Poll Workers: Humans step up where machines fail

West Virginia voters, for the most part, saw a smooth, relatively problem-free election last week. In fact, the Mountain State was the proving ground for a new kind of election technology as block-chain, mobile voting was tested for the first time — and successfully.

But there was a reminder, in Kanawha County, that machines can take us only so far. There is still no replacement for human poll workers.

According to Kanawha County’s Voter’s Registration Office, a machine error led to the failure to count 1,739 votes, from precincts in Elkview, Clendenin, Pinch and Kanawha City.

How do they know?

Poll workers taking tallies on sheets of paper caught the discrepancies.

Now more humans, the Board of Canvassers, has to make it right.

“The canvass will be conducted in a civil, quiet manner,” said Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper. “I don’t care if it takes a week — we will count every vote, period.”

Meanwhile, many of you who went to the polls last week may have noticed the percentage of poll workers who are not getting any younger. It is getting harder to find young people to step up for such an important task.

But the mistake by the machines last week shows that it is, truly, an important task; and one some of our more civically passionate young people might want to consider. It’s not flashy; doesn’t make for a great social media post. But it makes a difference. It keeps our free elections working the way they should.

Thank you, then, to the folks in Kanawha County who kept an eye on the machines with their pencils and paper. Let us hope the next generation of poll workers is ready to step up to help them.

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