ANDERSON — The new voting machines used in the municipal election Tuesday in Madison County performed with only a few glitches, election officials said.
Sporadic problems occurred when some of the machines failed to print a person’s vote on a paper ballot before being counted. And, in Alexandria, some voters complained that the dividers between machines didn’t provide enough privacy. Others in Alexandria were bothered because they were asked to declare a political party choice before voting.
The turnout Tuesday was higher than what had been projected by party leadership, with the strongest voter participation taking place in Pendleton, where town council races were hotly contested.
About 28% of the eligible 48,861 registered voters in Madison County cast a ballot, including those who voted early and those who went to the polls Tuesday.
Dave McMullen, the poll site judge in two Fall Creek Township precincts, said he likes the new voting system and knew of no complaints from voters.
Jay Richards in Anderson’s Ward 3 said he preferred the new system because of the presence of a paper ballot to serve as a backup in case a recount was requested.
Kelly Wood, poll inspector at the Pendleton Community Center, said there was some confusion regarding straight party voting.
“Some of the language on the straight party thing is confusing. I don’t think it’s very clear,” he said. “I like that they’re basically printers and the vote counts when it goes in the tabulator. Now we can just pull the ballot and say, ‘Here’s your second chance to do it right.’ As long as it doesn’t go in the machine, we’re good.”
In Alexandria, site of mayoral and clerk-treasurer races, the voting machine setup at Eagles Aerie 1771, where all the precincts were sent to vote, was a point of discussion among voters.
Though the hall is large enough to easily accommodate the five precincts separately, all the machines were placed in the northeast corner of the building. In addition, some voters complained that the dividers didn’t create enough privacy for voting.
Doug and Pam Smith were among those annoyed by the arrangement.
“They clumped all the voting things together, so it’s more congested, and you have no privacy,” Pam Smith said. “The dividers don’t even cover the machine. I could see what my neighbors were voting for.”
“They don’t even give clear instructions where you need to go,” Doug Smith said.
Some voters also were annoyed by the process, which more resembled a primary election requiring them to first select a party before they were allowed to vote in contested races.
First-time voter Connor Remington, the son of Democratic clerk-treasurer candidate Angie Remington, wasn’t bothered by the voter setup in Alexandria.
“I didn’t know that much about it, honestly,” he said. “It was a cool experience, I guess.”