Voting Machine Glitch Worries GOP Candidate
Board of Elections says issue is common, urges voters to double check their votes.
At least two voting machines at Pine Grove Middle School in Parkville had to be restarted after some voters had problems voting for Republican county executive candidate Ken Holt.
Joe Seehusen, a spokesman for Holt's campaign, said he received a complaint about a "voting irregularity" at Pine Grove Middle School Tuesday morning where a voter said he "pushed the button for Holt but got the write-in screen."
Seehusen also said that while he was present at the precinct two other voters reported that they had voted for Holt only to received an indication that their ballot was cast for Democrat Kevin Kamenetz. The voters caught the error and changed it before finalizing his ballot.
An elections judge at the precinct then cast his own vote and had a similar experience, Seehusen said.
The glitch resulted in at least two machines being shut down for a brief time.
Seehusen said he had heard of reports of similar incidents at other precincts affecting Democratic candidates and did not believe there was a "coordinated effort to miscount votes."
Still, the glitch concerned him and the Holt campaign.
"This is a real issue," said Seehusen, adding that he was worried voters intending to vote for Holt may have accidentally voted for Kamenetz. "Votes had to have been lost.
"It's very possible that the people who did not know and were not looking pushed a button and didn't check it and walked away," Seehusen said.
Katie Brown, county elections director, attributed the issue to a "calibration error." She said the error is not uncommon and can happen when elections officials set up the machines and essentially teach the machine to understand what a touch in a certain area of the screen means.
A radical change in the height of the voter compared to the person who set up the machine or a change in the angle of the screen can lead to this problem, Brown said.
"Sometimes it's just the angle and the screen can be adjusted up or down," said Brown, who called the issue "pretty typical" since the county and state began using the machines.
Brown said that four of the 223 precincts in the county have reported similar problems so far today.
Poll workers at Pine Grove and other affected precincts have been told to explain the issue to voters and urged voters to double check their votes before finalizing them.
"It's the voter's responsibility to double check their ballots," Brown said.
The touch screen glitch appears to be the only problem at county polling places so far. Brown said many precincts are reporting lines and at 12:30 p.m. there was about a 20 percent turnout, not including the 6.3 percent who voted early last week.
One of the longest lines was reported at Timonium Elementary School, where about 30 people were waiting in line during the lunch hour to vote, Brown said.
Elections officials earlier this week predicted about a 60 percent turnout—nearly twice the 31 percent seen in the primary election.
"We'll get the 60 percent," Brown said Tuesday afternoon.