Voting Machine Problems Continue in Knox County

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Knox County Sheriff's Deputies still don't know whether voters approved an upgrade to their pension plan. For the second night in a row, election workers were unable to retrieve more than 2,600 votes trapped in a defective voting machine.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe has the story.

The entire computerized voting machine is locked in a walk-in safe upstairs at Knoxville's Old Courthouse. Those thousands of uncounted votes will determine whether Knox County deputies receive a better pension.

Authorities say this defective machine used during the early voting cycle at the Downtown West site holds 2,625 uncounted votes. Election workers were unable to retrieve the computerized data on election night, so they called in engineers from the Denver manufacturer.

"We've had a chance to partially take the machine apart, and they've discovered a small defect with one of the votage systems within the machines," election commission secretary Chris Heagerty said.

Authorities say they don't know what caused the defect, but a malfunction concerned them.

"It smoked. I don't know what caused it to smoke. It was literally smoking, so they unhooked it at the time," election commission chairman Pam Reeves said.

The problem is preventing technicians from now accessing the votes.

"What we found out that the memory portion that holds the votes, we believe has not been affected," Heagerty said.

Election officials will now contact labs here in East Tennessee to retrieve the uncounted votes.

"We believe we will be able to take the votes from the memory of the machine that we have, put them on another board, and run power through them and dislodge the votes from the machine," Heagerty said.

The roughly 750 Knox County Deputies are eager to find out whether voters approved their pension upgrade.

"We're absolutely confident it's a fair process. It's not corrupt at all, it's just something that's been unavoidable, and we have no problems on the way it's been handled," FOP state president Brian Moran said.

Election commissioners say they don't know how much it'll cost to have the computer lab to retrieve the votes. The manufacturer may pick up any costs.

The election commission has ten days to certify the election. In the meantime, the deputies will have to wait another night for the vote outcome.