Delaware County Board of Elections officials addressed Commissioner Gary Merrell’s concerns that he had encountered with the new voting equipment while working the polls during the Nov. 5 general election.
“The machines didn’t work at the last election and what is the vendor doing to correct it?” Merrell declared in the commissioners’ Dec. 12 regularly scheduled session. “I realize we may not have all the answers until we actually use them in the spring, but all the more reason we need to have the understanding to hold the vendor responsible if they fail to perform.”
Board of Elections Deputy Director Anthony Saadey said the problem the commissioner was talking about specifically was the barcode reader.
“The scanners had issues on election day,” he said. “In the field technician logs, we found that 24 total out of the 844 deployed ballot marking devices had the same issue. Two of them happen to be at the commissioner’s location.”
Saadey said the machines wouldn’t scan the code but it wasn’t a fatal error that would impede voting because the code could be manually entered.
“It wasn’t a big issue really, but when you’re at the polling place with brand new equipment and you’re seeing it not working it becomes a big a concern,” he said.
Saadey said that the manufacturer of the equipment, California-based Unisyn Voting Solutions, is looking into it to figure out the problem and that board is offering as much input as possible to help.
“We’re giving them our thoughts and letting them know what we have seen,” he said.“However, they’re having a hard time replicating the problem, so we’re sending some of the units our units that have the same problem.”
Saadey speculated that something could have happened during the machine’s shipping process to the polling locations.
”It’s hard to pin-point,” he said.
Saadey informed the commissioner that the machines had been certified through the Secretary of State’s office and that all the points brought up by the Delaware County Board of Elections had been addressed.
“Out of 20 points, 18 are in the 2.1 release notes,” he said. “Everything is covered under the manufacturers warranty up until May, and we budgeted for yearly maintenance agreements which extend the warranty.”
Board of Elections Director Karla Herron told the commissioner that the board’s objective was to have the best version of the equipment possible.
“We have a very hands-on staff, and we’re not just going to send it to Unisyn,” she said. “We’re going to do our own internal testing and we’ll do whatever we can to assist.”
Herron said the board conducted an internal audit of the machine’s performance in the last election.
“The performance, as far as reading in tallying and tabulation, was that it did perform well,” she said. “The count was exact from election night to the official canvas. When we did the Powell recount, we also did a county-wide audit on the municipal clerk’s race. It was spot-on.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.