Poll workers struggle to obtain results

Published 1:01 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Tech Advisor Johnny Collins works to retrieve results from the last voting machine inside of the Adams County Courthouse Tuesday night.

NATCHEZ — Primary county election results came close to remaining incomplete this morning.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the election commission found themselves unable to extract poll results from two polling machines — one from the bypass fire precinct and one from the Pine Ridge precinct, Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said.

Precincts report their numbers to the courthouse via memory cards that are inserted into polling machines at the beginning of each Election Day, and for whatever reason, Gardner said, these two machines’ cards were faulty.

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Data was recovered from the internal archives of the machines shortly after the problem was discovered, and Gardner said there’s no chance any result would have been skewed because of the mishap.

Election Commissioner Mitch Ballard also made several runs to precincts to aid with printing election results when poll workers ran into problems with printing results after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“It was mostly due to things like printer errors — machines not being fully plugged in, paper problems, workers forgetting (to put in) certain sequences,” he said. “I just had to go out and remind them.”

Ballard said there’s no chance any of those issues could have altered poll results.

“The machines keep an internal memory, and they also keep a record on the (memory) card,” he said.

A few other problems occurred when voters wanted to switch their ballots from Republican to Democrat after discovering that none of the local Republican races were on the ballot. The only contested local races are on the Democratic ballot.

Gardner said the commission encounters this problem often when big local races have candidates competing in one party.

As long as the voter catches the problem before the vote is cast, Gardner said, the ballot could be switched.

However, he said, the election commission heard a report of one case in which a voter questioned the party they voted in after they cast their ballot.

“Once they cast it, you can’t re-vote,” Gardner said. “This happens every four years.”