Local News

Electronic Ballots Fail To Win Over Wake Voters, Election Officials

Posted November 2, 2002 10:49 a.m. EST

— Electronic voting machines that were supposed to solve Florida's election problems have created problems at two Wake County voting sites.

Election officials said it appears some of the high-tech machines cannot count.

Wake County prides itself on using paper ballots that are easy to read and machines that count them accurately. Voters simply use a marker to connect two lines next to a candidate's name.

This year, during early voting, the county is testing touch-screen machines -- including the same kind of machines that threw Florida's primary into a tailspin.

"It's ridiculous. They wouldn't have had all the trouble they did in Florida if they had the ballot we've got now," said a Raleigh voter of the traditional ballots.

The electronic machines failed to count 294 ballots cast last week at a Cary senior citizens center and a Raleigh police substation.

One of the safeguards Wake County put in place helped election officials sort out the problem.

During early voting, every ballot -- whether cast on paper or electronically -- is numbered at the top. Election officials are cross-referencing the numbers to find out which ballots were counted and which ones were not.

Officials noticed the problem Sunday night when the number of ballots cast did not match the number of ballots counted.

State election director Cherie Poucher spent all day on the phone reassuring residents.

"They may go vote again at One-Stop voting locations, they can vote on Election Day. If they're out of town, we'll Fedex them a ballot," Poucher said.

The problem machines were removed, and voters at the two sites are casting ballots the old-fashioned way. Election officials said this may convince them to stick with what they know works.

Electronic machines that are being tested at other early voting sites in Wake County have not had any problems. None of those machines will be used on Election Day.