District two and three offline five hours
Voters in the two largest voting districts in Granville ran into a problem Tuesday morning when they arrived to find the voting machine did not work.
Election observer Diane Martin said when the village hall on Quaker Street opened for voters in District 2 and District 3 the sole voting machine did not come on. “A new machine is coming,” Martin said just after 10 a.m.
Martin referred additional comment to Washington County Board of Elections officials.
Newly appointed Republican election commissioner Leslie Allen said the new machine was installed at the village hall about 11:15 a.m. and was operating correctly within seven minutes.
Martin did say the ballots already cast during the five hours when no voting machine worked in the village hall were being stored in a secure space inside the inactive machine and would later be scanned into the new machine by elections inspectors.
“We have a Democrat and a Republican there, and they can scan those in any time. They don’t have to wait for the end of the night,” Allen said. Despite the delay, Allen said, she expected voting to continue at a brisk pace.
Some questioned what would happen when the new voting machines “kick back” or reject improperly completed ballots.
Allen said all of the votes would count except in the case of what election officials called an “over vote.”
In that case, Allen said, the “over vote” gets rejected; the remainder of the ballot counts. If, for example, a voter filled in more than one space for governor that vote would be rejected but the rest of the votes on the ballot get counted.
Allen said no other issues were reported in Washington County up to that point and early media reports cited few problems across the state.
The county has four backup machines, Allen said. A technician was called in when the problem was reported just after 6 a.m. and met Allen at the village hall to set up the new machine hours later.
Later reports had voting moving along smoothly.
Village Clerk treasurer Rick Roberts said he appealed to county elections officials weeks prior to the election, citing what could potentially be a heavy voter turnout. He was seeking at least one more machine for the combined district, which typically votes on three old-style lever-action machines.
Roberts said 1,107 people, meaning more than 74 per hour and more than one per minute, voted at the village hall during the last election.
By virtue of the numbers alone, Roberts said, he thought the village hall should have had an additional machine.
“The argument that I made was what if we still had people voting at the (Granville Engine and Hose Co. No. 1) we’d still need two machines,” Roberts said.
Also given the potential increased voting time as those new to the process learn how to navigate through casting their ballot had potential to lead to delays.
“I’m just trying to advocate for our constituency because the process has changed significantly,” Roberts said.
Allen said she thought the new machines were ultimately faster, while there might be a delay marking the ballot or waiting in line to feed it into the scanner the machine does so in less than 12 seconds. On the old machines people spent much longer period of time once behind the curtain, she said.