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Paper Ballots to be Used in Prince William


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William County Electoral Board thought they had enough voting machines. Last night they admitted they didn’t, and that led to voters at Woodbridge’s River Oaks precinct waiting in lines for up to four hours to cast their ballot Election Day Nov. 6. The last ballot was marked at River Oaks at 10:45 p.m., marking it the most problematic of the county’s 84 77 voting precincts.

Long Lines and lengthy waits also prevailed at Beville Middle School in Dale City and Fred M. Lynn Middle School in Woodbridge where voters waited three hours to cast votes. There were also lines of up to two hours at 17 other polling places in the county.

“I think that gives you an idea of the hardship that citizens in this county suffered on Election Day, and I guarantee you this Board regrets that,” said Prince William Electoral Board Secretary Tony Guiffre.

Now, the Electoral Board will begin the process of switching from the electronic touch-screen voting machines used since 2004 to paper ballots. Officials said Fairfax County were using paper ballots on Nov. 6 when lines got long, because they have optical scanning machines to count the returns.

Prince William doesn’t have optical scanners, said Guifree, and the paper ballot wasn’t an option. Election officials admitted they are a year and a half behind the curve when it comes to replacing aging voting machines.

Prince William Voting Registrar Betty Weimer said outfitting a single precinct with new machines – individual voting machines and ballot scanners — will cost about $22,000. Officials said there is no timeline in place as to when to expect the new machines.

Weimer has also taken questions from Woodbridge District Supervisor Frank Principi after it was learned a request for $350,000 to fund overtime for election workers. The request appears twice in public meeting minutes of the Electoral Board.

The money would have not went to buy new voting machines if it had been approved, and weimer on Tuesday said she needed to review the matter further before she commented on it.

Guifree also listed other issues that slowed things down at the polls. There was voter confusion following the decennial redistricting process that brought changes to where voters are supposed to cast their ballots.

At least 10,000 voters cards presented to poll workers were red flagged with some type of issue, he said.

Two constitutional amendments that appeared on the ballot also slowed things, as voters had to take the time to read and understand the measures they were voting for.

Maryland voters had seven questions to review and decide on, and some counties also had individual referendums put to voters.

A new law that requires voters to present ID before they vote did not present a problem, said Guifree. Officials in Prince William County said they will now look at creating voting centers where residents will be allowed to vote ahead of time, much like in-person absentee voting, no matter what precinct they live in.


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