The Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) says that the voting problems that have shown up at several places around the District are, in part, due to good old human error. BOEE spokeswoman Alysoun McLaughlin says problems emerged after some poll workers forgot their training, something that’s particularly problematic as the city rolls out new voting machines: “They just weren’t prepared with the opening procedure.”
The workers became boggled when they encountered a missing “seal” (a small piece of red plastic threaded with wire) on the machines. According to instructions, this particular BOEE seal was to cover a voting machine printer port. But the seal hadn’t been put on the machines because, late in the game, the BOEE decided it was unnecessary. They neglected to change the instructions that come with the voting machines, however. So finding the seal absent, workers were supposed to call the BOEE. That’s where the human error part came in. Some workers didn’t—they simply stopped setting up.
Mayoral candidate Vincent Gray has called for extended voting hours because of the problems.
BOEE Executive Director Rokey W. Suleman says reports of voters being turned away from polls because of the seal are likely inaccurate. “Reports from people other than the board of election tend to be exaggerated,” he says. But Suleman isn’t claiming things have gone completely smoothly. Working with new equipment is always a challenge, he says. “These are the hiccups I said would occur.”