Voting machine fails test
Published: November 1, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - With only three business days left before Election Day, the territory's voting machines have yet to be certified because of equipment malfunctions in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
According to an email from St. Thomas-St. John Board of Elections Chairwoman Alecia Wells to other board members, one machine on St. Thomas malfunctioned during testing Saturday.
Wells said she went to the Elections Office to witness a test of the machine. During the demonstration, a section of the ballot that was supposed to allow voting for no more than four candidates allowed only three votes to be registered.
"Therefore, we need to meet on Monday at 11 a.m. to make a decision on this issue," Wells wrote.
Board member Lawrence Boschulte said that as of Wednesday the vote-counting issue remained unresolved. He said the problematic portion of the ballot pertained to the Board of Elections race for the St. Thomas-St. John District. The machine also had problems aligning ballots properly, Boschulte said.
The board is waiting for a response from Elections Supervisor John Abramson Jr., according to Boschulte. Abramson did not return a call to The Daily News for this story.
Abramson issued a statement Tuesday stating that a St. Croix Board of Elections meeting to certify machines would resume Friday. He did not mention any problems with the St. Croix machines or anything at all about the St. Thomas machines.
Boschulte said all of the machines except for the one on St. Thomas, including those on St. Croix, "worked perfectly."
The programmer who can fix the machine agreed to do so by today, after which the machines could be certified, he said.
Abramson is responsible for certifying the voting machines, and the Board's only oversight of the process is as it relates to Abramson's job performance overall, according to Boschulte.
The law is less than clear as to who bears responsibility for certifying voting machines. One section that pertains to acquiring electronic voting machines does not address the issue.
"The vote counting segment shall be certified after a satisfactory evaluation testing has been performed according to electronic industry standards," the law states.
That section of the law also states that the Joint Board of Elections and the Elections Supervisor "shall approve or disapprove any voting system submitted to them within 20 days after the date of its initial submission."
The law does not say whether that applies only to new systems or to the systems to be used in each election.
The law does give the Joint Board the authority to prescribe "rules and regulations to achieve and maintain the maximum degree of correctness, impartiality and efficiency of the procedures of voting, counting, tabulating, and recording votes, by the electronic or voting systems and methods provided by law."
Either way, Boschulte said, the board is prepared with a plan B.
"The worst-case scenario would be the election goes on and the Board of Elections section would be on paper," he said. "Everybody else would be machine or paper. We don't see that happening, but we'll worry about that if we cross that bridge."
Board member Wilma Marsh-Monsanto said the Board should have replaced the aging machines long ago.
"They need to be thrown away," she said. "There is a major problem. If you had a computer that's 26 years old, you'd be in trouble."
Boschulte said the complications are the latest in what has been a series of problems with the 2012 election cycle.
"I know, speaking for myself, there have been too many questions and too many delays this election, which I have a problem with," he said.
- Contact Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.