The Suburbanite
  • Stark County’s voting machines still wet

  • Stark elections officials say all but 10 suffered at least some water damage during spring storm.

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  • Almost all of Stark County’s touch-screen voting machines could be destined for a scrap yard.
    Local elections officials say all but 10 of 1,393 units stored in a warehouse suffered at least some water damage when a roof collapsed during a storm in early April.
    An insurance adjuster had already written off 735 units as unusable. However, in the last two weeks, employees of the county Board of Elections discovered further problems, or potential future concerns, with almost all of the remaining units.
    More than 300 were found to have water spots on them and “wavy” display screens. Another 247 had water spots. Others failed a calibration or function test.
    “It means even if it wasn’t a direct splash (of water), there was condensation coming up from below,” Jeff Matthews, director of the elections board, told the board Tuesday afternoon.
    He questioned the long-term reliability of any unit, given all the moisture that appears to have invaded them.
    “I can’t tell you how long until you get a corrosive attack ... but the clock is ticking,” he said.
    The roof collapse, caused by a clogged drain roof at its office on Third Street NE, forced the Board of Elections to rent similar replacement touch-screen units for the May 7 primary.
    The insurer has already reimbursed that $258,000 expense.
    Board members asked Matthews to provide the new findings to the county administrator and commissioners, who ultimately hold the insurance policy that covers the event.
    Meanwhile, voters again may have to cast ballots on leased units in the Nov. 5 general election. Eventually, the elections board members will have to decide on a permanent solution.
    The Board bought more than 1,400 Diebold-made AccuVote-TSX touch-screen machines in 2005, to replace punch-card ballots. The county’s machines cost $3.9 million, and were purchased by the state with federal Help America Vote Act dollars.
    Reach Tim at 330-580-8333 or
    On Twitter: @tbotosREP

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