There were a few glitches, but overall Deborah Marshall - the executive director of the Columbia County Board of Elections - said she was pleased with the performance of the county's new electronic voting equipment.
Voters' comments on the new machines
Richard Boone: "I think it was great. It was simple to use. I was able to review how I voted. I think it's better."
Marlene Lane: I thought it was great. Now it's up to the machines to calculate the votes.
Muriel Cooper: I think it's much easier than the punch ballots.
Jessie Ozmelek: "It was much easier and I was able to review it. It's pretty simple, really."
Nancy Lundy: "When you did punch, you didn't have to say to yourself, 'did I punch the right thing?' This way, you could go back and check it.
Sam Crawford: "I think it's wonderful. I could sit down and play with it all day. I like this better. It's easier to understand and if you make a mistake you can go back and correct it."
Lucille Loveridge: "I loved it. It just seemed so easy. It was very simple."
Matilde Pettengill: "It's very simple, very easy and very easy to fix mistakes if I changed my mind. The equipment worked very well. Now there's no excuse to not vote. It's so easy a child could manipulate it.
"We had a few problems at a couple of our precincts where the machine went low on memory, but all we had to do was cut the machine off and re-boot it and it was fine," Marshall said. "Other than that, the machines worked wonderfully."
Voters seemed to agree.
"I think it's wonderful," said Sam Crawford. "I could sit down and play with it all day. I like this better. It's easier to understand and if you make a mistake you can go back and correct it."
Crawford, like many other voters in the county, had the opportunity to play with the machines before they got down to business on election day.
The county had 14 teams to cover the county, toting the new machines to grocery stores, discount stores and other gathering places for voters to practice before the main event.
"They did an outstanding job and covered 119 sites - some twice," said Marshall. "From Sept. 9 until Oct. 28, we had that machine set up somewhere in the county."
Bel Air poll worker Gary Judy said the program paid off.
"It worked perfectly," he said. "The hardest thing for people was inserting the card. After that, it's all a breeze."
As expected, lines were long in some precincts. Marshall had asked for more voting machines, but the county commission denied her request. Marshall believes too few machines, the large voter turnout and a laundry list of amendments slowed voting, causing long lines and long waits at some precincts.
"What really slowed down the lines was the amendments," she said. "When you have to stop and read the amendments, it takes more time and that happens in every election."
There were 246 machines at the 37 precincts and she had wanted at least 200 more.
"We had a lot of complains about long lines, people having to wait hours," Marshall said. "One lady said she had to wait an hour and 15 minutes. Normally in the general election we put out twice as many but we didn't have any more machines to put out. Maybe in the 2004 election we can get more machines."
Tabulating the votes was easy too, she said. The memory card from each precinct was inserted into the server and the totals were uploaded to the secretary of state's office.
Though there may have been crabbing over long lines, there were few complaints about the way the new voting machines operated.
"The equipment worked very well," said Matilde Pettengill, a naturalized citizen for the past 11 years. "Now there's no excuse to not vote. It's so easy a child could manipulate it."
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