JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some voters headed to the polls in Jacksonville experienced a delay after an electronic registration verification system crashed and poll workers had to consult a paper printout of all Duval County voters before handing out ballots.
All 199 precincts had to revert to a paper printout to check voters' registration. Elections officials originally thought they could get all the electronic terminals reset in a few hours, but the fix didn't make it to all precincts until after 4:30 p.m.
"I will tell you the poll workers, this was a bad day for them," Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said. "And I really feel bad for them. They had to go back to the old system, and they had to do it on the fly. So we are very proud of them."
According to Hogan, a small software error affected the validation machines. The new technology, which allows poll workers to swipe a voter's driver's license to check their registration, was introduced in 2014.
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"We had a backup plan for everything," Hogan said. "This one is not that critical because it has nothing to do with vote tabulation. In fact, most of the voters, if they didn't vote in 2014 or 2015, have never even seen any of it."
Hogan reported that 30 technicians were sent out to repair the machines. It is a quick fix, according to Hogan, but because there are 199 sites with four to eight machines at each site, it took several hours to get the majority of the machines were back in use.
Hogan said each machine was also tested by the technicians to make sure it was working again before it was put back into service.
"We were testing it before we went live this morning when we discovered the problem," Hogan said.
Despite the glitch most voters said they had no problems and were able to get in and out of their precincts in only a few minutes.
"I came in. They had friendly smiles. They found where I was supposed to go, and it took like 60 seconds," voter Roger Pancoast said.
"It went so smooth, the only trouble I had was deciding who I was going to vote for," Joe Tomlinson said.
The supervisors of elections in St. Johns and Clay counties said they also use the EVID systems and had no issues with the machines in their counties Tuesday.
"It's a good learning experience for us," Hogan said. "We will get with our vendor and make sure whatever the problem was with our server their data, we will make sure that it's fixed."
A few voters in Duval County had trouble because they showed up at the wrong precinct. Election officials reminded voters to double-check their current precincts before heading out to vote. And poll workers had to turn away voters registered as independents or with smaller parties, as only Republicans and Democrats could cast ballots in the party presidential primaries.
“They may have been NPA’s, non-party affiliations, that may have expected that they could vote, but the fact is that Florida law does not permit them to vote," Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said.
Orange County also experienced data glitches and got permission for Gov. Rick Scott to extend voting at several precincts by one hour. The affected precincts are in cities where municipal elections are also being held. These included the cities of Apopka, Belle Isle, Maitland, Ocoee, Winter Park and Windermere.
"A data glitch caused the number of ballots printed for each party to be transposed with nonpartisan ballots for the municipal elections," Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said. "We have heard of issues from about a dozen of the 251 precincts in Orange County, and those locations have already received or are currently receiving an adequate number of additional ballots."