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Summit County Board of Elections making adjustments after August scanner issues

People vote in a gym.
Andrew Meyer
Ideastream Public Media
Voters fill out their ballots in Hudson on Nov. 8, 2022.

After issues with new scanner equipment in August, the Summit County Board of Elections is making changes to avoid any difficulties voting in November, Deputy Director Pete Zeigler said.

Zeigler confirmed in August that some voters had issues inserting their ballots into new scanner equipment. Voters and reporters initially shared on social media that scanners in Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson were either down or not working properly. The issue mainly stemmed from user error, Zeigler confirmed at the time. The August election presented voters with the first opportunity to use the new scanners, which require voters to push in their ballots rather than the ballots being sucked in by the machine, he said. Poll workers may not have had enough training with the new equipment, he added.

The issue did not impact anyone’s ability to vote, but the board made some changes this time around to avoid problems, he said. In August, voters who experienced difficulty with a scanner were able to vote with another machine or an auxiliary bag, which secures the ballot until a bipartisan team of poll workers runs them through scanners after polls have closed, Zeigler said.

“We’ve chosen to use a slightly thinner ballot stock," Zeigler said, "and we’ve made a slight adjustment to the intake.”

That means voters don’t have to be as precise when inserting their ballots, Zeigler said, and he expects minimal complications.

“We have found experience to be the best teacher with this," Zeigler said.

Zeigler said he's very confident in the training the board has offered poll workers as well.

Early voting turnout has been robust, Zeigler said, as Ohioans make their voices heard on two major issues: abortion and marijuana.

"I think the interest in the state issues is really causing the levels to be higher than we would have anticipated," Zeigler said.

In addition to a myriad of local elections, Ohioans are voting on two statewide issues. Issue 1 would enshrine the right to abortion in the state's constitution. Issue 2 would legalize recreational marijuana.

The board has sent out more than 11,000 absentee ballots, and, as of last week, more than 2,000 people have voted early, Zeigler said.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.