Originally created 11/07/02

Rural counties rave over voting machines



Lucy Bryant called it a victory for the new touch-screen voting machines.

"We're very rural, and we have a lot of elderly people," Mrs. Bryant, the superintendent of elections for Warren County, said Wednesday. "But they liked it (the new machines). So that's part of the battle won right there."

Mrs. Bryant's county was one of several outlying areas of Augusta that reported smooth voting and returns from the state's new electronic voting system, which was used in Tuesday's midterm election.

"That was the easiest thing," said Tiffany Neal, the elections supervisor for McDuffie County. "It only took us about a minute for each precinct (to count the votes)."

Virginia Williams, the executive director of elections for Lincoln County, told a similar story.

"It was wonderful. The people just loved it. And we got out of here in no time," she said, noting that all the votes, including absentee ballots, were counted by 11:30 p.m.

The new system worked so well in Wilkes County that Jim Burton, the county's elections superintendent, said his view on the touch-screen device changed.

"I must say I was skeptical," he said. "But it's come off even better than I dreamed."

He added that his county is selling 27 of its lever voting machines to New York.

In Augusta's outlying counties, the machines were used mostly for state races and a few local contests. In Wilkes County, newcomer Sam Moore defeated newcomer Roy Cates, 2,578 votes to 710, to become the chairman of the county's Board of Commissioners; incumbent Marshall Sherrer defeated Alfonzia Booker, 560 to 227, for District 3 commissioner; and Jerry Stover defeated Zan Bunch 644 to 249 to become District 4 commissioner.

In Washington County, Melton Jones beat Curtis Parsons 790 to 560 to become District 3 commissioner. In McDuffie County, Sammie Wilson Sr. defeated Lewis A. Harbeson Jr. 1,270 to 753 for District 1 commissioner; and Mike Love defeated Brian Barmore 784 to 479 for Board of Education District 7.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.