Elections

Some voting machines not working early Tuesday in Wichita

People line up to vote at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Riverside on Tuesday morning. The polling place had trouble with new voting machines when it opened, but corrected the problem and allowed voters to uses paper ballots instead. (Nov. 8, 2016)
People line up to vote at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Riverside on Tuesday morning. The polling place had trouble with new voting machines when it opened, but corrected the problem and allowed voters to uses paper ballots instead. (Nov. 8, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

The start of Election Day 2016 in Wichita wasn’t without some hiccups early Tuesday morning.

Tabitha Lehman, Sedgwick County’s election commissioner, said shortly before 7 a.m. that voting machines at several polling places in the city were not functioning properly.

Lehman said voters could always vote using paper ballots even if machines were not functioning. She said technicians had been called to the sites affected, which included Gloria Dei Lutheran Church on North River Boulevard.

At 7:45 a.m., Lehman said most of the problems had been remedied.

“The important thing to know is you can still vote with a paper ballot,” Lehman said. “According to our technicians, we have most of the issues resolved. We might still have a printer jam here and there but the larger issues have been dealt with.”

After voting at Gloria Dei at around 7 a.m., Jocelyn Ibarra, 23, of Wichita said she had no problems using a voting machine to cast her ballot.

“From the time I parked until it was done, it was probably about five minutes,” Ibarra said.

Ibarra said Tuesday marked the first time she had voted in a presidential election.

At the Sisters of St. Joseph convent, 3700 E. Lincoln, early Tuesday, Taylor Martin, 29, of Wichita, said he experienced long lines and voting machine dysfunction.

“We waited until about 6:10 for the doors to open,” Martin said. “When we got into the polling area, the election officials kept announcing that machines were down. Five to seven of the machines were broken, and they said we could wait or use a paper ballot.

“The line for the machines was long, so my wife and I both used paper ballots. By the time we made it out at 6:45 the line for the machines was back out the door.”

After voting at the same location at about 8:45 a.m., however, Denise Cocking, 34, of Wichita said her voting experience was a smooth one.

“I voted on a machine and everything was fine,” Cocking said. “I didn’t notice any issues as people used the machines. It was all fast – it only took me a few minutes to vote.” She added that she thought the country was in a downward spiral, and she wanted to do her part to vote Tuesday.

One of the problems encountered early Tuesday, Lehman said, had to do with Americans with Disabilities Act-capable machines.

“We rented 55 additional machines to help with the expected turnout today,” Lehman said. “Unbeknownst to us, those machines were not ADA audio ballot accessible machines. All of the machines that we own are – we programmed all of the machines to work with an audio ballot.”

Lehman said the 55 machines that were not ADA accessible wouldn’t work until the audio ballot function was disabled. Lehman said that each polling site has at least one ADA accessible machine, as required by law.

“The issues have been resolved,” Lehman said.

Janice Mills of Wichita used a machine to vote at RiverWalk Church of Christ, near downtown Wichita. She said it only took her a few minutes to vote.

“There’s more diversity among the (polling place) workers this year. It looked like our city there today.”

Stay up to date on the latest developments this Election Day by checking back throughout the day to Kansas.com.

In the past year and a half, American voters have been presented with historic surprises and scandals from their presidential nominees. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's promises of "making America great again" and being "stronger together" have

Voters at a few advance polling stations in Wichita tell us who they voted for in the presidential race -- and why. (Video by Oliver Morrison / The Wichita Eagle)

Bryan Horwath: 316-269-6708, @bryan_horwath

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