Record-high voting in the Bay Area on Tuesday mostly defied predictions of unwieldy waits and overwhelmed polls. But in Santa Clara County, concerns about touch-screen voting machines will likely increase following significant malfunctions.
Fifty-seven of the county's Sequoia Voting Systems machines failed on Election Day, resulting in hourslong delays before replacements arrived. State officials decertified electronic machines for widespread use in California last year amid reliability concerns; on Tuesday, each of the county's 785 polling places was equipped with a single machine for use by the disabled.
"We've had technical problems before, but we haven't had to resort to getting a replacement out or leaving a polling place without a machine at all," said election office spokesman Matt Moreles. He noted that voting at the affected precincts continued on paper ballots.
California Voter Foundation president Kim Alexander called the glitch "concerning" and said it marred an otherwise largely problem-free election statewide. "It underscores the ongoing challenges we face in California attempting to implement computerized voting," she said. "If Santa Clara County were still using touch screens as its primary election system, you bet it would have been a huge problem."
Loose printer connections, as well as dead batteries and broken screens, caused the failures.
Long lines and scattered snags surfaced across the Bay Area on Election Day and an expected record number of voters anxious to cast ballots. From San Jose to Oakland, poll workers were greeted by a steady stream of voters. Some problems emerged, but the overall mood was one of excitement.