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Problems Plague Early Voting System   (TN)

WSMV Naswhville    25 October 2008

NASHVILLE More than 126,000 people voted early in Davidson County, which tops the early voting totals that broke records in 2004.

However, despite the record numbers, a growing concern has been raised that some of the machines are malfunctioning and counting the vote for the wrong candidate.

Channel 4's Deanna Lambert reported that a couple of early voters said they were left with doubts after casting their ballots.

"I first hit the Obama button, and when I touched the screen, nothing happened nothing lit up," early voter Patricia Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt said she tried several more times with no results, so she said she called over a poll worker to help her.

"He touched it for me, saw who I was voting for, and touched it a couple of times, and still nothing happened. Finally, on about his third touch, the Cynthia McKinney button lit up, which was about five spaces down," she said.

Earnhardt said she immediately reported her problem to the Davidson County Election Commission.

"The machine probably got out of calibration. Our technicians calibrate every day," Metro Election Commission spokesman Ray Barrett said.

Paul Ramsour said he also encountered a problem while early voting, but he said his problem was with a poll worker instead of a machine.

"I said to her, 'Shouldn't it say Knowles and not Severe?'" Ramsour said of his situation. "There was a little shadow there was a little cloud because I'd paid close enough attention, but not everyone might."

Ramsour said it was a coincidence that he happened to catch the poll worker's mistake of pulling up the wrong precinct.

MEC officials also suggested that voters should become familiar with their sample ballot so they can also double check to make sure they're voting for the correct precinct.

Barrett said the bottom line is that if a person has a problem or question while voting they should ask a poll worker.

"You have two chances at the end to confirm your vote, confirm your candidates, you can go back and correct anything that's done," he said.

Earnhardt said she filed a report about her voting problem with the state election commission.

Barrett said he had not heard of any other major problems with early voting.

This is not the first time the validity of early voting in the state has been called into question.

Earlier this week, the state Republican party raised questions about voting machines in Decatur County, saying several people who tried voting for Sen. John McCain had their votes register for Sen. Barack Obama instead.

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