More local residents claim issues with electronic voting machines; Are they accurate?

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by Russell Kinsaul / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 26 at 6:19 PM

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) -- News 4 is getting responses from several local viewers after a woman said her voting machine malfunctioned when she voted absentee in St. Louis County this week.

The woman claimed she voted for one candidate, but the machine showed she’d voted for another. After that story aired on News 4, several others have said they’ve also had problems while voting.

Now many voters in the area are wondering about the accuracy of electronic voting  machines.

Hundreds of people use the machines everyday to vote absentee in St. Louis County. Before any machine is used, it has to be calibrated. St. Louis County officials said the calibrations happen every day, including Election Day.

But Director of Elections Rita Heard-Days says the machines have another important safeguard. Missouri law states all voting machines in Missouri must have a paper backup.

“We encourage people to make sure it’s recording exactly as you vote,” said Heard-Days.

St. Louis County’s machines are never connected to the internet to protect them from viruses or any attempts to hack into them.

One concern is how the memory cards used in the voting machines are protected before the election so no one tampers with them.

To alleviate any worries, they are locked in a room with two locks that take a Democrat and a Republican to unlock. Inside the room there’s always a Democrat and a Republican present and the room has an alarm and motion sensors.

After the election there needs to be an audit of the machines to make sure the number of voters counted by the machines and the election judges match up.

“And we’re very proud of the fact we have not had any problems with our audits at all,” said Heard-Days.

Besides calibrating them, machines are put through a standardized test to make sure they count votes properly. That’s open for the public to watch and will happen next week.

County officials say they’ve tried to think of every safeguard. But if you spot a problem, the Election Protection Coalition is tracking electronic voting issues. You can report the problem at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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