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Scanner mishaps don’t halt voting in Columbia County

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Despite some polling issues Tuesday morning, election officials in Columbia County say Tuesday’s voting in the Senate runoffs went smoothly.

“It was just as quick, just as easy, we followed the procedure,” said Paul Ryan, poll manager at Stevens Creek Church.

Several precincts in Columbia County had issues on Tuesday morning.

“The problem we ran into was the initial log in on of the touchscreens and the scanner,” Ryan explained.

Poll officials in Columbia County couldn’t start their automated ballot machines or ballot scanners because they had an incorrect code to start the devices.

“We contacted the county and they informed us they need to re-issue new codes to us, so we went into an emergency procedure with ballots,” Ryan said. “At this time, we opened the doors at 7 o’clock and people were waiting to come in. We did the emergency ballots.”

Managers at Stevens Creek Church say they issued a little fewer than 100 hand-marked paper ballots because of it.

They say even though the systems stopped working, voting never stopped here or at other precincts around the county.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office says most of these precincts were back up and working in a short time.

“Later on in the day, the new codes came on and we’re able to get the touchscreens and the scanner back on. We’re in full automation right now,” Ryan said.

There were several rumors going around saying ballots were put into a trash can at several precincts.

But that wasn‘t the case.

“The ballots are placed in an emergency ballot box on the scanner at which time it is under lock. Once a scanner becomes available, then those ballots that are placed in there get scanned in for the first time into the machine and they fall into the normal count of the rest of the ballots being produced today,” Ryan explained.

Even with all the ballot machine issues, there were no lines and people have been able to get in and out of the polling sites quickly.

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