Something is seriously wrong when voters need to lose weight or get a manicure to be sure their votes count. In at least two cases Tuesday, Virginia Beach election officials reportedly suggested that fault might be with voters themselves, rather than malfunctioning machines. John Owens, who voted Tuesday morning at All Saints Episcopal Church, told The Pilot that when he called the registrar’s office to complain about difficulties with touchscreen voting, an official suggested that his fingers were too fat and that next time he might want to bring a Q-tip. This is what passes for modern voting? Cotton swabs? Meanwhile, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell told The Pilot she phoned the State Board of Elections to report problems and was told that long fingernails can confuse touchscreen machines. By late morning on Election Day, it was clear that complaints about voting problems in the Resort City were widespread. And not because everyone in town has chubby fingers or acrylic nails.
… On Tuesday afternoon, Cameron Glenn Sasnett, with the Virginia Department of Elections, confirmed that Virginia Beach was plagued with voting problems, with far more reports of irregularities than any other city or county in the commonwealth. He blamed the city’s antiquated touchscreen machines, which are finicky and need frequent recalibrating. Once technicians calibrated the troubled machines on Tuesday, the problems were resolved. “These are not the most reliable machines,” sighed Sasnett, explaining that touchscreens became popular after the hanging chad debacle in Florida during the presidential election of 2000. “They take a lot of care to keep them working.”
Of course, there’s a paper trail with these voting machines, right? A redundancy to assure voters that votes cast on those temperamental ballot boxes are intact? A way to track large-scale patterns of odd-couple ballots – such as votes for Republican Ed Gillespie for Senate paired with Democrat Patrick for Congress – that might indicate software problems? No.