EDITORIAL: Ireland’s Electronic Voting Machines: Bad News for Some Voters

HNN Staff

GOP Governor’s candidate Betty Ireland made news repeatedly during her four years as Secretary of State for her insistence that West Virginia needed to move forward with electronic voting machines.

Whether Ireland saw it as a legitimate improvement on the state’s traditional voting methods or a chance to look like a leader who kept current with the times, Ireland was determined to bring in those machines.

Ireland got her way, and touch-screen electronic voting machines became her choice. Election Systems and Software started putting in machines across West Virginia.

But by the 2008 election cycle, the early voting complaints rolled in from counties like Jackson, Putnam, and Ohio. It got so bad that West Virginia made national news over it. Here’s part of the account from Wired, a national website, from October 20, 2008:

“At least three voters in Jackson County, West Virginia, complained that when they tried to cast a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the machine recorded a check in the box for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

One of the voters reported the same problem in the governor and state senate races. In each case, the voter tried to cast a vote for a Democratic candidate, but the machine marked his vote for the Republican challenger instead. Another voter who tried to cast votes for two state Supreme Court candidates said the machine cancelled one of her choices twice before it finally accepted her selection.

Three other voters in Putnam County say they had the same problem.”

In the same article, an election official from Putnam County was said to have complained said to the Charleston Gazette that there are "so many negative stories out there and not enough positive ones. We want people to vote. People need to know the facts."

Earlier that year, Ireland boasted that West Virginia had a “hugely strict” testing system in place. She noted that West Virginia did not have problems like other states with these electronic voting machines in the 2006 cycle.

But Ireland spoke too soon, as West Virginia voters’ complaints appeared to have caught up with everyone else in 2008.

When will Betty Ireland concede that the electronic voting machines she put into place as Secretary of State have not been as reliable as she claimed? And when will West Virginians be able to cast a vote with confidence again?

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