Free at last: voting machines get new innards, lease on life
BERRYVILLE -- The 17 electronic voting machines that have been held hostage since the May primary because of a legal challenge, were finally set free Wednesday.
Members of the Carroll County Election Commission wheeled them out of the vault at the county clerk's office and across the street to a storage building.
There, under the supervision of election commission members and volunteer Bob Tetu, (a group consisting of two Democrats and two Republicans), the flash cards, paper scrolls and Personal Electronic Ballots (PEBs) were removed from the machines, one at a time, and placed in individual labeled envelopes that were returned to the vault.
New PEBs, flash cards and paper scrolls were installed, and batteries were charged in preparation for a public test of the machines on Monday.
Election Commissioner Levi Phillips said all candidates had been notified by mail of the test, including state, county, and municipal office seekers.
He also noted that public testing of the machines takes up to two weeks in some counties. "We'll run until we're done," he said.
In other business, Phillips reported that early voting started on time, with both electronic voting machines and paper ballots available.
"It's going very well," he said. "We've had a couple of poll watchers, we've got plenty of ballots and we're up to speed."
He complimented Election Coordinator Cathy Ellis, saying because of her knowledge "she got us way ahead."
Of the 140 absentee ballots mailed out, he said nearly a third had been returned already, including one overseas military ballot.
Complaints regarding the use of the Victoria Inn for voting in the Eureka Springs area were discussed.
The commission received two written complaints previously, and another two were brought to the table at Wednesday's meeting.
The authors of the recent complainants suggested finding a public facility, such as a school, for a voting site, instead of the privately-owned Victorian Inn.
It was noted that neither were registered to vote at the Victorian Inn.
Election Commissioner Levi Phillips said there was "difficulty finding voting facilities" and there were "not enough public facilities."
Commissioner David Hoover said he read in area newspapers that Springdale and Fayetteville election commissioners were being challenged for utilizing schools as voting sites.
Reportedly, the intermixing of students and voters posed a security risk, parking was a problem and there were handicapped accessible issues, he said.
Elections are always held on days when students are in school, Phillips added, saying voting would interfere with student activities.
"The time frame makes it moot," commented Commissioner Joe Goforth, referring to the requirement that voters must receive a change of location notification 30 days prior to an election.