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Voting machines OK'd
Two in complaint pass state testing
election 4 jd
James Long tests the machines by voting several test ballots. - photo by Jim Dean

Any doubts about the results of the July 15 primary election in Forsyth County were removed Thursday morning.

In response to a complaint filed by local political activist David Milum, a representative with Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems came to Cumming to test the two voting machines in question.

Using a testing script supplied by the Secretary of State's office, James Long ran several tests on the two machines. Both, he said, "worked exactly the way they're supposed to."

The acceptance test was performed to "affirm that the machines have the certified software and function properly," said Matt Carrothers, a spokesman in the Secretary of State's office. "Both machines passed the acceptance test."

The two machines won't be used during the Aug. 5 runoff election, for which early voting begins Tuesday, but will return to the cycle for the Nov. 4 General Election.

Milum's complaint about the machines was filed when his wife and friends told him they were having trouble selecting a candidate, because the 'X' would appear next to the wrong person's name.

The incidents happened on machines 422 and 423 at the Concord precinct in north Forsyth.

The complaint was made after the votes were cast and the two machines were immediately shut down and sealed, said Chief Voter Registrar Gary J. Smith.

Everything from shutting down the machine to Thursday's testing was done according to standard procedure. While

Smith and his staff have been trained for these situations, he said he wants more voters to know how they can help with the process.

"It's hard for us to be mind readers," Smith said. "If the public has an issue with anything, they need to immediately tell the poll manager or poll worker that they have a problem, so we can deal with it right then, not three days later," he said.

"Because three days later I can't do anything about it and I want to be able to take care of it right there."

Smith said it was good that Milum told the poll worker about the issue, but the best thing to do if there are any problems with a machine, or a voter has any questions, is tell a poll worker before submitting a ballot.

A vote can be cancelled during the selection process, and a voter can take the voting card to another machine. Once voters approve their vote, however, there's no going back.

Some have complained that the touch-screens weren't correctly registering candidates, but Smith said that's why there are so many chances to go back and view which candidates a voter has selected.

"It does light up, it does tell you who you've voted for," he said. "And if you're looking at it and you're not satisfied with it, you can change it.

"It's computer equipment. Computers do fail, but I think I was pleased to see that no votes were lost on those machines."

Chief photographer Jim Dean contributed to this report.