Poll watchers keep an eye on Augusta voting

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November 7, 2006

There are lots of people watching the ballots during this election.

Poll watchers from both the Democratic and Republican parties are keeping a watchful on this election, and two monitors from the Secretary of State's office are roaming Augusta's precincts.

In addition to those monitors, there are a number of poll watchers roaming precincts.

"We have 15 poll watchers, a total of 15 appointed in Richmond County...some of those by the local Democratic party and some by a local candidate on the Board of Education," Director of Elections Lynn Bailey told News 12.

So what are monitors and poll watchers looking for? They're watching to make sure poll workers aren't asking solely for picture IDs, they checked the machines to make the seals weren't broken before voting started, and they made sure the machines were set to a zero count before the first ballot was cast.

"They are there to observe the elections process," Bailey said. "They are also there to solve controversy over who should have won."

Augusta's NAACP requested federal monitors. That request was denied.

Members of the organization spent today fielding complaints.

"Based on the complaints we are getting today, it is a problem with the Diebold voting machines," NAACP president Dr. Charles Smith said. "Every complaint we get we are going to thoroughly get to it as soon as we can get to it."

There was one allegation that someone voted for a mayor candidate, but another candidate's name came up.

The Board of Elections sent someone out to investigate, and they didn't find any malfunction with the machine.

We are told by the Board of Elections office that 99.99 percent of the time, it is a perceived infraction, where the person complaining did not fully understand how the process works.