Internet issue hampers early voting

October 27, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Clerk Phyllis Smith said internet problems led to long lines during early voting at the county field office in Ona on Wednesday and Thursday, while voting at Marshall University didn’t begin until Thursday afternoon because of the same problems.

Early voting in West Virginia began Wednesday. Smith said there were issues with Sudden-link’s network adapter switch at the county field office in Ona and at Marshall University, two early voting locations.

Poll workers have to access the internet to look up a voters’ identification and then sign them out of a physical book containing the voters’ district and signature. Only one computer at the Ona field office could connect to the internet, creating long lines because workers could only help one person at a time, she said. No one was able to vote at Marshall because of the outage.

As a result of those issues, many people decided to vote at the Cabell County Courthouse, creating additional wait times there Wednesday and Thursday.

Greg Shoemaker, the county’s director of information technology, solved the problems after installing new network switches at both locations, she said. Early voting resumed as normal by Thursday afternoon.

She said besides internet issues, early voting has gone smoothly because the county’s new voting machines, purchased

in June, are faster and less confusing.

“If you can read, then you can pretty well do it because the machine walks you through the whole process,” she said.

The county this summer purchased 315 Express Votes voting machines and 75 DS200 voting tabulation machines from Election Systems and Software, a Nebraska-based company, for $1.4 million. The West Virginia Election Commission recently awarded the county a $667,724 grant to help offset the cost of those machines. The county’s previous machines were roughly 16 years old and were prone to breaking down.

The newer machines are considered more secure because they do not require an internet connection to transmit results; they also print out paper receipts, making it easier to check for errors.

According to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner’s office, 907 people voted in Cabell County on Wednesday. Of those, 432 were registered Democrats; 360 were registered Republicans; one was registered to the Mountain Party; one was registered to the Libertarian Party; 111 were registered with no party affiliation; and two were registered as “other.”

In all of West Virginia, 16,750 people showed up to vote Wednesday, according to Warner’s office. Among those, 7,651 were registered Democrats; 6,372 were registered Republicans; 11 were registered to the Mountain Party; 42 were registered to the Libertarian Party; 2,369 were registered with no affiliation; and 113 were registered as “other.”

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.