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As many counties debuted high-tech touch-screen voting in today’s primary elections, citizens in some areas flooded government offices with complaints about malfunctioning machines.
In San Diego County, Calif., the touch-screen technology malfunctioned from the get-go. Poll workers who were not trained to deal with the problems struggled, reported KGTV.
“We tried to bring up the little computer that authorizes the voter card, so the voter can get onto the voting machine,” poll worker Ron Atkins told the station. “This did not come up properly and we had no instructions on how to fix that.”
Many voters were told to come back later, or go to the registrar of voters office in Kearny Mesa, Calif.
“It’s to my understanding that all the polls are open. We did have this morning a screen come up on the activator that the poll workers were not expecting. We had to walk them through three steps to get them to the proper screen to be able to open the polls and begin giving voters their ballots,” Registrar Sally McPherson told KGTV.
The station reported about 30 polling locations throughout the county were having problems. The county registrar says about 10,000 touch-screen machines are in use today.
Some voters had to leave for work before the problem was fixed and were urged to return and cast their ballots later in the day.
In adjacent Orange County, voters also experienced trouble with new technology – a system called eSlate where voters make selections by using a dial. KFI radio reports some voters had been given the wrong access code, causing the wrong party’s candidates to come up on the machine when they went to vote.
“Our problems are … with the poll workers scrolling through to find the right ballot within the right precinct,” Brett Rowley, a spokesman for the county’s Registrar of Voters Office, told AP.
Election officials in Anne Arundel County, Md., also had some glitches this morning, forcing them to use provisional paper ballots, according to the news service. County officials denied a report from a citizen activist group that voters were being turned away from a local polling place.
Organizations opposed to touch-screen voting have urged government officials to include a paper ballot to verify votes, and some activists are encouraging voters to cast absentee votes until paper back-ups are instituted.
Technology experts have cast doubt on the security of high-tech voting machines, saying results can be easily tampered with or destroyed.
“People complain about hanging chads, but if an electronic machine has a malicious code in it, it’s possible that all of the chads are hanging – and then you have to question every vote,” Aviel Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.
An estimated 10 million voters will use touch-screen technology in at least two dozen states during the primary season.