Computer glitch hampers votinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Computer glitch hampers voting Backup paper ballots delayed; rally held by Gore backers
By Bill Dries
The Commercial Appeal
Computer problems stopped and then slowed balloting at all 19 of the county's early voting sites Saturday afternoon, forcing the Election Commission to ship in supplies of paper ballots for voters or tell them to come back later.
Saturday was the first day for early voting at 18 satellite locations across the county, in advance of the March 14 presidential and county primaries.
The problems, which also affected early voting at Election Commission headquarters downtown, began around 2 p.m., said Election Commission chairman O. C. Pleasant, and affected computer software that prints online ballots for a specific voter's district. The district races on the ballot are the contests for Republican presidential delegates, which are divided by congressional district.
In addition to the computer problem, a variety of paper ballots printed for use as a backup system were not available "which surprised . . . me, to be honest," Pleasant said.
After getting the paper ballots, the voting sites were able to handle voters although at a slower pace than the computer technology would have allowed had it worked properly.
"We identified the problem but were afraid to deal with a fix until after the satellites closed," Pleasant said late Saturday afternoon as he stressed that no votes were lost in the computer turmoil.
Early voting resumes Monday at 9 a.m. at all 19 locations and ends Thursday at 3 p.m.
Computer technicians would work through the weekend to fix the problem, he added.
"We've told them that if it takes all weekend, they'll be working on it - whatever it takes to make it right," Pleasant said.
Meanwhile, a group of 50 chilly supporters of Vice President Gore waved signs and voted early en masse downtown Saturday morning to kick off the presidential campaign's local effort.
The Gore supporters brought plenty of signs but some also wore T-shirts and stickers from other local campaigns as they looked for sunny spots on a cold morning.
Among the Gore supporters on the sidewalk outside Election Commission headquarters were local Democratic Party chairman David Cocke and Mayor Willie Herenton.
"This demonstrates to the nation that the hometown state of the Vice President - and the next president of the United States - will give a resounding vote of confidence to Al Gore," Herenton told the sign-waving crowd before leading them inside to vote.
The Gore effort was the only campaign so far to bring a group of supporters in to cast their ballots.
Local candidates on the ballot are not investing in the buses and vans used in elections with higher turnouts.
State Sen. Tom Leatherwood, who is running in the GOP primary for Shelby County Property Assessor, said early voting presents some timing challenges. Early voting at the Election Commission began Feb. 23.
"You've got three starting dates. It's almost like three little campaigns - identifying who those people are that are going to vote during those three different periods, how are you going to get in touch with them and how much do you utilize to get in touch with them," he said.
Leatherwood said his campaign will call supporters to urge them to vote early and mail out postcards with early voting locations.
"I wouldn't have anything against (buses or vans)," Leatherwood said in a recent interview. "It's just manpower."
-- cheryl (email@example.com), March 05, 2000