Jones County Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin is waiting for a decision from the U.S. Department of Justice about the legality of removing printers from the county’s voting machines. Gavin gained the approval of the Jones County Board of Supervisors in August, but at the suggestion of District 5 Supervisor Jerome Wyatt, Gavin has to provide information stating that no laws will be violated if the printers are removed.
“Our voting machines were not designed to have these printers,” said Gavin. “The Mississippi Legislature decided we should add the printers after we switched to electronic voting machines.” The printers are extra attachments that were added to the voting machines at the request of then-Secretary of State Eric Clark. Gavin said he understands the desire to have a back-up record of votes cast, but the printers are not needed for back-up.“The memory cards in each of the voting machines have a record of the votes and can be easily printed out from the computer,” said Gavin. “People don’t have to worry about them being tampered with because I, along with Ken Reynolds, our voting commissioner, are the only ones who have a key to the room where our computer is stored.
“Also, the computer we use is not even hooked up to the Internet,” added Gavin. “We have a number of safeguards in place to make sure we have accurate records.”
Marian A. Allen, a community activist and candidate for District 3 Justice Court Judge, disagrees. “Any computer can be manipulated,” said Allen. “A computer is a machine and the data can be changed any kind of way. Anybody who has the ability to write a computer program can change data on a card.”
Allen said after a person casts a ballot the machine tells them they should be able to print their results.
“We have never had the opportunity in Jones County to print out our results,” said Allen. “We just want things done decently and in order.”
Gavin said he wants everyone to know that he doesn’t have a problem with printers. He says they are just not functioning the way they were intended to function and are causing more problems during elections.
Gavin said poll workers have to come in as early as 5 or 5:30 a.m. to get voting machines ready by the 7 a.m. voting start time. A lot of times they do not thread the paper into the printers right and it causes paper jams.