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NC Election Directors Urge Voters To Check Their Ballots After Touchscreen Mistakes

Voting Machines
Flickr / Phil Roeder

County elections directors are urging voters to double-check their ballots after some early voters complained of mistakes.

Some voters in Guilford County have found errors when reviewing their ballots before submitting them — namely that they meant to vote for a candidate of one party, but the machine marked their ballot for the other candidate.

Elections Director Charlie Collicut said the problem comes from the election machines’ touch screens. As some voters touched the screen, it would select the name above or below the candidate they actually wanted.

“It’s a machine that we have to calibrate — that a human being has to calibrate,” Collicut said, pointing out that the process isn’t perfect.

He instructed voters to try pressing a millimeter above or below the candidate name until the correct box is checked.

But, he said, there’s a process in place for voters to make sure their ballot reflects who they actually wanted to vote for that includes three checkpoints: First, a big neon green check mark next to the candidate they’ve selected. Then, voters can look at a real-time paper audit of their selection process, which will tell them who they’ve selected or de-selected while voting. Finally, voters are asked to review and confirm their entire ballot before pressing submit.

“I want voters to be aware of that process so they can be confident that their vote is being counted accurately,” Collicut said.

If the touchscreen doesn’t allow voters to select their desired candidate, Collicut said they should notify a precinct officer who will move them to a different voting machine and then immediately recalibrate the touchscreen.

Collicut said voters have notified him of the touchscreen issues, but have said precinct officers ultimately moved them to a machine that helped them cast an accurate ballot. Only about four voters said they felt like a wrong vote was ultimately submitted and, he said, they are not able to re-vote.

Mecklenburg County Elections Director Michael Dickerson said touchscreen issues arise every year. He’s received a handful of calls from voters, but said it’s “nothing major.”

He said that’s why precincts put signs on every voting machine, reminding people that they are operating a touch screen and to verify every selection.

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.