By Jim Hulen-NorthMyrlteBeachOnline.com
North Myrtle Beach January 20,2008—Walter Krieger, Poll Manager at the Cherry Grove Precinct, said, “The story [about today’s primary election] is going to be about the large number of voting machines that failed to work, not just the primary results. Don’t bother trying to contact Horry County Election Officials, their phones are clogged.”
The South Carolina Election Commission web site says that 15 to 20 of the precincts in Horry County were affected, however anecdotal information says the problem was much more widespread.
However, Cherry Grove II’s machines were up and working and steadily recording the ballots of voters.
The Election Commission blames the problem on human error in preparing the machines for the primary.
Before every election, all voting machines are tested to make sure they are operating correctly. One way this is done is by casting test votes on the machine to be sure it is recording them accurately. The final step in this process is to perform a "clear and test" procedure. This resets the test votes recorded on the machine to zero. Without performing this measure, the voting system will not allow machines to be opened for voting on Election Day. Horry County voting machine technicians worked throughout the morning and early afternoon to visit these affected precincts and perform this procedure.
Historically, Cherry Grove II has among the highest voter turnout rate – around 30% of registered voters, and by 3:00 pm yesterday it was on its way with 25% having voted and all on voting machines. Statewide, the SC Election Commission reports a 17% turnout.
Incidentally, John McCain won the primary with 33.2% of the vote to Mike Huckabee’s 29.8%, Fred Thompson’s 15.7% and Mitt Romney’s 15.2%.
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