DEVELOPING STORY: Some Area Voting Machines Reportedly Changing Republican Votes to Democrat

img_5801CLARION CO., Pa. (EYT) – Multiple reports of issues with electronic ballot machines in various precincts have caused concern among some area voters.

One of the three voting machines at the Wentlings Corners Community Building near Knox malfunctioned Tuesday morning, according to election board member Wanda McKinney.

Kylee Ensminger, of Wentlings Corners, experienced difficulty voting at the community building this morning around 9 a.m.

Ensminger reported that she tried to vote straight ticket for the Republican party, but the machine switched her vote to Democrat. She said this occurred three times before her vote was cast correctly.

“I told [the election board] that there was an issue – that [the voting machine] kept switching my vote – so they would be aware of it,” Ensminger said. “They told me that other people had problems with that machine also.”

Ensminger reported the issue to Clarion County Board of Elections, who said the machine had been shut down and was in the process of being replaced.

“I hope this all gets figured out. It makes me feel like [the election] has been rigged,” Ensminger said.

Other voters reported having issues at the same location, including Justin Fair of Knox.

“I selected straight Republican, and it automatically selected straight Democrat,” said Fair, who voted around 8:30 a.m. “I had to press Republican several times to get an ‘X’ beside my selection.”

Fair says he’s concerned about whether his vote had actually been recorded correctly.

“This has me questioning if my vote actually counted,” Fair said.

McKinney said the issue with the malfunctioning machine was resolved earlier this morning, but could not offer further comment.

Related issues have been reported throughout the county at various polling locations including Monroe Township, New Bethlehem, and Clarion Borough.

Sara Maxwell of Clarion said she experienced problems while voting at the Clarion Area High School.

“As soon as I put (the card) in the slot it came up with all of the Democrats,” said Maxwell. “I actually had to go through and select who I wanted to vote for and then I double-checked to make sure it didn’t change my vote.”

At this time, it’s unclear if any voters who selected straight Democrat had their votes switched to Republican.

There is no indication that votes were incorrectly registered in the system.

Election board members in Shippenville Borough and Knox Borough did not report any major issues with their voting machines.

Although one of the two voting machines at the Shippenville Borough building experienced issues when voters tried to push the “next” button, election board members did not report any actual problems with voting straight party ticket.

In response to the issues, the Clarion County Commissioners and the Board of Elections released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“Throughout the 11 years during which Clarion County has used these machines, they have worked very well and we have encountered few issues. However, with any piece of machinery, occasionally an issue does arise. As a result, the Election Department, in conjunction with the County Commissioners, has personnel and procedures in place to respond and remedy these issues if and when they should arise. We are aware of a few isolated issues that have been reported. In each instance, the County immediately pulled the suspect machine and dispatched a technician to inspect it. To the best of our knowledge, the issues encountered were minor and were corrected on site.”

In Jefferson County, polling places were busy and election officials reported things were going smoothly, with one exception.

Karen Lupone, Chief Clerk and Director of Elections, reported that one machine in Knox Township needed to be recalibrated after it was discovered the machine had registered an incorrect vote.

“The machine was recalibrated and then it worked fine,” Lupone said. “When the machines are moved to the polling places, sometimes they get bumped and a machine may need to be recalibrated,” Lupone said.

Lupone said in the future, county officials may consider recalibrating the machines after they are moved to polling locations and before people voted.

Similar problems have arisen in Clinton Township, Butler County, where two out of eight voting machines malfunctioned today when people attempted to vote straight party.

Additionally, voters in other states, including Utah, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana have reported machines going down at polling locations, according to a NY Daily News report.

Stay with for continuous coverage of this Developing Story.

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