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Berkeley County delays payment on machines

December 14, 2000

Berkeley County delays payment on machines



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The national election may be over, but the aftermath of the election in Berkeley County lingers.

The Berkeley County Commissioners Thursday held up payment to the company that rented the county vote counting machines that malfunctioned on election night. The commissioners had to borrow machinery from Jefferson County to complete the count of ballots 12 hours after the polls closed.

"We were all upset about this election night," said Commissioner Robert Burkhart. "I said then I didn't feel we should pay them and I still feel that way."

The company, Election Systems and Software, Inc., of Omaha, Neb., sent a technician to fix the problems after the election. A company representative was on hand as the Commissioners performed the automatic canvass of ballots the week after the election.

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The technician determined that a computer had malfunctioned that was supposed to give commands to the machine through which the punch card ballots were run.

Because the company had responded immediately after the problem, they might deserve some of the $6,950 they charged the county, Burkhart said.

Commissioner John Wright suggested the county negotiate a settlement with the company over the issue.

A spokesman for the company could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Burkhart said the situation was compounded by the fact the county had a room full of election workers who could not work because the vote counting machine did not work.

"We had a lot of people sitting around for a long time doing nothing because the machines wouldn't work," Burkhart said.

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