Several voting machines have jammed today in St. Charles County, leading Director of Election Authority Rich Chrismer to call again for St. Charles County Council to approve his request to purchase new machines.
"We had three or four machines that aren't reading," he said. "Or the rollers are sticking."
The voting machines won't accept a ballot if they are worn out or if there is another error, Chrismer said. In those cases, voters put their ballot in the security slot on the side of the machine.
Once machines are fixed, a Democratic and a Republican election judge have to feed all of the ballots that were in the security slot into the machine so they can be read, Chrismer said.
"You may have 60 or 80 ballots in that security slot. Someone has called to complain that the judges were feeding ballots into the machine," Chrismer said. "That's a normal procedure but to a voter who votes every four years, it doesn't look good."
Chrismer said the Election Authority also received a report of a complaint to the Department of Justice that judges at Chapel of the Lake Church in Lake Saint Louis weren't requiring everyone to sign the ledgers.
Chrismer said he counted the signed ledgers -- and found 1,103 -- which matched exactly the number of ballots fed into the machine.
Purchase of new machines vetoed
Chrismer reiterated the need to replace the County's voting machines, saying that they are worn out. The electronic voting machines now in use were purchased in 2006 with a $1.5-million federal grant.
"I've been talking for a long time about these machines wearing out," Chrismer said. "The federal election authorities told us these machines only last 5 or 6 years."
Earlier this year County Executive Steve Ehlmann vetoed a $1.2 million voting machine purchase because only one company submitted a bid.
Chrismer said during the April election two machines failed to tabulate any ballots. Election judges had to hand-feed the 650 ballots cast at two different locations into a new machine, which led to delays in reporting the outcome.
The county won't know until after polls close at 7 p.m. whether the machines have recorded ballots correctly today.
If machines at two precincts fail tonight, "It'll be 10,000 ballots we'll have to feed through," he said. "It'll be a long night.