Published in the Home News Tribune 11/30/00
consensus, perhaps the only consensus, out of Florida is that voting must
21st century. No more chads - dimpled, hanging or otherwise.
I wrote how Middlesex County has a wonderfully modern system in which voters
press a square next to a candidate's name on a computer screen. The square lights up, and votes
are recorded on a cartridge. Every time the machine results have been used for recounts in
Middlesex County, the recount has always duplicated the original.
never lost a vote," said Andrew Wynham, a spokesman for Sequoia Pacific
Voting Machines, the manufacturer.
all depends on what the definition of lost is, based on what happened in
District 3 in
the Kingston section of South Brunswick, where lights did not work properly. When election
officials on the scene learned of the problem, they contacted Richard Plantec, the supervisor
of the Middlesex County Election Board's voting-machine warehouse in Edison. He
immediately sent a replacement.
end of the day, cartridges from both machines were sent to the county clerk,
printouts were given to the major party challengers at the polling place, including Dr. Paul
Murray, who noticed something odd.
could choose two freeholder candidates, and most voters chose running mates.
countywide count, Democrats John Pulomena and Jim Polos got 140,223 and 134,798
votes, respectively. Republicans Hank Grabarz and Carl Perlin got 81,675 and 78,846.
the the machine that failed, Polos got 22 and running mate Pulomena got
0. Perlin got
27 and Grabarz 0. The odds that all 65 voters voted for only Polos and Perlin, and not their
running mates, are beyond astronomical.
there was a problem with the machine, Plantec immediately checked the
contested 12th Congressional District race. There Republican Dick Zimmer got 29 votes and
Democrat Rush Holt got 28 votes. No problem.
Then he saw the 0's in the freeholder race.
something's wrong," said Plantec, who cannot locate the problem while machines
used in the Zimmer-Holt race are still impounded.
It remains true, said Wynham, that Sequoia Pacific "has never lost a vote."
(in the freeholder count) is votes were never cast. You can't lose a vote
you cast a vote," he said.
They were never cast because there was a machine failure. Never cast. Lost. Same difference.
Wynham allowed that failure happens.
"If someone tells you a piece of equipment will never fail, don't believe them," said Wynham.
that as soon as election monitors learn of a problem, they are instructed
down the machine and offer absentee ballots until a replacement arrives.
to Murray, there were no absentee ballots available. Voters were told to
wait for the replacement from the Edison warehouse or come back later.
of swearing at the system, as officials are doing in Florida, officials
County swear by them.
a 21st century system," said Robert Reck, chairman of the county Board
But a pair of zeros in Kingston proves no machine is infallible.
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