidates yet, but Elections Superintendent Marette Fair said she would expect that some of the candidates might have something to say about polls being closed, but so far that had not happened.

Also, Commissioner Donald Watson, who is running against Ray Bennett for County Commission filed a suit Friday alleging that Fair was not following the letter of the law by keeping him from being able to have a poll watcher in the elections office on election night.

Watson had written a letter to Fair requesting to have a poll watcher there on election night. Fair responded with a letter after she had talked with Linda Beasley in the Secretary of State?s office concerning election law. Fair wrote Watson a letter explaining to him that the elections office is not a polling place on election day, but that he could have an observer in the office. However, it would only be in the designated area for those people.

Watson then took the case to court, where State Court Judge Donald W. Gillis heard the case. The judge went to see the elections office and then went back to the court. He did not order the superintendent to do anything but asked that she allow Watson?s observer to stand at the end of the counter where the judge had stood and make sure he was able to see the computer that does the tabulating at all times.

Gillis said, ?I am not ordering this, I am only asking that you do this.?

Fair said the observer would be allowed to stand where the judge had suggested, but that he would have adhere to the regulations and restrictions.

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