St. Louis and St. Louis County residents who like to cast their votes on a touch-screen machine won’t find one when they go to polling places for Tuesday’s election. Election authorities say the unusually short three-week period since the March 15 presidential primary didn’t provide enough time to reprogram and test each of the touch-screen devices without major difficulty. So all voters in the city and county will have to use paper ballots and feed them into optical-scan machines. Normally both optical-scan and touch-screen methods are available across the city and county. “In theory it would have been possible to do a complete turnaround, but my staff would have been run so ragged,” said Eric Fey, Democratic director at the county Election Board. “The possibility of mistakes and the cost just begins to increase exponentially.”
He said election board workers already have rolled up $60,000 in overtime pay juggling post-election tasks after the March 15 vote and other pre-election duties leading up to Tuesday’s local elections.
Overtime, Fey said, would go significantly higher if the county tried to get all of its 1,800 or so touch-screen machines ready for another round of voting. He said the county also would have had to bring in more temporary workers than usual.
Moreover, he said, the county also would have had to spend an extra $30,000 to buy additional ballot information cartridges to put in the touch-screen machines since state law requires the ones used March 15 to be secured for 30 days. For the same reason, the county already spent just more than $30,000 for additional memory cards used in the optical scan machines.