Poll workers struggle with e-ballots

Por Venezuela Real - 8 de Noviembre, 2006, 8:27, Categoría: Electorales

November 07, 2006

New voting machines confounded some poll workers around the country on Election Day, and a combination of electronic glitches and human error forced some precincts to extend voting hours or switch to paper ballots.

More than 80 percent of the nation's voters were expected to cast some type of electronic ballot Tuesday, which was the deadline for major reforms mandated by the federal Help America Vote Act, passed by Congress to prevent a rerun of the 2000 election debacle.

With one in three Americans voting on a machine they had never used before, the effort to improve the integrity of the election system got off to a shaky start in hundreds of precincts from the Rockies to the Poconos. Long lines formed.

In Denver, up to 300 people stood outside some polling sites. One was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter, who waited an hour and 40 minutes.

"It's actually heartening," he said. It means people "understand the process is important enough to be patient and wait in line." Nonetheless, Democratic Party officials asked a judge to extend poll hours because of the delays.

A long ballot and new machines caused the disruptions, according to Colorado secretary of state spokeswoman Lisa Doran. "Despite the training, some of the election judges are intimidated by the machines," she said.

Computer glitches and poll workers' unfamiliarity with the new equipment were also blamed for long lines in such states as Tennessee, South Carolina and Illinois.

In North Carolina, about 100 voters were left waiting at a church because the poll worker who had the key showed up nearly an hour late.

In Pennsylvania, a computer programming error forced some to cast paper ballots. In Indiana, 175 precincts also resorted to paper. Counties in those states also extended poll hours to make up for delays.

As of midday, none of the stumbles seemed to signal a voting disaster, said poll watchers.
"Lots of fender-benders, but no major tie-ups," said Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, a nonpartisan group that tracks election problems. "It's been a steady drumbeat, but nothing that rises to the level of `This could compromise the results.'"

Nevertheless, some of the mishaps raised the frustration level

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