Voting machine failures in Nassau; voter roll dispute in Suffolk

A voter is given instruction on how to A voter is given instruction on how to use the new voting machine. (Nov. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Failure of many electronic voting machines hampered voting in Nassau County Tuesday, while in Suffolk a dispute broke out between a civil liberties group and county election officials over voter registration forms submitted under a new online system.

Nassau GOP Elections Commissioner Louis Savinetti said about 30 percent of optical scanners used to tally votes were malfunctioning. That forced voters to cast paper provisional ballots, which must be tallied by hand. "So it's going to be a long week to get results," Savinetti said.

Nassau Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte said the scanner problems were caused in part by heavy turnout. "It's significant," Biamonte said of turnout. "That's one of the reasons we are having so many problems."

Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello estimated that 50 percent of machines failed, either because they jammed or became full and could not accept any more ballots.

"It went absolutely terribly," said Mondello. "We have never had an election like this."

Suffolk election officials reported no scanner problems.

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Also Tuesday, the Brennan Center for Justice, a public interest group, said it received complaints that Suffolk election officials improperly rejected some voters' online registration applications.

Jesse Garcia, an aide to GOP Elections Commissioner Wayne Rogers, said the county received 3,200 applications in which a software error caused the voter's signature to be unreadable. After following up with those voters, officials were able to affirm and register all but 500 of them, Garcia said.

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