Widespread electronic voting machines problems hit South Carolina’s seaside towns Saturday, causing election officials to enlist sheriff’s deputies to rush additional paper ballots to polling places, according to Horry County Republican Party officials.
The officials said they were confident that nearly every person who wanted to vote was able to cast a ballot. “People who came in to vote, when the machines were down, they had paper ballots,” said Robert Rabon, the chairman of the Horry County GOP. “If they happen to be out of paper ballots they will take their name and call them when they have paper ballots again.”
Rabon said that in Surfside Beach he visited one precinct where about five people had left their phone numbers, so they could be notified when additional paper ballots arrived. “There might have been an occurance where someone didn’t want to vote on paper ballots,” Rabon added. “I can’t imagine why.”
Another party official in Horry County, which includes the Myrtle Beach area, said that the problem started at the break of day. “The machines just did not work–almost all of them,” says Cleo Steele, the executive committeewoman for the Republican Party in Horry County, which includes Myrtle Beach. “I am covering 10 precincts, and out of the 10 precincts only two opened up at 7 o’clock.”
She said she was confident that all voters would have a chance to vote. “Nobody has been turned away,” Steele said.
UPDATE: The McCain campaign released the following statement Saturday afternoon.
“We have received reports from Horry County that voters are being turned away from the polls, because electronic voting machines are not working and paper ballots are not available. Some voters say they are being instructed to return at a later time. We are disturbed by these reports and hope that this issue is resolved immediately. We encourage any voters who were turned away from the polls to return again to their polling place this afternoon to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Horry County uses iVotronic Touch Screen machines, a product of Election Systems & Software, one of the nation’s largest voting technology companies.