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Voting machines tested for accuracy

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Posted: October 22, 2008 7:00 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Voting machines tested for accuracy

Harry Starling, right, and J.D. Dunn test a touch screen voting machine Wednesday at the Bulloch County Courthouse. Starling, who heads up the technology side of county elections, Dunn and Pat Lanier began conducting Logic and Accuracy tests on all 160 voting machines prior to the Nov. 4 general election.

    When all the votes are counted Election Day – Nov. 4 – the turnout in Bulloch County may exceed 25,000. That's almost 6,000 more votes than were cast in the 2004 presidential election and Bulloch officials want to ensure every vote is counted accurately.
    To that end, the county's voting technology staff of Harry Starling, Pat Lanier and J.D. Dunn gathered Wednesday at the Bulloch County Courthouse to program every voting card and voting machine and also test each machine for accuracy.
    "It's something we call Logic and Accuracy testing," said Lee DeLoach, who is probate court judge and head of elections in Bulloch County. "We want to make sure we discover if there is a problem well before Election Day so we can fix it."
    DeLoach said there are about 160 touch screen voting machines that will be distributed among Bulloch's 16 precincts. Each is packed in a case that is tagged with its specific precinct. Every machine is unpacked, tested and then put back in its case. DeLoach said a wire seal is put on the case and the case is not opened again until the Monday before Election Day when it is taken to its precinct and set up. DeLoach said the process takes about three days.
    "It's an important responsibility that we take very seriously," DeLoach said. "We must protect the integrity of every single vote. And the machines must be accurate to do that."
    In the 2004 presidential election, 19,281 residents cast ballots in Bulloch – a 74.6 percent turnout based on 25,845 active registered voters. DeLoach expects at least a 74.6 percent turnout this year, which would translate to a lot more voters because so many more people are registered. DeLoach said more than 33,500 active voters will be on registration rolls come Nov. 4. A similar turnout to 2004 would translate to 25,000 ballots cast.
    Early voting may account for as much as 20 percent of turnout in Bulloch. DeLoach said as of Wednesday morning about 3,400 people had voted and he expects 5,000 ballots cast when early voting ends Oct. 31.     
    "We know how important all elections are and we feel a little bit more pressure this year because so many people will vote," said Lanier, who has worked in the Probate office for 23 years. "We're following the proper procedures and we'll be ready."
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