A little local story that's probably sadly rather representative.

From: Edmund R. Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 17:20:22 CST

 
 
GASTONIA - Water from a malfunctioning toilet may have
 destroyed 100 of Gaston County's 339 voting machines, causing about $500,000 damage over the weekend.
                                                                                                        &
nbsp;
 Gaston County commissioners discussed the damaged machines during their meeting
Tuesday night. It's the latest in a series of problems that have plagued the Gaston County Board of Elections since the Nov. 2, election.
                                                                                                      
   Gaston election workers failed to count more than 13,000 votes in the presidential election.
About 12,000 were early votes and 1,200 were from a precinct in Dallas. The state investigated the oversights, which led to the resignation of Elections Director Sandra Page and Elections Board Chairman Tony Branch in December. Democrats plan to appoint a new board member on Thursday.
 
Acting Gaston County Board of Elections Chairman Richard Jordan blamed the county's poor facilities for the damage to the voting machines. "We had $1 million worth of computers stored in a damp, dark basement," he said. The damage to the machines will not affect election results, officials said. County manager Jan Winters said the commode appeared to be intentionally broken. "It was smashed," he said. But Commissioner Chairman Tom Keigher said he had heard that the rupture was caused by corrosion. Winters said the machines have been moved to Gaston County Police headquarters and are being assessed for damage. The county has insurance on the machines that will likely cover the damage, Winters said. Commissioner John Torbett asked Winters to find out whether the county could replace the damaged machines with machines that spit out receipts for voters. Commissioner Jack Brown suggested this might be the time to switch to a machine!
  that is
 easier for voters to use .
                                                                    ;
 Gaston County commissioners also discussed the reasons why the Board of Elections went
$115,000 over budget on the Nov. 2 election. The first problem was that the election budget was too small, Winters said. But Gaston is one of the few counties that pays poll workers by the hour. Other counties pay a flat fee. Also, Gaston County contracts for maintenance on its voting machines, while other counties use staff to work on machines
 
  Jordan said the Board of Elections is working on plans to prevent future problems. The board plans to do more training for poll workers and to develop a checklist for poll workers to ensure the election process runs smoothly. Torbett was not impressed. "There are people who have given their lives so we can go vote," he said. "It's a sad state of affairs when we go through what we went through here in November."
                                                                                                                        ;
                                                                                                                                  
Karen Cimino: (704) 868-7742;
                                    kcimino@charlotteobserver.com

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Received on Sat Jan 7 22:28:56 2006

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