Election proves frustrating for some voters

By Julie Fann

STAR STAFF
jfann@starhq.com

  
Who would've thought pressing buttons could be so difficult.
   Voting in Carter County yesterday wasn't necessarily as simple as it should have been. One of the two voting machines placed at the Tiger Valley district conked out at 9 a.m., turning several voters away and creating an approximate two-hour wait.
   "This same thing happened four years ago. This is a big precinct, and they always just send us two machines, and you know how hot the weather is this time of year. Something needs to be done about it," said Peggy Stevens, whose husband, Amos Stevens, was running for commissioner in the 2nd District.
   Laura Holtsclaw, Assistant Administrator of Elections, said the scroll motor that turns the pages inside the machine burned. Election officials had to program a new cartridge and prepare one of the early voting machines to replace the defunct one.
   Holtsclaw said two more machines were taken to Hampton around noon, bringing the total to three machines. "We are really sorry that it happened. There's going to be three up there from now on. We purchased three from Obion County, and one will be going up there," she said.
   Julie Adams, Election Official for Tiger Valley, said that, for the most part, voters were extremely patient. "It's hot. It's very hot, but people are being very patient really," Adams said.
   At Little Milligan Elementary, 84 persons out of 346 registered voters had turned out by 3:30 p.m. Farrell Main, election officer, said the most the precinct had ever seen was 130 voters.
   "Usually about 4:30 p.m., we start getting the people that get off work at 4 p.m. and from 4:30 to 7 p.m. it's steady. It starts slacking off by 7 p.m. and we're pretty well done by 8 p.m.," Main said. He also said he had not seen any candidates come by the school as of early afternoon. "Maybe they don't think there are enough votes up here," he said.
   At Elk Mills Precinct, 168 votes were cast, according to Betty Cable, election judge. "That's a good day up here. We're kind of a small precinct," she said.
   Unlike other precincts, there were no glitches with voting machines or power outages, according to Cable. "Everything went smooth as silk," she said.
   Layla Ward, election official at Valley Forge Elementary, said turnout around 6 p.m. totaled between 450 and 500. "We did about 400 on early voting so we've had a really great turnout. We're going to do well over 85 percent this election, I'm thinking. Last time we had an 88 percent turnout and this time I think we're going to do better," Ward said.
   A late afternoon thunderstorm caused brief problems for Valley Forge precinct. "We had about a 20-minute storm. It was thundering like crazy and bam! Power is out. For the first 15 minutes we only had one machine until somebody brought me some new batteries," Ward said. "We're running on batteries right now," she said shortly after 6 p.m. We can run two machines per one battery."
   Ward said the batteries had been charged all night long and could last up to 24 hours. "We've got all four machines going right now" on battery power.