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New Voting Machines Cause of Delays | News

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New Voting Machines Cause of Delays
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A couple dozen voters waited until 2 a.m. for election results that they had hoped to have in their hands by 8:30pm.

All indications point to problems with pollworkers new voting machines and pollworkers using them correctly.  By 2am, election officials announced they would have to leave 15 precincts uncounted until morning because the ballot cartridges for those precincts were incompletely closed by pollworkers.  Most of those uncounted precincts were located east of the Anacostia River.

"We have partial results from those precincts," said Paul Stenbjorn, Chief Technology Manager.  "But we will not release them until we have all of the votes counted in those precincts."

Stenbjorn added that better training may be needed with the new voting system, a system that included final results posted for each precinct at that polling location after the last ballot was cast. 

Officials called these precinct by precinct results "tapes on the walls." DC adopted the system after studying how it was used in Chicago, but it too can add to delays according to Authorized Election Observer Bill O'Field.

"We now are posting election results at the precinct level in addition to posting them online," he said.  "So the captains have to run two tapes, one tape to be viewed at the precinct and then they have to run a  second one to put with the materials they send to the Board of Elections."

Stenbjorn said it was worth the added effort.

"We find the process of public disclosure helps cement the public's confidence in the integrity" of DC Board of Elections, said Stenbjorn.

The voter turnout was deemed low by election observers.  With roughly 90 percent of the precincts reporting, officials said 114,595 ballots were cast in DC, roughly 30 percent of the population. 

Even still, officials said more people came to vote later in the day making the teams wait before they could pick up the media 'cartridges' that contained the ballot results for each precinct.

"If you have a line at the precinct," said O'Field. "You have to let the voters still in line vote and that could cause delays with picking up the cartridges."

O'Field and other volunteers traveled to dozens of polling sites to watch for any problems.  He shared concerns about the reliability of some of the older buildings used for voting, especially when it comes to the new voting machines DC adopted called electronic pollbooks.  The devices are used to look up the information of a registered voter but O'Field said the surge protection might not be guaranteed at some sites.

"By November, they're going to have approximately five of these pollbooks and my concern is that in a place like Mount Bethel Baptist Church in Ward 5, I was looking around there and thinking this could be a concern."

Written by Brittany Morehouse
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com

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