Voters report irregularities in voting machines


Sumter County voters are reporting some irregularities in voting machines across the area. But the election commission suggests the issues relate to machine and human errors.

Jennifer Marchman, who lives in Oakland Precinct 2, said when she went to vote and tried to vote for Republican Donald Trump, the electronic ballot changed it to Green Party candidate Jill Stein. When it asked her to confirm her vote, she canceled and attempted to vote again. Three times she tried to vote for Trump, and the voting machine switched her vote to Stein.

After the third rejection, Marchman decided to try voting a straight Republican ticket, even though she didn’t want to because she supported a non-Republican in at least one other race. Again, the confirmation asked her to confirm she wanted to vote a straight Green Party ticket. When she canceled that straight ticket and voted a straight Republican ticket again, it went through correctly.

Marchman said she mentioned the issue to the people at the polling place, and they said they would get a technician to repair it.

After she left Oakland Elementary School, she decided to go back in to verify someone was repairing the machine.

The technician got “huffy” and said she recalibrated it, Marchman said.

Voters in Clarendon County reported similar issues with their votes changed in the presidential campaign.

In Sumter, Sumter Item editor and publisher Jack Osteen resides in Ward 6, where David Merchant represents him on Sumter City Council. But at his Swan Lake precinct, his ballot listed candidates in Ward 4, the only contested ward in the election.

Charles Moore, vice chairman of the Sumter County Election Commission, said touchscreen voting machines occasionally get out of calibration, and different sections of the screen become more sensitive. He said bumping into the machines or moving them can cause the screens to go out of calibration.

He also said some people don’t realize they are touching the screen with their hand or a knuckle that may cause it to register for the wrong candidate. He encourages voters to double check each candidate choice before approving the ballot and to notify poll workers of problems.

Moore explained that when they recalibrate the touch screen, the screen gives the technician a series of X’s that indicate the sensitivity of the screen.

For Osteen’s ballot representing the wrong ward, Moore said poll workers likely gave him the wrong choice of candidates on the ballot and that he should have reported it to the poll workers. Osteen said he did but they did not change his ballot.

If you discover similar irregularities during your attempt to vote, Moore encourages you to bring it to the attention of the poll worker immediately.