A county in Virginia is taking their voting system back in time by replacing their high-tech machines with paper ballots. Augusta County officials decided to make the switch from direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs) to paper ballots due to concerns about machine malfunctions, according to The News Leader. “It is the touch screens you are familiar with, they were designed for 10 year use and we have reached that point,” Augusta County Board of Elections Secretary Tom Long told the paper. “We have experienced some glitches in our voting machines. Screens going blank for no reason in the last election.”
Chris Hudson, a former investigator with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Sheriff Fred S. Clark in the Nov. 3 election, told supervisors they need to act immediately on replacing the county’s voting machines. Hudson, who came in third in the sheriff’s race in November behind winner Fred Clark and Thomas Logan, voiced concerns during the public comment period of Monday’s board of supervisors meeting about what he described as “a major issue” with the county’s 51 voting machines used in the Nov. 3 election. Filing for an investigation to take place immediately after the election, Hudson said his issue was to address a calibration problem with the machines. “I was advised I had to wait 30 days before the process could start, so the process started Friday,” he told supervisors.
State elections officials expressed concern Monday that some of the voting equipment used in November balloting is outdated and does not meet requirements under state law. Don Palmer, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said at a board meeting that some of the voting machines are not able to flag overvotes or undervotes, which would allow those ballots to be inspected manually. Republican Mark D. Obenshain hopes that the proper count of such ballots in the upcoming recount will sway the election result of the attorney general’s race, in which Democrat Mark R. Herring was certified the winner by 165 votes. An undervote would be one in which a selection would be made in at least one race, but not others. Overvotes include ballots in which two candidates were originally marked for a race, but one was crossed out. “The code requires in a recount situation that undervotes, overvotes and write-ins be rejected so they can be analyzed personally by the recount teams and observers of each party,” Palmer said. If there is a dispute over a particular ballot — meaning if the voter’s intention isn’t immediately clear — it would go to the recount court in Richmond, a panel of three judges headed by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals.