Given the election results, it is doubtful anyone but a Republican (a rare animal in these parts) would want to pursue this, but an alarm was raised that the night before the election, voting machines were left unattended and unsecured in the city’s New Hampshire Ave. recreation center weightlifting room. Councilmember Terry Seamens* raised the issue at the start of the November 6th city council meeting and city resident David Bates spoke up as well in the Citizen Comment segment. Mr. Bates said he had noticed the “stack” of machines at the center. He said the building was in heavy use while he was there – classes and a steady stream of individuals using the weight room.
The machines were sealed, Councilmember Seamens noted, but he was uneasy as to whether a seal was sufficient security. Mr. Bates pointed out that the machines were sitting next to the dumbbell rack. “They might hit the suckers” he said, conjecturing that such an accident might render a machine unreliable.
The voting machines had been delivered earlier in the day by the Board of Elections. Councilmember Colleen Clay said she had been told that a Board of Elections representative would be unpacking the equipment, running tests, and setting up the voting machines from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm that evening.
This failed to reassure Mr. Bates. He noted that he had seen the unsecured machines prior to 7:00 pm and said he would question the veracity of any voting machine left unattended. He said he’d tried to call the Board of Elections, but they were not answering their phone. “It’s pathetic” he concluded. “It’s scary” said Councilmember Seamens.
The mayor said the city would speak to the Board of Elections in the morning (which Mr. Bates thought would be too late). Councilmember David Barry quipped “if you are a fan of a return to paper ballots as I am, you would conclude that the only reasonable public purpose for an electronic voting machine would be for doing bench presses.”
*showing sartorial improvement with a red sweater set off crisply by a dark coat jacket worn over it, and a white oxford shirt underneath showing at the collar.