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Ballot-counting machines cause problems in primary

May 10, 2006|By DAVE McMILLION

Jefferson County officials were able to work out problems with a new ballot-counting machine for Tuesday's primary election, but the new voting system still was presenting challenges Tuesday night.

Voters in Jefferson County were able to use new touch-screen voting machines or a new paper ballot system.

With the paper ballots, voters filled in ovals beside candidate names to make selections. Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan said the counting process was slowed Tuesday night because some voters put an "x" in the ovals rather than filling them in.

When that happened, voting officials had to "re-create" the person's ballot so it could be counted in the machine, Maghan said.

Earlier Tuesday, Jefferson County officials were able to work out some problems that were detected in a new ballot-counting machine this week.

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State officials provided the county with a set of test ballots to run through the machine to make sure it was working properly, county officials said Monday.

The ballot-counting machine was supposed to yield the same results found when the ballots were counted in Charleston, W.Va., but it did not, officials said Monday.

County officials were thinking that they might have to count votes by hand, but after working on the problem again Tuesday, they were able to get consistent results from the machine, and determined it was a problem associated with a test ballot and not the machine, Jefferson County Commission President Greg Corliss said.

Jefferson County officials could not say Tuesday night what the voter turnout was.

Paul Sechler of Ranson, W.Va., was among the voters who turned out at the polls Tuesday, saying the 11-way race for four seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education was one of the reasons he voted.

"I think that probably drew more people out than normal," Sechler said.

Morgan County Clerk Debra Kesecker reported that voter turnout was light in the county Tuesday.

She said Morgan County has about 10,000 registered voters, and 328 took advantage of the early voting period that ended May 6.

Kesecker attributed the light turnout to Tuesday being a primary election and not a general election in which voters can vote for candidates from all parties.

Because of late-night delays and problems with the tabulating machine, election officials in Berkeley County could not estimate a voter turnout.

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