Ballot 'bleed-thru' not a problem, election official says

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by CYNTHIA VEGA and STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on November 2, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 2 at 9:46 PM

Poll:
Did you vote on Election Day?

DALLAS — There was a strong Election Day turnout reported across North Texas. But at least one Dallas citizen was concerned that his vote wouldn't count.

Theodore Smith said when he cast a paper ballot at the Park Central Baptist Church polling place Tuesday morning, he was given a "Sharpie" marker to fill in the ovals next to his preferred candidates.

But Smith was dismayed when he flipped over the two-sided ballot and saw the marks from page one bleeding through to the other side.

"I was just concerned that an electronic voting machine would be confused and think I voted twice," Smith said.

Dallas County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said there is no cause for alarm because the marking areas on each side of the ballot are specially offset so as not to interfere with the other side. So even if marks from one side bleed through, the scanner will not "see" them.

Sherbet said Dallas County has been successfully using the same paper ballot scheme for a dozen years, and he is confident in the system's accuracy.

There were also problems in Collin County, even before the polls opened. Election judges at three polling places made a mistake in how they set up the machines.

"Election officials inadvertently opened up the encoder machines and set them to 'election,' which means it became a voting machine," explained Collin County Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe. "As a result, they had no unit to encode a voter's card and prepare them for access into the voting booth."

Rowe said the problem was remedied quickly by sending technicians to the three locations.

There were other problems at the polls in Collin County. Laptop computers containing the list of registered voters suddenly froze up, giving election officials blank blue screens. But Rowe said those issues weer also resolved quickly.

E-mail cvega@wfaa.com and sstoler@wfaa.com

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