Broken Voting Machines, Ballot Scanners Hindering Voters 2018 Midterms

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
November 6, 2018US News

Broken machines and faulty ballot scanners are hindering voters in multiple states on Nov. 6.

Machines that issue voting cards went down at four different polling locations in Gwinnett County, Georgia, a county spokesman confirmed to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The cards that are issued by the machines also check in voters. The completed ballots are inserted into a different machine.

“Basically what it boils down to is the cards aren’t being issued for the electronic voting because of the issues (at the affected polling locations) right now,” the spokesman, Joe Sorenson, said, noting that the county was prepared with backup paper ballots that it’s been using while the machines are examined.

Poll workers later told WSB-TV that the issues were fixed at one location—Annistown Elementary School.

It’s wasn’t immediately clear whether the forced switch to paper ballots was the cause of long lines, although some purported to make that connection. Nationwide, voting is also happening at a higher level than in the recent midterm elections.

New York

Broken ballot scanners were seen in footage recorded by WABC around noon on Friday.

Derrick Waller took the video at Public School 117 in Briarwood in Queens, New York City.

“You can hear election workers banging on the machines. I’m told several, if not all, are out of service,” he said in a tweet.

Scanners in other locations were not working correctly, reported Pix 11, and voting machines were not as well.  Brooklyn voter Scott Teplin told the broadcaster he tried to vote twice but it didn’t work, and that he had to leave but vowed to return to his location, Public School 130 in Brooklyn, later in the day.

Another WABC reporter said that seven of the eight scanners were broken early Tuesday at Public School 103 in the Bronx. Four had been fixed by 11 a.m.

Voter Jennifer Gaston told NBC that she experienced long lines at Public School 22 and that machines were broken there.

“The lines were crazy and the staff was arguing,” she said. “[F]inally they told us that all of the machines were not working and that we should do an emergency ballot. What a mess.”

South Carolina

Another state experiencing problems was South Carolina, where some people who voted on Tuesday reported their votes were changed to the opposite party by electronic voting machines.

Richland County Elections Director Rokey Suleman said the problems were from a calibration issue and that officials were working on fixing it.

“If the calibration slips, you can touch it but the screen will select either above or below because of the calibration issue,” Suleman told The State.

One voter who said he witnessed his vote switch from the Republican he chose to a Democrat alerted workers, who said they canceled his vote and moved him to a different machine. The workers shut down the faulty machine.

Suleman said he didn’t know how widespread the issue was but noted that his staff technicians were “recalibrating pretty much all morning.”


Voters had to wait for hours to vote in Johnson County because of a sever issue.

The Johnson County Clerk’s Office told RTV 6 that the servers went down countywide, causing problems. A voting inspector told WTHR that it was taking 5 to 7 minutes just to get the voter’s name to come up on the poll booth.

The vendor was working on it, he said.

One voter told RTV she waited for three hours before finally being able to cast her ballot.

Rhode Island

The only voting machine on Prudence Island was experiencing a technical difficulty around 9 a.m.

“Voting machine on Prudence Island experienced a technical difficulty this morning. A replacement unit is on the ferry and will be installed shortly. Ballots are secured and voting is continuing uninterrupted,” the Rhode Island Board of Elections said via Twitter.

Shortly thereafter, the board said the problem was fixed. “The voting machine on Prudence Island has been successfully replaced and the polling place is operating normally. All ballots have been counted,” it said.

The island, with a population of around 88 people, sits in Narragansett Bay.

Previous Problems

The issues on Nov. 6 came after voters in at least two states—North Carolina and Texas—reported the troubles they encountered while casting early votes.

Voters told The News & Observer that their votes were switched, similar to the issue reported in South Carolina.

Pat Gannon, spokesman for the North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, told the outlet that officials get complaints every election and that the number this year is not abnormal.

“It is not widespread,” he said. “We get a few reports about this in each election.”

Election officials said old machines are to blame in some cases while in others voters have pressed the wrong button. They urged people to double-check their votes before submitting their ballots.

In Texas, old machines were also to blame, with the manufacturer noting that some machines are 15 years old.

“It’s very much like someone calling Apple and asking for support on their iPhone 1,” said Steven Sockwell, vice president of marketing at Hart InterCivic, the Austin-based company who made the machines, to the Texas Tribune.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said in a press release that his office was notified of less than 20 instances in which voters had problems with machines.

“The machine appeared to deselect or change one or more of their choices when they advanced to the summary page before casting their ballot. In each case, these voters were able to properly review and cast a ballot that accurately reflected the choices they made,” he said.

He said that the problem was caused by voters taking an action on the machine before it fully rendered all the choices resulting from the voter’s straight-party choice.

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.