TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Two malfunctioning machines caused the Tippecanoe County Board of Elections to count votes early into the morning during the 2012 general election. This year, board members want to make sure they do not have another long night.
After processing mail-in and absentee ballots for two previous presidential elections, the Tippecanoe County Board of Elections’ optical scan machines failed in the middle of counting ballots during the 2012 election.
“We first used them for the 2004 presidential election,” Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey said. “Then 2008 was obviously unprecedented. Then 2012 is when we had the issue where they finally just said ‘okay we’re done.’”
“One of them developed a paper jam and the other had a motor malfunction,” said Jared Bond, the Tippecanoe County BOE co-director.
Bond said they replaced the bad motor with the motor from the other machine. Then, they borrowed a second optical scanner from Newton County.
Meanwhile, board members processed several hundred ballots by hand. They counted ballots into the early morning hours.
So, in May 2013 the board decided something needed to change.
“We did discuss it as a board and decided that because in 2013 we did not have elections, for the 2014 election cycle we would get two additional machines,” Coffey said.
Although there are two new optical scan machines the Board of Elections decided to fix the older two. So, now there are back-ups.
“Any moving part I guess could have an error in it,” Bond said. “But I have confidence in these new machines that they will work appropriately.”
The two machines cost about $1,500 together. The money came out of the board’s general fund.
Bond said during a presidential election the optical scan machines count more than 1,000 ballots. This year’s election Bond is expecting fewer than 100 mail-in and absentee ballots of the 16,000 to 19,000 total votes.
The deadline to register to vote for May’s primary election is April 7.