Election officials respond to machine malfunctions following voter complaints of ‘changed votes’

Voters head to polls for Midterm election

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County election officials are working to fix problems that have been reported at the polls, including complaints of “changed votes.”

“We’ve had machine issues that are typical in the field, mostly calibration issues,” Director at Richland County Elections Commission Rokey Suleman said. "We have thirty techs in the field to work on problems and anytime we receive a report of an issue, we hope to have it resolved within an hour’s time.”

Some voters expressed concerns that their votes were being changed, saying they pressed one name on the ballot and it would switch to another. Suleman says this is part of the calibration issue.

“When you hit the machine for one person, it can sometimes switch to the other candidate if there is a calibration issue. It can often happen with people with shaky hands or people with long finger nails,” Suleman said.

Nobody’s votes were purposefully changed, according to the director. He went on to say the main issue is the age of the equipment.

He said the voting equipment is 14 years old. Screens are tested and programmed in the warehouse, but when they get delivered to the polling locations, sometimes they are jostled about.

The State Election Commission is trying to get the legislature to approve $54 million for new voting equipment. It is being considered in this year’s budget appropriations.

And as far as voters asking why the machines weren’t checked for issues before Tuesday morning, Suleman says "Machines are sealed beforehand so poll workers can’t test the machine until voting begins. Equipment is checked before they get the info loaded onto them then they get sealed until Election Day.”

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