By ROBERT BRAUCHLE
TIMES STAFF WRITER
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2009
From disdain to delight, north country voters expressed a variety of opinions about the new electronic voting machines used for the first time this year in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
"As a student, I'm used to filling in the bubbles on tests, so it wasn't anything too hard," said Diana Montgomery after voting Tuesday afternoon at Watertown City Hall.
Voters blackened boxes on paper ballots to designate their choices and fed the ballots into a machine to be scanned.
After voting at City Hall, Bradford C. Riendeau said using the machines was easy, but the old machines were just as simple.
"I understand the push for technology, but I didn't think there was a problem with the old lever machines," he said. "Overall, I think it's a good process."
Some voters who were interviewed said they were uncomfortable with the lack of privacy offered by the pop-up barriers used to conceal ballots. They also were concerned that the boxes marked to vote for candidates were too small.
While voters offered mixed reviews of the electronic machines, county elections commissioners said they had few problems with the devices.
"With new technology, there will always be some minor issues," said Sean M. Hennessey, Jefferson County Democratic elections commissioner.
Emergency ballots needed to be used in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties because of problems with machinery.
Elaine McLear, Lewis County Democratic elections commissioner, said technicians were on hand to help with malfunctioning machines. A pair of Lewis County polling stations used emergency ballots.
"Things are going fine," she said. "There were a few things getting the machines fired up, but nothing major so far."