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Bugs surface in new vote machines
Tally-card mistakes at 8 sites delayed results
By Amanda Iacone
The Journal Gazette   10 May 2007

Problems at Allen County polls were few Tuesday, but election workers ran into glitches tallying votes from new machines after the polls closed, delaying efforts to determine final numbers.

Poll workers in some locations had used the wrong tally cards to read voting machines.

Although election workers realized the mistake, they had to return to about eight polling sites throughout Fort Wayne and find people to unlock those buildings so they could obtain information from voting machines, election director Pam Finlayson said Wednesday.

Last November, election workers experienced similar problems at two or three polling sites.

But most polling places had only one of the new voting machines then. On Tuesday, only the new equipment was used, Finlayson said.

She said she’s already working on contingency plans to pre-empt similar problems in the November general election.

Some issues could be addressed during training sessions, she said, and it’s possible the tally cards should be labeled better.

She called Tuesday’s night’s problems a “user issue.”

The problems put elections staff behind by only an hour. They finished about 11 p.m. – their goal was to finish by 10 p.m., Finlayson said.

Counting votes in the fall should go faster because Finlayson hopes to buy additional equipment allowing workers to obtain data faster. Election staff also would have more time to resolve problems like those experienced Tuesday, she said.

Election board member and Allen County Clerk Therese Brown said the board might need to revamp the hour-long training session poll workers are required to attend before each election.

She said the training should be more hands-on and include role-playing. Currently, the training consists mostly of a PowerPoint presentation and an explanation of how to operate the machines.

In general, most workers are used to the old voting machines and are now learning to use the new machines plus changes in election law, Brown said.

“Mechanically there’s only so much you can do,” she said of Tuesday night’s delays. “I think we did the best we could with that.”

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