How are the new voting machines working?

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11/02/2010 3:12 PM |


TIM KELLY PHOTO With guidance from poll watcher Jane Minerva (right) Susan Jermusyk casts her ballot at the Cutchogue firehouse using the new electronic voting machine Tuesday afternoon


Are the new electronic voting machines a help or a hindrance?
That depends on who’s asking.
Reports from polling stations across the area indicated some problems with the new system getting its first major test on Election Day.
But in other spots, the machines lived up to the promise of simplifying and speeding up the voting process.
Gone are the days when voters walked into a booth, pulled a handle to close the curtains, flicked down tiny switches over candidates and then pulled back the lever to record the vote and open the curtains. Now voters take a ballot sheet to one of several privacy stations, mark their choices with a felt-tip pen and then feed the paper ballot into an electronic tabulator.
The problems reported throughout the day include misfeeds, which can result from a voter marking more than one candidate in the same race or someone misunderstanding the system.
In other cases poll watchers drew criticism for failing to properly describe the use of privacy sleeves, which keep a voter’s choices hidden, and for failing to indicate that privacy can be maintained by simply feeding in the ballot forms face-down.
A Mattituck woman voting at the high school said when she accidentally mismarked the ballot the machine spit it back out. The poll watcher flipped the ballot over in order to write on it, but that made it visible to the people on the line, said Joan Zanieski.
“I was very upset,” she said. “I don’t see why she had to look at it. I don’t think that’s right.”
At the Cutchogue firehouse, the voting went “exceptionally well,” said poll watcher Shannon Simon. By mid-afternoon over 300 people had voted but there was no line.
“It couldn’t be going better,” Ms. Simon said.

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