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Voting problems: Count every vote, but not by hand (CT)
The News-Times, May 30, 2008

Problems with New Milford's budget referendum last week are a cause for concern on a much bigger voting process the presidential election in November.

The new optical scanning machine at the town's Lanesville district malfunctioned, which necessitated the hand counting of all 426 votes there.

While that delayed results about an hour, circumstances could be much worse when more people are voting for a president, plus other federal and state offices, in the fall.

It is curious that a memory card for a relatively new machine malfunctioned.

It is disturbing that a morning call to the Secretary of the State's office didn't get a response until 2 in the afternoon.

It is alarming that the nearest replacement card was in Boston three hours away.

New machines should work, but problems should be anticipated and contingencies made.

In a second voting district, Gaylordsville, another machine encountered a glitch when the tabulator wouldn't accept ballots.

Alert poll workers tried the logical fix of a sophisticated machine they turned it off and rebooted. It worked.

When two out of seven districts run into equipment problems, it can make one long to a return of the good old lever machine. Except, of course, those machines aren't made anymore and were replaced statewide last year.

Lanesville district poll workers did get permission from the state to start hand-counting ballots at 4 p.m., before polls closed.

As it was, only 18.8 percent of the town's eligible voters went to the polls last Tuesday.

But the glitches in New Milford should be a warning to state election officials to come up with a more acceptable backup plan for all 169 towns.

We don't want to see Connecticut become another Florida in the next presidential election.


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