Elections director: St. Charles voting machine problems could have been avoided

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 7 at 5:34 PM

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV) – A day after more than 100 people had problems with voting machines at three precincts in St. Charles County, the head of the election authority said the issue could have been avoided altogether.

 

The problems occurred when voting machines at the precincts stopped accepting ballots. The ballots were eventually counted after they were held inside the voting machine until election judges were able to fix it.

But Rich Chrismer, St. Charles County elections director, told News 4 that he been asking for help for years because of problems that occur each year with the aging machines. The voting machines have been used for dozens of elections.

“Out of 121 precincts, that’s not bad, but I prefer all my machines to work, and they have in the past,” said Chrismer.

Chrisman saved money and asked the county in October of 2010 to buy new voting machines.

“I put out the bid.  It was voted on by the county council to buy the machines and the county executive vetoed it,” Chrismer said.

That county executive was Steve Ehlmann, who said he was protecting the taxpayers.

“This has nothing to do with Mr. Chrismer, it has to do with the council and my obligation to make sure that we have a proper bidding process and guarantee that the taxpayers don’t get ripped off,” Ehlmann said.

Ehlmann said there was only one bid for the new machines and he will not approve the expense until he gets another.

“The last thing we wanted to do was spend $1.2 million and find out a year later we could have had them for half that much,” he said.

As it stands, only one company is federally and state certified to make the machines, but that should not last long.

Chrismer said the current machines will not last long either.

“They will not hold up for another major election, guaranteed,” he said.

Ehlmann said it was worth the inconvenience to make sure the money is well spent.

 

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