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One Sequoia machine faulty; no other major hiccups in Tompkins County (NY)
Ithaca Journal. November 4, 2008. By Liz Lawyer

Some voters had trouble voting with a Sequoia electronic voting machine at the polling place at Titus Towers on Plain Street today.

Sequoia ballot marking devices are designed to allow people with visual or physical limitations to vote, though any voter may use them.

Democratic Tompkins County Board of Elections Commissioner Stephen DeWitt said the problem lies in a software glitch that causes the machine to freeze up during the instructions segment. The machine at Titus Towers seems to be the only one with that problem, he said.

“It certainly is a little disconcerting for someone that’s voting,” DeWitt said. “We’re not happy with it. They’re brand new machines, so they don’t have a strong history. So far that appears to be only problem with devices (in Tompkins County.)”

Larry Roberts, program director at the Finger Lakes Independence Center, a disability advocacy and support organization, said that though he successfully voted and the machine accurately recorded his vote, he had trouble using the machine at Titus Towers.

Roberts said he also felt he lacked privacy while voting because of where the machine was located. He said he felt other people could observe who he was voting for.

DeWitt said the machine has been moved to allow for greater privacy, and that a machine specialist was sent to check on the machine after Roberts’ complaint and again after another voter called about the device.

“I was conscious people might be able to see what I was doing,” Roberts said. “If people know me they probably know who I voted for, but the point is all people are supposed to have privacy when they vote.”

Roberts said he believes the problems are a result of the machines being new and that as ballot marking devices become more common, using them will become easier and problems with be smoothed over.

He said FLIC has not been encouraging people to use the machines this election cycle because he and others at the center expected there to be problems during the machines’ first outing.

Other unexpected election-day hiccups in Tompkins County include higher turnout than usual, DeWitt said around 1 p.m. “There’s extremely high turnout, from what we can gather,” he said. “Lines aren’t humongously long – 15 to 20 minutes is about average.”

Other polling places across the country are reported to have problems with hours-long lines, faulty machines and other difficulties.


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