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Machine fails to tally vote in precinct

Faulty voting machine keeps Spotsylvania election officials up late

11/10/2005   Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star


By about 10 p.m. Tuesday night, all but one of the Spotsylvania County precincts had reported their results to the voter registration office.

The numbers from the Wilderness voting booths in the Chancellor District didn't come in until about 1 a.m. because the ballot-counting machine there was not working properly.

And some of the votes had to be counted by hand.

Spotsylvania voters mark a paper ballot that is then fed into a machine. A faulty memory pack on the system at Wilderness was rejecting ballots with even the slightest fray or fold in the paper, said Shirley Boggs, Spotsylvania's registrar.

"Since the race was so close we just wanted to make sure the count was accurate," she said

Boggs said this year was one of the latest election nights she can remember since the days when everything was counted by hand. She and her staff were not able to leave the office until about 3 a.m.

"This was an exception," she said. "It's one of those things that happens, and we dealt with it and took care of the problem."

Tuesday night's malfunction was the first for the voting machines that were installed starting in 2000, she said.

She said the county's electoral board will look at this issue in the coming months and consider how to prevent the problem in future elections.

Final results from Wilderness on the county bond questions were:

Question 1 (Public Safety): yes, 441; no, 228.

Question 2 (Library & Parks): yes, 332; no, 334.

Question 3 (Transportation): yes, 388; no, 281.

Question 4 (Schools): yes, 439; no, 231.

Total voter turnout in Spotsylvania was between 35 and 37 percent, Boggs said. But she was pleased with how the day went, overall.

"It went well," she said. "The turnout was not tremendous. But for our area and all it was pretty much in line with the rest of the state."

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