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LI's voting machines: One day in the counting process

Suffolk County began its audit of 3 percent of the new electronic voting machines last Monday to see that the printout of voting results matches exactly the number of votes cast for each candidate. It is a long, slow process. Here's a look at how it went on Thursday.

At 8 a.m., a large black box - the container from one voting machine - was rolled to the front of a storage room at the Suffolk Board of Elections vast warehouse in Yaphank. Each box held blue containers filled with hundreds of ballots.

Every ballot has 23 separate lines for candidates, from the governor to Congress to State Supreme Court justice.

More than 20 people - eight Republicans and eight Democrats to do the counting, others to record and tabulate their totals - examined every vote, and compared the totals to the total shown on an election machine printout, which is twice as long as an average man is tall.

Each counting team took only a few seconds to look at a ballot and mark the winner. And each team took only a few minutes to go through the 30 or 40 ballots they were checking. But there are 24 separate columns to count on each ballot, and an expected 300 to 600 ballots in each machine.

So, it took several hours to get through all the ballots. There are 43 machines to be checked.

The count was completed by midafternoon and the machine, which had been at the Arrowhead School in East Setauket, is repacked, and wheeled out.

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