EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 6, 2012

Ballot machine breakdowns cause problems at polls

By Mike LaBella
mlabella@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Today voters have encountered traffic snarls and long lines at polls — and now technology is causing problems in Haverhill, around the Valley and across the state.

Several machines that count ballots broke down at polls in Haverhill and elsewhere, forcing workers to repair them under the watchful eyes of police officers and election officials, who protected ballots.

The machines are located in the areas of polling places where voters check out after marking their ballots. They place ballots into the machine, which counts votes and protects the ballots.

Machines at seven Haverhill polls became jammed. They are the Kennedy Circle elderly housing complex, Hunking School, Zion Bible College, Haverhill High School, Nettle Middle School, Moody School and Consentino School. Election officials said the machines became jammed because of absentee ballots that were folded, due to some ballots that were bigger than usual to accommodate the lengthy wording of ballot questions, and also due to malfunctioning computer chips that read ballots for the machines.

A ballot machine also became jammed at a poll in Andover, where workers removed ballots as police watched. The ballots were put into a box and locked, elections officials said.

Haverhill technicians said they were busy going to polls to fix machines, and that the problem was happening across the state, due primarily to folded absentee ballots and larger-than-normal ballots.

Watch eagletribune.com for election updates.