State Officials to Examine Election Machine Problems - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Little Rock, AR

State Officials to Examine Election Machine Problems

MAY 23, 2006 - Posted at 5:01 p.m. CST


LITTLE ROCK, AR - Secretary of State Charlie Daniels says once today's election is over, state officials will talk with a voting machine coordinator about why machines weren't ready earlier in the process.

Four Arkansas counties still didn't have federally-mandated voting machines in place for the start of regular polling in today's primary vote.

The state entered into a $15 million contract with Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software to provide new electronic machines to 72 of Arkansas' 75 counties.  Three counties already had machines that comply with the federal Help America Vote Act.

The electronic machines can read ballots out loud for disabled people, one of the requirements of the act.

But technical problems led election officials in Desha, Jefferson, Sebastian and Stone counties to drop the machines and use older systems.

Company spokeswoman Jill Friedman-Wilson says the problems are related to the fact that it's a new system.  She also said the nationwide implementation of the Help America Vote Act put a great deal of strain on the company.

The firm hass over 100 technicians in Arkansas today to help with problems.

It's unclear whether the voting machine problems mean that Arkansas is in violation of federal law.  Daniels didn't comment on the issue, and Department of Justice spokesman Eric Holland wouldn't comment either.

The Justice Department has sued two states, Alabama and New York, for not complying with the law.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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