A handful of voters throughout the state have reported problems making a choice on touch-screen voting machines used in roughly a quarter of North Carolina counties. Newspapers in both Cumberland and Guilford counties have reported on voter complaints. Callers to WRAL-TV have also asked about problems their friends encountered when voting early. “We don’t even question the voter as to whether it’s true or not,” said Terri Robertson, director of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. She said her staffers are instructed to shut down any voting machine that a voter is having problems with and service it. Voters, meanwhile, are directed to another machine, she said.
Robertson said that it’s important for voters to review their ballots before submitting them, something the machine asks them to do. If they don’t see their choice for a particular office, they should either make changes themselves or ask for help. The problems with voting machines have become fodder for talk radio hosts and the like, who have questioned whether there might not be some organized effort to tilt the election one way or the other.
Elections officials say the problems they’re encountering tend to be random, with no clear pattern one way or the other. “It’s something disconcerting to the voter,” said Pamela Smith, president of the California-based Verified Voting Foundation. Smith said North Carolina got good marks for having proper plans to handle problems, and she said the procedures that elections officials are following sound correct.