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Officials say elections going smoothly, despite minor problems
Sun Herald, HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press   07 November 2006

JACKSON, Miss. - Officials said Tuesday's midterm elections were going "remarkably well" in Mississippi, despite minor problems reported in some precincts.

Most of the problems were blamed on human error.

In Jackson, machines at one precinct offered voters the chance to cast a ballot on the wrong congressional race. It listed the race featuring incumbent Republican Rep. Chip Pickering instead of incumbent Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, Hinds County election commissioner Connie Cochran said.

Cochran said the wrong "location card" was used in the machine, but the problem was corrected almost immediately. She said voters had been offered paper ballots until the problem was fixed. She also said a school board race was left off the machines and voters were offered paper ballots for that race.

David Blount, a spokesman for Secretary of State Eric Clark, said Hinds County is one of the few districts in Mississippi not using new voting machines. Most counties - 77 out of 82 - are using new machines that were purchased by the state to be in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, which was enacted after the 2000 presidential election. The law requires states to purchase voting machines that meet federal standards, but Hinds and a handful of other counties chose to use the machines they already had.

"This is not really a machine issue," Blount said. "Assigning a voter to the proper district and having the proper races is up to the county officials."

Voters at some precincts in south Mississippi were given paper ballots because new machines did not work when the polls opened at 7 a.m., Harrison County election worker Mary Alexander said.

"They were having a problem putting the canisters on or some of them were setting the machines up backward," Alexander said. "I'm not sure it was problems with the machines themselves, I think it was human error."

Blount said the problems in Harrison County were fixed by early morning.

Clark said he was pleased with the way things were going.

"The calls that we've gotten are no worse than the problems we get with every statewide election. It is a typical voting day in Mississippi," Clark said. "We've got more than 2,000 precincts and more than 10,000 poll workers on the ground out there today. It is going remarkably smoothly and I am very, very happy with the progress our state has made in complying with the Help America Vote Act"


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