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Two voting machines questioned
Complaint filed; final election results won't change
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County has certified the results of last week's primary, though 29 ballots could be in question as the Secretary of State's office is investigating a complaint about faulty voting machines.

Because even the most closely contested race had a margin of hundreds of votes, the ballots in question won't have any impact on the results.

For local political activist David Milum, though, filing the complaint wasn't to alter the results, only to review the process. In fact, it wasn't even Milum's voting machine that had the problem.

"My machine worked great," he said. "My wife was having trouble with hers. [His neighbor] complained her votes were jumping from one person to the next.

"I could have had one of those machines just as easily as them. I figure everyone's vote is important. It's one of the rights we have left that's worth anything."

The votes were made on machines 422 and 423 at the Concord Baptist Church precinct in north Forsyth.

After the complaint, the two machines were immediately shut down, said Chief Voter Registrar Gary J. Smith. One machine had recorded nine ballots, the other, 20.

"There was nothing wrong with the machines as far as being able to retrieve the ballots from the machines to be able to count them properly," Smith said. "Those ballots ran just like any other machine that we had."

Three other machines were shut down prior to being used by voters July 15. Of the county's 477 machines used during the primary, just five were shut down.

The Secretary of State's office declined to comment on the investigation, but Smith said he expects to have the machines searched and recertified.

Smith said the biggest problem with the machines is the printers, never the accuracy.

No ballots were lost when the five machines were shut down. When the machines were restarted just before 7:30 p.m. to obtain results, all 29 ballots were accounted for, he said.

Both Concord machine system tests passed, as they had when tested at 6:15 a.m. All five machines were tagged and sealed.

None will be used in the upcoming Aug. 5 runoff election or until they "have been verified and reviewed by the Center for Election Systems, which is part of Kennesaw State University," Smith said. "That's the group that certifies all voting machines in Georgia."

According to responses from an early voting survey conducted by the local elections office, the situation at the Concord precinct wasn't the only problem during the primary.

While the overwhelming majority of comments were positive, receiving "excellent" or "good" ratings, there was one "poor" evaluation from someone complaining about his difficulty registering to vote.

There were nearly as many comments suggesting the precincts "serve coffee and donuts," as there were complaints about machine calibration.

Of the complaints, Smith said neither "felt their vote did not count."

"Out of caution, we closed the two machines," he said. "We didn't close it because someone said, 'My vote didn't count.' We take this thing very seriously."