Elections

A dozen ballot-counting machines were not working in Clay County: election officials

Voters in Kansas City headed to the polls at dawn to cast their ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections

Voters in Kansas City headed to the polls at dawn to cast their ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections
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Voters in Kansas City headed to the polls at dawn to cast their ballots in the hotly contested midterm elections

By waiting until 9 a.m. to vote Tuesday, Richard Zolnowski seemed to breeze through the process, and was almost on his way before he ran into trouble.

As he went to insert his ballot in the scanning machine at the polling location at The Montgomery Event Venue in Excelsior Springs, he was told the machine was down.

About a dozen of the ballot-counting machines weren’t working properly in Clay County Tuesday morning, according to election officials. The problems come on an Election Day with closely watched races and long lines on both sides of the state line.

He could wait until a repair worker came, or he could insert the ballot into a locked box to be counted later.

“I asked what would happen if the machine then rejected it. They said it wouldn’t count,” Zolnowski said. “The only alternative was to wait.”

He called the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners and was told that about a dozen other machines were down in the county and officials weren’t sure how long it would take to fix them.

“They said I could fill out a provisional ballot to be counted 10 days after the election. I didn’t like that either,” Zolnowski said. “I know it is just one vote but at that point I was getting kind of irritated.”

Patty Lamb, Republican director for the Clay County Board of Election Commissioners, said about a dozen machines were down out of 156 in the county. She said the malfunction lasted “less than a couple, or three hours.”

She said some election workers didn’t push the right buttons on voting machines. The machines are two years old.

“It’s a big election and we have a lot of new poll workers. But they have had training,” Lamb said. “It’s not going to affect the election. It’s not going to affect the count at all.”

Zolnowski left his ballot in the locked box. Still, he said the voting issues raise several questions.“How do I know my vote was counted?” he asked.

“If they pitch them because the machine rejects them then my vote didn’t get counted,” he said. “How do they have 13 machines that aren’t working? Why don’t they have a back-up plan that ensures my vote gets counted? They should hand count them if that happens.”

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