GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Election workers in Kent County reported a handful of problems with Dominion voting machines jamming on Tuesday, though they say the problems were quickly fixed.
They say it led to some short delays in casting ballots but that voters should not worry: Their votes were counted.
At Ada Bible Church’s Knapp Street campus in Grand Rapids Township, which appeared to get the worst of it, it was all about the pens some voters used to fill out their ballots — or, as clerks call them, ballot-marking devices.
“We want voters confident and to feel secure when they’re going in and casting their votes, and if that means they’re not going to use the recommended ballot-marking devices, as long as they’re using blue or black ink, that’s what we need for our machines,” Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons said.
Clerks prefer voters use Sharpies or similar markers with fast-drying, nonsmudging ink.
“Most precincts will have Sharpies or the Flair (felt tip) pens available,” the county clerk said. “You know we’ve dealt with a lot of conspiracy theories on Sharpies canceling out people’s votes and the bleed through.”
Some voters fear the markers will bleed through and spoil their votes — an unjustified fear, clerks say, since the circles on the front and back of the ballot don’t line up.
“The way that the questions are arranged, there’s no way that they can be read wrong even if it bleeds through to the other side,” said Grand Rapids Township Precinct 4 Chairperson Barbara Ford.
Still, to ease the fears, Grand Rapids Township Precinct 4, at Ada Bible Church, provided Bic ballpoint pens with slower-drying ink.
“If the ink is not quite dry, it will rub off on some of the mechanics inside the machine and then it will cause issues, then we end up with a jam in the tabulator,” Ford said.
Twice on Tuesday, Precinct 4’s Dominion tabulator jammed. Ford said it stopped happening after they switched to markers.
Some voters waited for techs to fix the machines so they could slide in their own ballots. Others left ballots in a secure auxiliary box. Once the tabulator was fixed, Republican and Democratic poll workers fed them into the machine.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s office said it received reports of about 10 tabulators going offline briefly across the state, out of about 4,000 in use on Tuesday. There were a handful of reports in Grand Rapids and across Kent County.
At Ada Bible Church, voter no. 298 Jessica James said a jam led to a short delay in her casting a ballot.
“There was a paper jam, but in there they handled it really well,” she said. “I’m confident it counted. I heard it drop and it did say it was successful afterwards.”