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UPDATE: Problems setting up equipment delay polling sites
November 8, 2005
BY Edd Pritchard    Canton REPOSITORY

Some voters ran into problems when they arrived at the polls early today, as poll workers ran into delays setting up new electronic voting equipment.

Assorted precincts opened late for a variety of reasons, said Jeffrey Matthews, director of the Stark County Board of Elections. In past elections, one polling site might encounter a problem and open late, he said.

Matthews and his staff anticipated problems because of new equipment, but things were worse today than expected.

?It?s a people problem, not a machine problem.?

Poll workers were asked to arrive at polling sites by 5:30 a.m., instead of 6 a.m. as in past years. But some arrived late and found voters waiting for them, Matthews said.

Some poll workers panicked when it came time to assemble the machines in front of waiting voters, and machines didn?t work properly, he said.

There also were poll workers who failed to offer voters paper ballots when the machines weren?t working, Matthews said.

?That?s stressed in their training. For some reason they didn?t take advantage of it,? he said.

Operations were normal by mid-morning. The elections board had 42 workers ? some from Diebold and some from the board staff ? running routes to polling stations. Those workers made certain machines were assembled correctly.

?There?s going to be a lot of lessons learned from this election,? Matthews said, noting the elections board staff will be reviewing today?s events during the coming weeks.

The board had 1,500 people scheduled to work at polling stations. The county has 364 precincts, and 209 voting sites.

Matthews said he could use more workers, especially people who won?t be intimidated by the new technology.

Changes will have to be made before next year?s elections, he said.

?This is not the way it?s supposed to work,? Matthews said. ?It?s not the way we?ve traditionally operated and it can?t be tolerated.?

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