Problems at the polls slow vote casting

Gaffes at the voting polls came early this election season. Some machines rejected the state-approved 14 inch ballots on Monday. The ones used in the August primary were 11 inches.

Supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho, said the state of Florida had problems with the OSX Optical Scanner on the first day of early voting. In Leon county, the machine rejected ballots from Woodville Community Center and the northeast public library. Newer machines were used for the election and would not accept the entries. The problem not only occurred in the county, but throughout the state.

The ballots that could not be processed were stored in an auxiliary compartment on the machine and later fed through older machines. Sancho said even though some of the machines had technical difficulties, the ballots still exist and were counted.

“Even if the machine is not working, we have the ballots,” Sancho said. “It doesn’t interfere with someone’s right to vote.”

Janet Olin, assistant supervisor of elections, said more candidates had to be added to the ballot after the August primary, which led to the need for a 14 inch ballot. Amendments also had to be printed.

Olin said that only those who voted early and sent in absentee ballots would be affected by the technical problems. She said the machines were tested and certified for the primary with the 11 inch ballots only.

The newer models were only used because they could adapt to 166 different precinct ballots. She said the fold of absentee ballots may have also caused the machine not to read ballots.

There could be a difference of up to one-sixteenth inch of a ballot that may have caused the machine to act improperly, Olin said.

“They are more sensitive to variance,” she said. To remedy the problem, two older systems replaced every newer machine at each precinct yesterday. The state will determine if any repercussions will be taken.

Six to eight voters came back Monday night after voting ended. They watched the count of rejected ballots.

Pam Marsh, the democratic Florida voting rights attorney, supervised the Leon County Courthouse precinct and said there were no problems with the machines. However, one voter had a problem with registration.

“He was allowed to vote with a provisional ballot,” she said. “The state did not have record of his registration. Once everything is checked, the vote will count.” A provisional ballot is used if a person is not listed to vote at a precinct.

Sancho said more than half of the courthouse voters were students. Early voting in the county lasts until Election Day, Nov. 4.

Voting polls will be closed this Saturday.