Local Democrats report polling machine malfunctions, Election Commission leaders say issues have been corrected

Authored By Chloé Morrison

Local Democratic leaders have reported problems with voting machines at the Bethlehem Center, the Urban League and Ridgedale voting precincts, but an Election Commission leader said the problems had been worked out by midmorning. 

“I think we’ve got everything corrected now,” Administrator of Elections Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said Tuesday at about 11 a.m.

But after she said they had been corrected, Chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party Paul Smith said he learned of the machine malfunctions at Ridgedale. Mullis-Morgan couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on that situation. 

Smith said that some of the problems have been brought on by redistricting and changes in voting locations.

And some of the issues are because citizens haven’t been given clear instructions about their polling place location, he said.  

“It’s systemic,” Smith said. “It’s going on all over the county-everywhere I’ve gone in all the precincts, we’re finding glitches that are preventing people from voting.” 

Election Commission leaders didn’t send out voter registration cards soon enough to some people in the Highland Park area, Smith also said.

“This is generally aimed toward a block of people because of their race or ethnicity and because of their voting patterns,” he said. 

Mullis-Morgan said that some people have waited until the last minute to figure out where they are supposed to vote and that procrastination keeps the Election Commission’s phone lines busy. Twenty-five people are working to answer the phones to answer questions and take complaints, she said. 

But she said it’s “next to impossible” to get through to the Election Commission on Election Day during a presidential race. 

Smith said poll workers denied one young woman the right to vote and that she should have been given a provisional ballot. Formal complaints will likely be made about such “voter suppression” attempts, he said. 

At the Bethlehem Center, all the poll workers were replaced because they were not being efficient, and it prevented some from voting, he also said. 

Machines should have been charged and plugged in, Mullis-Morgan said, but at the Urban League, the battery was dying at about 8:30 a.m., and some voters had to put their ballots in the machine without them being scanned.

Despite the glitches, a paper trail helps ensure all the votes will be counted, even if the machines were temporarily out of order, Mullis-Morgan said.

“Their votes will be counted,” she said. “Take into consideration that these machines were bought in 1998. We need new equipment, and next year, we will get new equipment. We’ve had to baby [the machines] along.”