New Bedford Precinct 1B Ballot Machine Jamming
UPDATE: This article has been updated to include information from the New Bedford mayor's office about the procedure for counting the ballots and some clarifications from Manny DeBrito.
NEW BEDFORD — Voters at one New Bedford polling place are reporting problems with a ballot counting machine — with a city election commissioner confirming that the machine is jamming, but is currently being repaired.
Registered voters in New Bedford's North End Precinct 1B earlier this morning reported that one of the ballot counting machines at the Fitzgerald Drive CareOne voting location was "malfunctioning."
One resident said before 8 a.m. that election officials were asking those casting their ballots at the spot to leave the completed ballots on a chair to be counted later, although city election commissioner Manny DeBrito said poll workers are trained to put uncounted ballots in a secured tray.
A spokesperson for the New Bedford mayor's office also said the protocol is to leave the ballots in a tray in the machine to be counted later, and clarified that if ballots were being left on a chair, it was probably for quick collection before being deposited into the tray.
The voter added that techs had already arrived to deal with the issue earlier this morning.
"We're fixing it," DeBrito confirmed of the machine issue, adding that it's an "easy fix."
According to DeBrito, ballots were jamming up the machine "a little bit" because of their length, but elections officials were dealing with the problem.
"Honestly, there's no issues," he added.
WBSM News could not confirm a report that some early morning voters at Lincoln Elementary School in Precinct 2F — also in the North End — were not given a ballot for the MBTA question.
DeBrito said he was unaware of a problem with the separate ballot, as no complaints have been made. He added that he has visited the polling location in question and everything was running smoothly.
The ballots with the question on joining the MBTA are separate from the general election ballot, and are only given to residents of New Bedford and Fall River.
Voters in those two cities must choose to join the transit authority before SouthCoast rail service to Boston can begin, although the stations and track upgrades for the project are already being constructed.