Marion County Dems Decide Against Seeking Voting Extension

Parties Spar Over Trouble With Vote-Counting Machines

Democrats on Tuesday afternoon decided not to ask a court to keep polling places open later than 6 p.m. -- a move they had been considering because vote-counting machines weren't working at dozens of precincts in the morning.

Voters were able to fill out ballots at the problem precincts on the morning of Election Day, but the ballots had to be set aside until they could be counted by a properly working machine, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.

Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler said machines weren't working in dozens of precincts because poll workers didn't set them up properly. She said the set-up was in many cases too complex for the average, twice-a-year poll worker to handle in a timely manner.

Democratic county chairman Ed Treacy, alleging that the machine issues were disproportionately happening in Democratic areas of the county, was talking about seeking a court injunction to keep polls open past 6 p.m. Democrats eventually decided against that, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Voters whose ballots weren't immediately counted by machines were told the ballots would be counted later, leaving some voters concerned. Inspectors said there was no need to worry.

"Every vote is going to be counted, and I just want everyone to realize that," inspector Lisa Schultz said.

Election officials said the ballots would be locked and guarded until they would be manually fed into a machine and counted.

Officials at a Broad Ripple precinct said they encountered problems for about 90 minutes, but added that all of the votes were counted after the issues were fixed.

Problems affected more than 100 of Marion County's 914 precincts. Some of the problems could continue for much of the day, but ballots could still be cast.

County Democratic Chairman: 'Someone Needs To Go To Jail'

Democratic officials said Tuesday that they think problems at some Marion County precincts kept their supporters from casting votes. Republican officials agreed that difficulties existed, but disagreed that they were serious enough to extend voting hours.

Some of the problems centered around the reading of ballots.

Treacy said 20 polling places, all in Democratic areas, didn't open on time because poll workers didn't show up. Sadler, the county's clerk, said she had reports of only two precincts that opened late. She also refuted Treacy's contention that the machine problems happened in mostly Democratic areas, saying the difficulties affected all parts of the county.

Treacy said the problems were a result of Republicans failing to train poll workers. Directing poll workers was the responsibility of the Republicans because their party holds the secretary of state office.

However, Sadler countered that the machines are too complex, and that both parties agreed to purchase them. The machines were needed to comply with federal law on disabled voting.

"It was utter chaos this morning at polling places across the county and we're furious," Treacy read from a prepared statement. "We've been warning the Republican officials for weeks that huge problems were on the horizon, but they decided to ignore us, and they did nothing to prevent this mess.

"The Republicans need to be held accountable. Republicans have purposely screwed up this election in a desperate attempt to drive away our voters. In some cases, what the Republicans have been doing is downright criminal, and someone needs to go to jail."

Sadler said Treacy was trying to incite trouble by politicizing issues that were out of the control of election officials.

"We don't have a choice but to use these (touch screens). We have to make the best of it," Sadler said. "To start criticizing it and making an issue out of it when it didn't have voter impact, or at least didn't have any significant voter impact, is just trying to drum up a political issue that we don't need on a day like this."

Other counties in Indiana were using machines from the same company with little trouble on Tuesday. However, Sadler said the set-up in those counties was less complicated because they were using only touch-screen machines.

Sadler said Marion County was using both touch-screen machines -- for disabled people only -- and machines that scan paper ballots. Sadler said Marion County decided to go with the paper and scanning combination because it leaves a paper record. She said using both touch-screen machines and paper-scanning machines makes the set-up very complicated.

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