NORTH CLAYTON - North Clayton Township poll workers persevered in conducting the August 14, 2018 Wisconsin Partisan Primary Election despite challenges presented by the failure of both of their electronic voting machines. The failure resulted in some voters waiting up to an hour to vote, while the polling location staff obtained more paper ballots.
“I usually staff the polling place in the mornings, but switched my shift to attend a funeral,” poll worker Margaret Davidson reported. “When I arrived at 2 p.m., I learned that the first voting machine had failed due to a broken knob. They had set the other one up at 10 a.m., and then part way through a citizen voting, that machine quit working too.”
Davidson said that the polling location staff quickly scrambled to create additional copies of the paper ballots to allow the vote to go forward. It was in waiting for additional paper ballots to be created that delays to some citizens were experienced.
“We don’t typically need so many paper ballots, so we had to do our best to get them made up as quickly as possible,” Davidson reported. “At one point, there were 12 people waiting, but everyone was very patient.”
Davidson also reported that because most of the votes were cast using the paper ballots, it had taken them longer to count the votes that night. She shared that the votes that were cast using the second machine were able to be counted in the final count.
Crawford County Clerk Janet Geisler said that her office has the cartridges from Clayton Township’s two failed voting machines in her vault in Prairie du Chien.
“As soon as possible, we will send the cartridges back to the company for an assessment and repair,” Geisler said. “But, in talking with the vendor, we have determined that the failure of the first machine was caused by human error, and we’re not sure yet why the second machine failed.”
Geisler reported that the vendor, when contacted, said that no one from Clayton Township had contacted them.
“We can’t keep having problems like this,” Geisler said. “The company told me that if Clayton Township had contacted them, they could have helped.”
In the past, the Crawford County Clerk’s office has held a training for municipal poll workers to be trained in use of the voting machines.
“I think we need to consider finding a way for Clayton Township poll workers to receive additional training in use of the machines,” Geisler said. “We take all the security steps we’re required to take, and we’re doing all we can. We’ll always have paper ballots available, though.”