Voting Machine Troubles in Utah County


Voters in Utah County are having trouble voting this morning. The problem seems to be poll workers not knowing how to bring the machines up and make them work.

Robert Nelson was among those in Provo and other locations in Utah County who were unable to cast their votes using the new voting machines when the polls opened. After arriving at his polling location at 7 a.m., Nelson said he spent an hour and a half hoping the machines would be fixed. "The workers were earnestly trying to get the machines to work, but not a one in our precinct worked," Nelson said. "I work in Salt Lake City, so I couldn't wait for the machines to work."
From Salt Lake Tribune - Problems for voters in Utah County; some delays in Salt Lake
Referenced Tue Nov 07 2006 10:00:53 GMT-0700 (MST)

The problems seem to with the cards that each voter gets to activate the machine. Large batches of them were wrong and no one could vote.

Encoder problems at most, if not all, of the 118 voting stations left early morning voters standing in line for more than an hour waiting to cast their electronic ballots.

There were problems with the encoders at most, if not all, of the polls in Utah County, said Sandy Hoffmann, elections coordinator for Utah County, but all of the problems have been remedied.

Hoffmann said there was no indication that there would be any problems with the encoders. To fix the glitch, Hoffmann said one of the electronic voting machines at each polling location was taken out of sequence and turned into a large encoder.

"The encoder is the little device that programs the voter card," said Joe Demma, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert.

Reportedly some precincts went to paper provisional ballots, but most of the poll workers just turned people away and told them to come back later.

If this comes down to poorly trained poll workers, that's a big problem because those are the people who are the front line defense in voting security. If they're not being training properly, then we should be skeptical of any plan that requires them to play a significant role in voting security.

If the problem is about mistakes by people in the clerk's office, then I'm less concerned since they're capable of setting up procedures and learning from their mistakes. Still, it shows that mistakes happen and we shouldn't be sanguine about procedures being carried out correctly.

I'm concerned that poll workers would turn voters away when a provisional system was in place and could have been used. I wonder if they have guidelines about when to break out the paper ballots and whether they were followed.