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Election Problem Log - 2004 to 2009
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VotersUnite! began this problem log with the November 2004 election. It continued its compilation of problems reported in the media by adding news stories about subsequent elections, through 2009. See also: Failures by vendor and Failures by state.
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Date Problem Type State
11/12/2009 Machine malfunction NY ESS Erie County. A ballot programming error on the ballot scanner caused votes to be counted incorrectly. Story Transcript, see page 14.
11/6/2009 Machine malfunction PA ESS Lackawanna County. Flawed ballot programming on the M100 ballot scanners resulted in a failure to count up to 2,452 straight-party votes for two city candidates. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction CA ESS Merced County. Four "election computers" were not working properly early in the day and were repaired. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction MA ESS Quincy in Norfolk County. A power surge caused a 3P-Eagle optical scanner to break down. The machine was replaced. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction MI ESS Genesee County (Flint). Votes from the M100 optical scanner memory cards in Precinct 1 in Flushing Township could not be uploaded to the election management system database. Election workers entered the votes into database by hand, from the printed poll tapes. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NC ESS Mount Airy (Surry County). Modems at two precincts failed and poll workers called in the results. Totals were transposed at the county office, causing the losing candidate to be announced initially as winner of the mayor's race. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction PA ESS Indiana County. M100 optical scanners counted the number of ballots wrong. The number of ballots was an even number in 61 of 69 precincts, suggesting that the scanners counted each sheet of the 2-sheet ballot as a separate ballot. But that explanation doesn't account for a report of 642 ballots cast by 237 registered voters at Cherryhill 1. Even full turnout would have been just 474 pieces of paper. Election workers are still trying to find out what happened. Story Archive
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction NC ESS Guilford County. Votes for Bill Knight for mayor were flipped to Yvonne Johnson on the iVotronic touch screen machine. Officials claimed it was a calibration problem. Story
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction NY ESS Erie County. Three DS200 ballot scanners jammed and had to be replaced. Story Archive
10/7/2009 Machine malfunction TN ESS Williamson County. Complaints of vote-flipping on the touch screen machine. One candidate's supporter tried to vote for him, but the machine highlighted a different candidate's name. Story Archive
9/16/2009 Machine malfunction NY ESS Albany County. During the "pilot" using uncertified equipment, ES&S DS-200 optical scanners jammed. It turned out to involve a glitch in the machine's software that was supposed to have been fixed already by the state and the machine's manufacturer. Story Archive
6/4/2009 Machine malfunction SD ESS Pennington County. The ES&S tabulation software added nearly 5,000 votes to the total as votes from the three M650 scanners were combined. When the problem was corrected, the total number of votes was cut nearly in half. With the correction also, a winner emerged in the Ward 4 Rapid City Council post, so no runoff is needed. Story Archive
4/8/2009 Machine malfunction KS ESS Saline County. Vote-flipping on the iVotronic touch screen machine. "The problem was this: When a voter pressed a certain candidate's bar on the voting machine's screen, the candidate above the selected candidate instead received the checkmark." Story Archive

Update 4/10/09. The county has discovered that vote-flipping is a known problem that affects 22,619 ES&S iVotronic voting machines, whose screens were made by Bergquist Co. In October 2008, the Brennan Center warned the Secretaries of State in 16 states that the screens had "calibration drift." ES&S admits that calibration may not hold through the entire election day. Story Archive

11/17/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Craven County. More problems emerge. The article says 342 ballots are missing from the No. 7 Township Fire and Rescue early voting site. A total of 7,575 authorizations to vote were identified but staff can find ballots, tapes, flash cards or personal electronic ballot records for only 7,233. Story Archive

Update 11/18/08. The missing ballots were found in a personal electronic ballot counter used to record first day of one-stop votes at No. & Township fire and Rescue in Grantham. The PEB was marked "spare" and overlooked originally. Story Archive

11/14/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Burke County. Paper jammed on the iVotronic touch screen machines. Story Archive
11/13/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Craven County. A memory card error caused only part of the main one-stop (early voting) ballots to be uploaded from one site. Revised numbers raise the turnout from 60% to 65% and may change the outcome of a State Representative race. An error in the reporting software also incorrectly categorized some ballots as absentee. The county uses iVotronic touch screen machines and M100 scanners. Story Archive One of the machines at the Cove City early voting site had a dead battery, which officials originally thought was the cause of the misreporting. Story2 Archive2

Update 11/14/08. Officials say that coding errors, made by ES&S and distributed by Print Elect, caused the software to read the data incorrectly. Four ballot styles reflecting the district in which voters of particular precinct could participate and the "Geo-codes" were not entered correctly and produced reporting problems. Story Archive

11/8/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Forsyth County. An error occurred while uploading data from Precincts 601 and 604, causing incomplete vote data to be included in the initial results. The article describe the error: "[Rob Coffman, Forsyth County's director of elections,] said that the two precincts did correctly record the votes cast for each candidate, but when the results were fed into a computer that tallies all the returns, a mistake caused the software to omit results for the 74th N.C. House District in those two precincts. That, in turn, caused the vote totals in some other races to be incorrect. The corrected totals for the two precincts will result in slight changes in the totals of a number of other political contests." Story Archive
11/6/2008 Machine malfunction IN ESS Wayne County. When local officials tried to tally the vote they received a "system error" message. They stopped the count, secured the votes and then had to wait for an answer to the problem from company officials at Election Systems & Software, which provided the computer system for the local election. The call to officials in Omaha, Neb., took well over an hour. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction KS ESS Crawford County. A programming defect between the ballot cards (run through the M100) and the iVotronic electronic voting machines in three precincts at a Pittsburg ward may have switched the votes in certain local races. Story Archive

Update 11/7/08: The scanners were not programmed to handle the rotation of candidates on the ballots. The error affects four races; only the County Attorney's race is close. Story Archive Story2 Archive2

Update 11/9/08. Officials found another tabulation error. One of the backup scanners might not have read votes on the Arma sales tax question. Story Archive

Update 11/12/08. Only 14 votes separates the two candidates for the County Attorney's race. The county will hand recount that race on the nearly 16,000 ballots scanned by the M100 optical scanners. Story Archive

11/5/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Rockingham County. The central tabulator failed to read the memory cards from the optical scanners at five of the six one-stop voting sites. The county uses M100 scanners. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Polk County. Results for the County Board of Elections flip flop twice as the county struggles with a malfunction in the computer reporting system. Rebooting seems to help, but then results flip again. Then winners are declared. County officials speculate that some of the precincts were counted twice by the software. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Craven County. Three technicians from Print Elect "jury-rigged an M-650 rapid counter with a paper clip to help speed up the absentee ballot counting process." Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction PA ESS Centre County. Officials said there was a difference in how one of the new Model 100 optical scanner machines counted the votes in the 26th precinct, as opposed to the actual number of ballots cast. Workers were counting the ballots by hand as of noon. Similar vote count problems with two other State College precincts were corrected early Wednesday. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction SC ESS Charleston County. Problems uploading data from the iVotronic touch screen machines caused officials to enter the data by hand into the central system. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction WV ESS Marion County. The system failed to read the Personal Electronic Ballot (PEB) cartridges holding the votes of 4,600 early voters. The ES&S technician on hand was unable to solve the problem. Eventually, the county officials managed to get the votes uploaded and tallied. Story Archive
More on 11/6/08. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction MN ESS Hennepin County. M-100 Optical scanners aren't working at Brooklyn Center and Buffalo. In Buffalo, lines backed up at the voting machines, despite no lines at the booths. The machine was spitting out ballots and returning error messages. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction OH ESS Franklin County. Vote-flipping reported on the iVotronic touch screen machine. One woman reported that the iVotronic flipped her vote for President. A man reported that it flipped 75% of his votes, but he caught the errors on the review screen and corrected them. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction OH ESS Franklin County. A man who voted in Grove City said the iVotronic touch screen machine shut down on him, forcing him to cast his ballot after voting on only three of eight pages. He said the same thing happened to his wife. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction OH ESS Knox County. Obama and McCain were missing from the ballots on one of the iVotronic touch screen machines at one precinct. The machine was out of order for a time because it would only cast ballots for independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction OH ESS Ohio County. Serious calibration problems with the iVotronic touch screen machines. Poll workers have to calibrate after about 10 voters. Toni Chieffalo, elections coordinator for Ohio County said, "Our poll workers were taught they need to calibrate all day long. After 10 or so voters, the machines go out of line. It takes two minutes to calibrate." Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction WV ESS Marion County. The system quit tabulating around 7:30 pm when the clerks tried to feed in the results of early voting. Officials don't know why. Story Archive
11/1/2008 Machine malfunction NC ESS Guilford County. Vote-flipping on the iVotronic touch screen machine. "three more voters told Guilford County GOP Chairman Bill Wright that machines switched presidential votes at Pleasant Garden Town Hall and Friendly Center in Greensboro. With help, voters corrected their ballots." Story Archive
10/28/2008 Machine malfunction TX ESS Jefferson County. Vote-flipping from Obama to McCain on the iVotronic touch screen machine. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
10/28/2008 Machine malfunction WI ESS Dane County (Madison). Malfunctioning AutoMark ballot marker prevents a blind woman from casting her vote privately. First it displayed an error message. Then it ran out of ink and wouldn't print the ballot. The county's chapter of the National Federation of the Blind has received other calls about this same problem. Story Archive
10/26/2008 Machine malfunction WV ESS Monongalia and Greenbrier Counties. Vote-flipping on the iVotronic touch screen machines. From the article: "In recent days, at least 14 voters from Jackson, Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties have told The Charleston Gazette that ES&S machines switched their votes from Democratic to Republican candidates. No one has contacted The Gazette to say a voting machine flipped Republican votes to Democratic candidates. In each case, county poll workers helped the voters correct their ballots. But several worried that others might not notice switched votes." Story Archive Story2 Archive2
10/25/2008 Machine malfunction TN ESS Davidson County. An iVotronic touch screen malfunctioned and didn't let a voter see her ballot, but the poll worker said she had voted. "I hit the button to go to the ballot and there was a flash," she said, adding that the screen went blank, then returned to the main menu. "I didn't see the ballot to actually choose anything." Story Archive
10/23/2008 Machine malfunction WV ESS Berkeley County. Vote-flipping on the iVotronic touch screen voting machines. Two voters in Berkeley County, West Virginia, reported that their votes for Obama were "switched" to McCain on iVotronic DRE machines, although both spotted the problem and were able to fix it after multiple tries. Story Archive

Update 10/23/08. More voters complain of vote-flipping from Obama to McCain. Story Archive

10/22/2008 Machine malfunction SC ESS Beaufort County. Votes for Bluffton Town Council candidates did not register on the review screen of the iVotronic touch screen voting machines. Even with help from poll workers, the votes didn't register. Some voters were able to cast those votes on paper ballots. Story Archive

Update 10/23/08. Officials say the machines are working properly, that in multivote contests (vote for more than one), the review screen is only supposed to show the number of candidates chosen, not their names. County Elections and Voter Registration director Agnes Garvin attributed questions about the machines to a software limitation that affects the screen voters use to review their choices before actually casting their ballot. [Editor - A voter told us he contacted the SoS, who said this is not the way the iVotronics are supposed to operate.] Story Archive

10/22/2008 Machine malfunction TN ESS Decatur County. Vote-flipping on the iVotronic touch screen machine. At least three voters attempted to vote for McCain for president and saw the light for Obama light up instead. Some officials suggest that the viewing angle of the screen makes it difficult to know where voters are touching. Story Archive

Update 10-25-08. Reports from local investigators to VotersUnite indicate that this story is a hoax and that the county registrar concurs.

10/21/2008 Machine malfunction TN ESS Davidson County (Nashville). Vote-flipping on the iVotronic paperless voting machine. Patricia Earnhardt pressed the button for Obama multiple times, yet it didn't highlight. She called the poll worker over who did the same thing. The third time the poll worker pressed the button, the box beside Cynthia McKinney lit up -- several rows down. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
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