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Few problems reported with touch-screens
By Pete Bosak and Mike Joseph - Centre Daily Times

BELLEFONTE Officials said voting was going well across the county Tuesday, even though a computer glitch kept voting machines silent for nearly two hours in one precinct and human error caused several other polling places to open about 15 minutes late.

"Considering this is the second full run, I think things went great," Centre County Board of Commissioners Chairman Chris Exarchos said of the county's computerized voting machines.

Voters at Foxdale Village had to use emergency paper ballots until about 9 a.m., when technicians were able to correct a computer glitch that rendered every voting machine there useless, said Centre County Elections Director Joyce McKinley.

While the machines were down, 35 to 40 paper ballots were cast, she said.

"There were emergency ballots in use, so no one was turned away," Exarchos said.

Polls opened about 15 minutes late at several other sites due to human error, mostly poll workers not arriving early enough to get voting machines up and running, county officials said. One of them was at the HUB-Robeson Center on the Penn State campus but, with students gone, it had little effect, McKinley said.

The calibration of a touch-screen voting machine in a State College precinct was checked and found to be working properly after a voter had difficulty, McKinley said.

She said a few other calibration issues came up but did not disrupt voting. "I think we had a couple of them, but it wasn't a major thing," she said.

She said calibration errors a misalignment of screen icon and embedded electronic contact point can occur on the voting machines if they are jostled too much during transport.

A fingernail, if it is long, also can interfere with voting intentions, McKinley said. A long fingernail can make unexpected contact with an untargeted candidate's name before the full pressure of the finger itself comes to bear on the intended vote recipient, she said.

The machines give voters the opportunity to check and correct their votes before casting their ballots.

John Ziegler, judge of elections in the College South precinct, said early Tuesday afternoon that the touch-screen voting machines hadn't caused any problems, but the precinct has many retirees and older voters who aren't comfortable with the machines.

"There's still a lot of people who just don't know how to use these things," Ziegler said.

The voting machines often get compared to automated sandwich ordering machines, Ziegler said, but that doesn't mean they're easy for everyone.

"Maybe in another generation," he added.

Anne Danahy contributed to this report.

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