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Early voting starts with a few glitches; commissioners say they’re fixed

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James Brown
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WXXI

In the first-ever weekend of early voting in New York state, just under 3,000 people cast their ballots in Monroe County.

But some voters encountered some glitches with the electronic poll pads. Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Doug French said he was at Ogden Town Hall over the weekend and saw some issues.

“When we went to hit ‘print ballots,’ the poll print iPads from one table were trying to connect to the poll print iPads from another table,” said French.

The iPads were supposed to connect with specific printers. French said county poll workers had to troubleshoot and manually shut down all 105 iPads while voters were waiting. 

“I made an announcement to the voters that were there that, ‘We’ve run into a slight problem with printing the ballots.’ I said, ‘You’re welcome to stay and take a look as we power down the units, but I just don’t have a time period for you,’ ” said French.

French said it took about 15 minutes to update the iPads in Ogden. Despite this hiccup, French said that he’s confident that all votes were counted. Representatives from Knowink, the company whose software is used for the iPads, spent Saturday night at the Board of Elections testing center going through each machine to get them working correctly, he said. 

“We worked into the wee hours of the morning Sunday morning, but we got the fix that we needed,” said French. 

Since early voting is new to the state, Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Colleen Anderson said that she would have preferred more time to prepare and test the machines. But she said elections officials had to make do with a condensed time frame.

“The amount of time to prepare for this was really not long. Insufficient, I would say,” said Anderson. “Some people walked away frustrated, and I apologize greatly for that. People who have done it since then say it was a very easy process.”

French said the state didn’t approve machines for early voting until August, which left about a month and a half for Board of Elections commissioners to find, buy and test them. French and Anderson say the bipartisan Board of Elections staff received and tested the iPads about two weeks ago with no problems, although French said they didn’t test all the machines at once. 

“The issues we had are a little bit more extensive, so I think we’d have to sit down after (the election) and talk to our vendors as to why this happened,” said Anderson.

Anderson and French sat down Monday with Knowink representatives; French said the conversation went well and the machines are working countywide. 

The polls remain open for early voting until Sunday afternoon. If you haven’t voted by then, you still have time to vote on the regular Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5.

In Monroe County, here's where you can find early voting polling sites:

  • Greece Town Hall: 3 Vince Tofany Blvd.
  • Ogden Town Hall: 269 Ogden Center Road.
  • Monroe Community College Downtown Campus: 321 State St.
  • Penfield Town Hall: 3100 Atlantic Ave.
  • Marketplace Mall: 1 Miracle Mile Drive (north entrance, room 530).
  • SUNY Empire State College: 680 Westfall Road.
  • Ridge Culver Plaza: 2255 East Ridge Road.

And here are the dates and times that early voting will be available at any of the above sites:

  • Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29.
  • Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30.
  • 7 a.m.to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.
  • 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1.
  • 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.
  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3.