Early computer crash challenges Meridian precinct

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Meridian’s second voting precinct at Haslett High School tried to get ahead of the game by taking two hours Monday night to set up and prepare for the big day. Despite the effort, an early crash in the voting booth computers brought a rough start to Election Day.

A glitch in the booth computers halted the operation just minutes after the doors opened, which made an already long line get even worse.

“Oh yeah, it caused a jam,” said precinct co-chair Ginger Petty. “The line snaked all around inside the gym and even started outside the door at one point. It happened right after we opened at 7 a.m., but it wasn’t a huge delay. After 10 minutes we got things up and running again.”

Petty, who has done this job for more than 20 years, has experience with these situations and knew things would work out fine.

“It’s unusual if something wrong doesn’t happen,” said Petty, a Haslett resident. “We’re all human and things happen. The wonderful thing about the technology we use is you can swipe the driver’s license and their name pops up right away, and it makes things go a lot quicker. The technology allows us to fix any problems and correct mistakes.”

Irma Lillrose, co-chair of the precinct, knew the decision to come in the night before and set everything up was worth the extra commitment.

“We have never done this before, but it definitely helped us start things up this morning,” said Lillrose, who has co-chaired at the precinct for six years. “We would never do it for a normal election but because it’s the big presidential election we came here for two hours and worked hard. They drop the machines off for us and we have to put them where we want them, so to set it up last night is incomparable.”

Haslett Middle School is one of 20 voting precincts in Meridian Township. While other decisions are on the ballot, the presidential race is making this Election day so hectic.

“Our lines were huge, our computers were slow, and we don’t have enough sleeves,” said co-chair Irma Lillrose. She said ballot sleeves are “one of our biggest problems. We don’t have enough of those sleeves so it slows us down to run around and get more of them. We always run into problems at the beginning of the day, but we should be fine through the rest of the day.”

The voters have to struggle through these problems, and their patience is key in keeping everything smooth in the newsroom.

“My ballot got kicked out of the machine a couple times, it actually happened four times when I voted for the primary earlier this year,” said Debra Chiblanski, a Haslett resident. “It always happens though. It has happened to me multiple times but they always manage to fix things quickly. They were all so nice and did a great job of keeping things moving.”

The jam started to settle down around 9 a.m., but lines and waves of voters will continue throughout the day. The polls close at 8 p.m.

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