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Crashed Cranston voting machine causes delay, prompts paper ballot count

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A precinct-based ballot scanner failed to total about 9,000 votes cast since October 14, delaying final results in Cranston until the Board of Elections ran the paper versions through its own machines Wednesday afternoon.

The Board of Elections unanimously approved count of the recommendation of its Executive Director Robert Rapoza who told the board a USB drive in the DS2OO voting machine became full before the tabulation.

The electronic storage device was replaced, but that did not solve the problem.

“While the USB captured all the votes cast, up to the point it became full, the DS200 did not have the ability to tabulate all the results that were on the USB drive,” Rapoza told the BOE during a virtual meeting Wednesday morning.

As reported by 12 News on election night, Cranston elections officials took the paper ballots to BOE headquarters, while escorted by police after the machine failed.

The sealed ballots were stored in the building that is equipped with surveillance cameras and patrolled by an overnight guard, Rapoza said.

Rapoza reminded the board the 2020 Election was the state’s first with a historic volume of early, in-person voting.

Just over 140,000 of those ballots were cast across the state, and while that total may not be reached again, Rapoza said his staff is looking into sending out more machines to local precincts and possibly using USB devices with more storage capabilities in future elections.

The overall total of 482,082 votes, that also includes mail and election day ballots, set a record but Rapoza said the turnout of just under 61% was about average for a presidential election.

In Rapoza’s opinion the record was spurred by the system, not the politics of 2020 politics.

“We made voting easier for the voter. We made it more accessible,” he said. “And the voters noticed this and took advantage of it”

Rapoza said he would not be surprised if the board discussed options for offering early voting again.

“I can’t speak for the board,” Rapoza said. “But in 2020 at least it worked.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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