The Rapidian

Computer issues cause voting delays for some voters in Precinct 3-76

Some early voters in Ward 3 Precinct 76 encountered computer issues when arriving to vote in the 8:00 hour.

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Marie Holtrop, Chairperson of Precinct 3-76 in today's election proceedings

Marie Holtrop, Chairperson of Precinct 3-76 in today's election proceedings /Eric Tank

Polling officials, unable to access the computer system, struggled to process voters for a short time this morning in Ward 3, Precinct 76, at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church (514 Eastern Avenue SE).

Marie Holtrop, chairperson of Precinct 3-76, says that they were not able to access the computer program necessary to process voters. Administrators were called in to assist with the problem and the issue has now been resolved. It appears there were multiple issues at play. First, the "caps lock" key was inadvertently left on, making the case-sensitive encryption password not function. Second, the encryption request should have only appeared in the first sign-in of the morning. Computers are now up and functioning properly, and voting is running smoothly, says Holtrop.

"So something is wrong, but it's taken care of," she says. Holtrop says two voters arrived while the computer problems were happening. The first, she says, will return later, and the issue was resolved before the second voter departed.

This is the first time that 3rd Ward polling locations are using just a computer system, rather than dual systems. Holtrop says there was a training in August, to ensure that everyone knew how to use the computer systems and that everything was working correctly.

Holtrop says there is always a way for voters to submit their ballots even if the computer isn't working. 

"I asked about that when I called downtown [this morning]," says Holtrop. "All we had to do is take the name down, and keep the application of course and the ballot number, so that that can all be put in afterwards."

"Oh yes, people can always vote. In our training, that's what they tell us," says Holtrop. "The elections are about the voters."

Sarah Scott, the first of the two registered voters arriving during the computer problems, says she was not able to use a paper ballot, or given a provisional ballot

"I went to the polls at about 8:35am, and waited for approximately 15-20 minutes while the polling officials tried to work the new computerized voting system," says Scott. "They were very kind and apologetic, but I had to get to my job and they couldn't figure out how to make the new system work. There were no paper lists for me to be checked in at, so I had to leave. I'll come back after work, but it was frustrating, for sure."

Scott's main concern, she says, is how this affects others in her same situation.

"To be clear, they didn't turn me away. I chose to leave because of time constraints. But still," says Scott. "What about people who won't come back? I just happen to be hell-bent."

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