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Conn. Election Officials Work Around Jammed Ballot Scanners

Vote Stickers
Matt Rourke
High voter turnout and human error meant several ballots waited to be counted while tabulator machines were repaired.

Several voters in Connecticut told local election officials they couldn’t watch their vote be counted because of jammed ballot scanners. Matt Wagner is the Registrar of Voters in Fairfield. He says he and the town clerk decided to place a bulk order of absentee and normal ballots to save money. Wagner says he sent leftover, pre-folded absentee ballots to the polls and they are jamming the machines. “It was done in good faith and it is inconveniencing some of our poll workers at the polling place as they fix jams more often, and I think we’ll have a conversation among ourselves about whether that inconvenience is worth 15 or 20 thousand dollars.” Wagner says votes are secured by both Democrat and Republican poll workers while they wait to be counted. He says people who filled out ballots with complimentary pencils should not worry about the security of their ballots. "Scanners are mechanical, so jams are normal," Gabe Rosenberg, spokesperson with the Secretary of the States office, says. However, he says every polling place is required to have a backup machine, ever since wet ballots jammed scanners in the 2018 election for Governor. "If both machines are broken, voters should be able to slide their ballots in the auxiliary slot in side of tabulator, where ballots are locked." Rosenberg says all those ballots locked in the auxiliary slot should be hand counted by the end of the night. The Joan Ives-Parisi, the Republican Registrar in Wallingford, says jammed scanners caused delays from about 6:30 to 8:00 in the morning at Rock Hill Elementary School. "People were asked to put ballots in the auxiliary bin," Ives-Parisi says, "When the machine was up working the two registrars one Democrat and Republican poll worker took those ballots and fed them into the tabulator and it got counted and finally functioning by 8am. " Ives-Parisi confirmed the voter turnout was so high at the Dag Hammarskjold School polling place that the auxiliary bin filled up before the tabulator could be fixed. She says poll workers used a secure ballot bag to collect votes until the machine was up and running again. This story was produced with ProPublica’s Electionland Tip Line. Go to wshu.org to leave a tip.