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Voting machine jam fixed, ballots secure, election official reports

This machine, which scans and tabulates votes, was jammed from about 8:55 to about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the River Falls High School polling place. While the machine was jammed, the top, locked compartment was used to collect hand-filled paper ballots. Those ballots will be kept in the locked compartment until after voting has finished, when election officials will scan the ballots through the machine. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia.1 / 2
Voters who live in River Falls District 4, Wards 12, 13, and 14, vote at River Falls High School, 818 Cemetery Road. Gretta Stark / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

RIVER FALLS -- A ballot tabulation machine at the River Falls High School polling place became jammed from about 8:55 to 9:30 a.m. this morning, Tuesday, Nov. 6. According to the site’s chief election official Debra Andazola, a paper ballot, filled out by hand, jammed when it was inserted into the machine, and a small piece of paper became stuck inside the portion of the machine that scanned hand-filled ballots.

During that time, voters were encouraged to use touch-screen voting, the smaller printed ballots from which could still be fed into the machine and scanned, as that portion of the machine was not jammed.

Deputy City Clerk Jackie Sahnow came to the polling place to fix the jammed machine. Andazola said it took about 15 minutes on the phone with the machine’s manufacturer for Sahnow to get the help she needed to fix the machine. Once the machine was up and running again, voters were once again able to scan their hand-filled ballots. All ballots scanned through the machine were deposited in a secured, locked compartment of the machine, Andazola said.

During the time the machine was jammed, hand-filled ballots were deposited in a separate, locked compartment of the machine, Andazola said. She said election officials will scan those ballots through the machine at the end of the day, and those ballots will be counted via the machine.

Andazola has been an election official for close to 13 years. She said this particular machine is new. The city got it in January. It has been used in the January, February, April and August elections. This is the first time the machine has had a mechanical issue, Andazola said.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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