Ohio: Overload of Phone Calls on Election Day

There were problems with the vote tabulation equipment at Mile Branch Grange on Knox School Road in Alliance, Ohio on Tuesday morning. According to election official George Sheen, poll workers tried in vain to contact the Columbiana County Board of Elections starting at 8am when the ballot scanning machine started to malfunction.

Mile Branch Grange in Alliance, Ohio. Photo by Jeff Forsythe

Mile Branch Grange in Alliance, Ohio. Photo by Jeff Forsythe

“There was some sort of memory problem and it wouldn’t read,” said Sheen. “We tried for an hour and a half.” But nobody at the Board of Elections could be reached. According to Sheen, poll workers resorted to calling the Sheriff’s Department at about 9am. He said a short while later someone came to fix the machine. “What they did was unplug it, wait two minutes and plug it back in.” Sheen said the vote count was the same when the machine was turned back on and it started counting votes again.

Voters were still able to cast ballots while the machine was down, and Sheen said the ballots will remain in a compartment in the machine until the polls close, at which time election officials will feed the ballots into the scanner.

Kim Meek, Election Director, said the Board of Elections was inundated with phone calls Tuesday. “Something changed in the system earlier this week and instead of going through the normal routine and getting the three dedicated lines, we were somehow forwarded to the court house,” said Meek. “There was a problem with the phones, number one. Taking that into consideration, we had an overload of phone calls and all of our cell phones were ringing.” Meek said everyone voted and nobody was turned away.

She also reassured voters that they won’t lose their votes. “Before they leave they’re going to have voted ballots and un-voted ballots and they’re going to come up with a number. They’re going to take the number that’s off the optical scan and reconcile to that. If they do not reconcile they do not leave. If there’s a problem they call here, the Board of Elections, and we try and talk them through the reconciliation.”

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~ by skepsis on November 4, 2008.

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