Park County voting smooth after fixing minor glitch in voting machine clocks

2010-11-02T14:59:00Z 2010-11-02T17:07:50Z Park County voting smooth after fixing minor glitch in voting machine clocksRUFFIN PREVOST Gazette Wyoming Bureau The Billings Gazette
November 02, 2010 2:59 pm  • 

CODY, Wyo. — Turnout in Park County has been brisk at times as voters cast ballots today for a new governor and a host of local officials. So far, the only minor hiccup at polling places was an unexpected trip back in time for election judges setting up Tuesday morning.

“Machines had been preprogrammed to change time last week, which is usually when daylight saving time changes, but not this year,” said Park County Clerk Kelly Jensen.

That meant that dozens of reports printed out by election judges starting their shifts showed the time as an hour earlier than it really was.

Jensen said the machines were incorrectly programmed for the change by Election Systems & Software, a company that contracts with most counties in Wyoming to provide ballot tabulators. The company did not inform election officials around the state of the programmed time change.

County clerks around the state experienced the same problem, but quickly shared information on how to fix the problem, Jensen said.

By early afternoon, turnout was brisk, but coming in waves, said election judge Ann Flack, one of dozens of volunteers who spend hours each election day staffing polling places around Park County.

Some voters had to wait briefly in line this morning before casting ballots, judges said.

Election officials are expecting an estimated total of about 3,700 absentee ballots to be returned by the end of the day.

That would be about 10 percent fewer absentee ballots than were sent in for the 2008 presidential election, Jensen said. If those early voting numbers translate to overall turnout, it would be an unusually high figure for a mid-term election, in keeping with the strong primary election turnout in August.

Flack said that many voters weren’t shy about sharing their views with her as they cast ballots, and that their comments have largely matched the restless sentiment heard nationwide.

“‘Vote Republican’ and ‘It’s time for a change’ are both things I’ve heard quite a bit,” she said.

More than two-thirds of Park County voters are registered Republicans.

“I would just caution that things can’t necessarily be fixed overnight,” said Cody resident Andy Quick as he waited to vote at the Cody Auditorium.

“You don’t go to the doctor with a longtime ailment and expect to be cured overnight, and the same thing shouldn’t be expected of the national economy,” he said.

Wyoming law requires that employers give workers one hour of paid time off, other than meal breaks, to vote on Election Day.

Polls are open until 7 p.m.

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