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Summit County residents show up at polls only to find they've already voted  (UT)

Christopher Smart   The Salt Lake Tribune    27 October 2008

Some Park City-area voters were surprised to learn last week when they tried to cast early ballots they'd already voted - when, in fact, they hadn't.
    An apparent computer glitch informed poll workers that ballots couldn't be provided to several would-be voters at the Park City Library.
    The problem has since been corrected, said Summit County Chief Deputy Clerk Ryan Cowley. Nobody was turned away without voting, he said. And each vote will be counted.
    But Park City resident Mary Cook said she became concerned when poll workers told her she couldn't vote again.
    When she insisted the computer was in error, poll workers advised her to cast a paper provisional ballot.
    Such ballots are not counted election night but later when they are determined to be legitimate. Provisional ballots also must include name, address and identification information.
    Cook, however, said poll workers apparently didn't know that when instructing frustrated voters how to cast provisional ballots. Without the identification information, ballots would not be valid.
    "I wouldn't want people to think it's voter fraud," she said. "It suggests to me a training gap. It's a systemic issue with equipment and training."
    In the end, Cook said she filled out a provisional ballot. Other voters, she noted, insisted on casting computer ballots.
    Kathy Dopp, a long-time critic of touch-screen voting and Park City resident, said voter disenfranchisement is a recurring problem across the United States. When denied access to the polls, informed voters will demand provisional ballots, she said.
    However, despite her criticisms of computer voting - that it's difficult to audit - voters are better off casting a computer ballot, she said, because provisional ballots are not always counted.
    "Provisional ballots are not included in election-night totals," Dopp noted. "It may take two weeks for them to determine whether your provisional ballot should be counted."
    But the deputy county clerk discounts such criticisms, saying poll workers and the computer system are working well.
    "There have been some issues, but we've been able to respond and fix them," Cowley said.
    As of Monday morning, 2,300 Summit County residents had cast early ballots with very few problems. The county has 27,280 registered voters.
    "The early voting is good for us," he said. "There will still be lines election day, but this will eliminate a lot of it."

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