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Disabled Voters Disappointed with Touch-screen Problems

WISH-TV      Nov 10, 2006 03:52 PM

Marion County got approval Friday to get the votes out of 520 touch-screen machines used by disabled voters. When the polls closed at 6 p.m., poll workers were unable to get the votes out. That is because the voting machine maker, ES&S, had programmed the machines for Pennsylvania's polls, which were open from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Disabled voters are worried their votes will not count.

While Marion County election board employees were canvassing votes from optical-scan machines, the three election board members had an announcement.

"All votes, whether cast on the M-100 optical-scanner or the iVotronic system, should be counted," said Doris Anne Sadler, Marion County Clerk.

Votes from all but 14 optical-scan machines have been counted. But it's the votes from 520 touch-screen machines that remain uncounted. They were used for the first time this election by voters like Daniel and Diane Pitmon.

"The machine, it makes it easier for anyone with a disability to be able to vote anonymously," Daniel said.

Daniel is blind. His wife, Diane, has limited use of her hands. Tuesday, they voted for the first time without someone else's assistance.

"Freedom. It felt like I had actual freedom," Daniel said.

But that feeling was fleeting. When the polls closed, poll workers couldn't get the votes out of the machines. Three days later, the votes still were not counted.

"It feels like I really don't exist. That's how I feel. That people with disabilities are out in the cold," Diane said.

"It didn't make me feel like my vote mattered or that I matter," Daniel said.

The election board sought permission from the state's recount commission to count those votes. After 45 minutes of testimony and questions, the state gave the go-ahead.

"We have committed and we all agree that those votes will be counted," Sadler said.

Candidates have not filed recounts or contests with the state, just yet. They will not be able to do that until all of the votes are counted.

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