Local News

Voting Machine Problems Spur Some To Ask For New Machines

Posted November 22, 2004

— The State Board of Elections will meet Tuesday to certify the results from the Nov. 2 election.

But two statewide races won't be certified -- one of those because of a machine malfunction in Carteret County.

Some say that problem makes the case for new machines.

In Carteret County, the memory on an electronic voting machine was already full when more than 4,400 people cast their ballots.

By the time election officials discovered the problem, it was too late.

As you saw in Carteret County, they lost 4,500 votes," said Ellie Kinnaird, a Democrat state senator from Carrboro. "Had they had a paper trail, they would have known immediately."

Some state lawmakers and grassroots activists are pushing for a new type of electronic voting machine -- one that gives the voter a printed copy of their ballot as a receipt.

"That's what we want to guarantee, is that every vote is counted and accountable," said Kinnaird. "We can come back if there's a recount, we can come back if anybody has any questions and we can actually look at it."

But state election officials have questions about how reliable a receipt would be.

"You can't rely on that for any kind of manual recount later, because how would we know for certain that every one of those receipts was deposited into the ballot box, or whatever?" said Jonnie McLean of the N.C. Board of Elections.

There are also concerns about fraud and the potential for problems when the receipt tape runs out.

So far, none of these machines is certified for use in North Carolina. A new commission will study whether they should be.

The federal government will issue new standards for voting machines next year and will also give North Carolina more than $50 million to help upgrade equipment.

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