Contra Costa Times, 03/02/2004
Without the voter card activators that failed this morning -- the machines that encode the voting cards with party affiliation and polling location -- touch screen voting cannot proceed.
Each precinct countywide had 25 to 50 provisional ballots on hand for Democrats and Republicans combined, Clark said. He said election officials delivered additional ballots to 43 precincts around the county this morning but voters were turned away in the meanwhile.
Some machines were down for two or three hours.
When registered Republican Elizabeth Peterson arrived to vote at the fire station on Stoneridge Mall Road in Pleasanton, she was greeted with a hand-written sign that read "Voting machine broken, please return later."
Because Democratic presidential hopefuls were the stars of the primary, polling places each received only a handful of Republican provisional ballots.
George Fargis of Pleasanton, precinct inspector at the firehouse, said he and his crew turned away 50 to 100 voters because the encoder was broken.
"We couldn't tell people when or if they could come back and vote," an irritated Fargis said this afternoon.
Fargis said at least four other precincts in Pleasanton reported similar problems. He said poll workers were told expressly not to test the machines before polls opened at 7 a.m.
"Because this was what we hoped to be an all-electronic election we didn't have as many provisional ballots and envelopes at each of the polling places," said Piedmont City Clerk Ann Swift. "We had to not only get a new piece of equipment but get more provisional supplies as a back-up."