Cook County evoting machines delay vote tabulation

Electronic voting machines caused problems in Chicago's Cook County as election workers were unable to transmit vote tallies. While local politicians were outraged, election officials call snafus "growing pains."
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Electronic voting machines caused problems in Chicago's Cook County as election workers were unable to transmit vote tallies in Tuesday's Democratic primary, the Washington Post reports. Votes for an important local race, Democratic nominee for Cook County Board president, were delayed until Wednesday.

llinois has received more than $144 million in federal grants to comply with the Help America Vote Act, which Congress passed in 2002 in response to the controversy over the disputed election in South Florida in 2000. Some of that grant went to pay for a $50 million new system of optical-scan and touch-screen machines in Cook County, manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, Calif.

"It didn't work as well as we would have liked, but it did work," said Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Tom Leach.

But the Republican candidate for Board president said the county should consider rescinding its deal for the equipment, made by Sequoia Voting Systems, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"For $52 million, I expect to have better results here than in Baghdad," said Tony Peraica, who ran unopposed Tuesday as the Republican candidate for board president.

Also taking a shot was Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who conceded the Democratic race for board president almost 24 hours after polls closed, with votes still uncounted.

"The administration of this election was a train wreck," he said.

Although votes were still being counted Wednesday night, local elections commissioner Landon Neal said essentially the problems were minor glitches in a generally smooth election.

While the main computers couldn't read data cartridges from all of the polling sites, "that happens in every election," Neal said. Other than human error and mechanical problems that were fixed, he said he "really can't say anything went wrong."

"Was it perfect? No. Was I pleased with it? No," Neal said. "But will we get better? Yes, I promise you, we will."

And the federal FEC was also content to work out the kinks, the Post reports.

Paul S. DeGregorio, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission who was in Chicago to observe the election, characterized the problems as "growing pains." He said that as states hold primaries in coming months, "there will be complicating issues with new equipment, but we'll work through them," with the goal of having the kinks worked out by the November general elections.


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