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Washington Area Avoids E-Voting Misery

By Robert MacMillan
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 3, 2004; 3:21 PM

Polling places across the Washington metropolitan region closed Tuesday night with no sign of the widespread problems with new voting technology that were predicted by some computer scientists and voting rights activists, though glitches were reported in Maryland and Virginia.

For the most part, area voters said that they were pleased with the machines because they were easier to use than punchcard or lever systems.

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"This is the computer age, so it's more comfortable just pushing the buttons," said Francis Akpan, 48, a medical student and resident of Takoma Park.

Reginald Hector, 33, of Adelphi, called the machines "very smooth, very cool."

Positive comments from most Maryland voters contrasted with warnings from the group TrueVoteMD.org, which unsuccessfully sued to get the State Board of Elections to outfit its touch-screen voting machines, manufactured by Diebold Election Systems, with voter-verifiable paper receipts by Election Day.

TrueVote co-founder and Takoma Park resident Linda Schade said voters reported hundreds of incidents across Maryland, including machines that failed to count votes.

Elementary school teacher and Silver Spring resident Lavelette White said that the machine she used denied her the opportunity to vote for her congressional candidate and school board picks. A precinct judge, she said, told her that she could not recast her vote, which successfully recorded her selection for president.

"I'm really upset. I feel as if my rights have been violated," she said.

Maryland elections supervisor Linda Lamone said that she had not heard about the incident, but said that it was probably human error.

She added that approximately 200 of the state's more than 16,000 machines were taken out of polling places during the day because of malfunctions. Officials will not be able to diagnose the problems until later this month after the final vote totals are tallied and recorded.

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