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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
11/27/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia St Lawrence County. ImageCast ballot scanners broke down in eight election districts. A comparison of details from the election suggests that the machines miscounted votes in others -- adding votes in some, missing votes in others. Story Archive
11/25/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia St. Lawrence County. Phantom votes (more votes than voters) reported in six election districts in the NY-23 congressional contest. Story Archive
11/25/2009 Poor design NY Sequoia ImageCast ballot scanners don't count undervotes. They calculate them based on the number of votes for candidates -- eliminating an important double-check on the vote count. Story Archive
11/13/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Lewis, Seneca and Schuyler Counties. The ImageCast ballot scanners failed. According to Anna E. Svizzero, state elections operation director, the primary cause of voting machine failure was a memory issue related to the way ballots were programmed to record multiple votes for one office. Story Archive

Update Nov. 20, 2009. "The issue was a bug in the Dominion source code that caused the machine to hang while creating ballot images for certain vote combinations in multiple candidate elections." The bug was discovered during pre-election testing, and ballot configuration files were modified in some machines, freeing up enough memory to prevent the hang. But not all machines with the problem were identified, so the malfunction occurred on election day in those machines. Story

11/10/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Broome County. Hand counts revealed the ImageCast ballot scanners in five voting districts had miscounted votes. In some cases, the machines had rejected valid ballots. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NJ Sequoia Mercer County (Trenton). Memory cartridges from Advantage e-voting machines reported zero totals in 10 municipalities, even though there were votes on the machines. Vote totals were available on paper tapes printed at the machines. Story Archive

Update 11/6/09. Sequoia explained that there was an "as yet unknown problem in the connection to the county server", and when the transmission didn't go through clearly, the cartridges went into "review" mode. Story Archive

11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Cayuga County. ImageCast ballot scanners crashed. Some rejected valid ballots that other machines accepted. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Fulton County. ImageCast ballot scanners were impounded after it was found they were not working properly. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Lewis County. ImageCast ballot scanners malfunctioned at two polling stations. Story Archive
11/4/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Steuben County. The ImageCast ballot scanner in the first ward malfunctioned. Totals may not be known for weeks. Story Archive
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Oneida County. At the Vernon polling place, none of the three ImageCast optical scanners would operate. Story Archive
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Broome County. ImageCast ballot scanners sensed defects in the paper and rejected valid ballots. "And so because it picks up the defects, it doesn't pick up what people are voting for, and we have to void it and give them another paper," said Sweeney. Story Archive
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia St. Lawrence County. ImageCast ballot scanner malfunctions prevented the county from having election results by the end of election day. Story Archive
11/3/2009 Machine malfunction VA Sequoia Essex, Somerset and Gloucester counties. A "handfull" of Sequoia AVC Advantage e-voting machines malfunctioned at start up in all three counties. Story Archive
9/16/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Washington County. Sequoia/Dominion optical scanner jammed and delayed the posting of results. "They couldn’t get the paper out," Board of Elections Commissioner Donna English said of the machine malfunction. "That happens a lot of the time. The custodian got there and got it straightened out." Story Archive
9/15/2009 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Broome County. During the "pilot" using uncertified equipment, Sequoia/Dominion ImageCast ballot marking devices/optical scanners malfunctioned in several precincts. At Seton Catholic High School, the machine was out of operation for an hour with memory card problems. At Davis College in Johnson City, the machine didn't start up properly. "Just turn it on and it will do it's things, well it didn't do it's thing." said Broome County Election Inspection Chair David Aswad. Story Archive
6/3/2009 Machine malfunction NJ Sequoia Monmouth County. Results from a half-dozen towns were delayed because of problems in transmitting data from Sequoia Advantage electronic voting machine cartridges. In several cases after the polls closed Tuesday the cartridges had to be physically transported to central election offices in Freehold. "I'm not sure what the problem was, but the cartridges weren't being read correctly," Allentown Borough Clerk Julie Martin said. Story Archive

Update 6/5/09. The county is planning a special mock election in hopes of figuring out what keeps going wrong in reporting results from real elections. Story Archive

4/7/2009 Machine malfunction WI Sequoia Fond du Lac County. A few places were unable to modem results to the central office, which County Clerk Lisa Freiberg said, "is basically the same story all the time." Also, on one AVC Edge touch screen machine, the screen wasn't working. Story Archive
11/11/2008 Machine malfunction DC Sequoia Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh's staff uncovered several missing or incomplete voting results from several precincts in last week's election, she said. Cheh is demanding an explanation from Sequoia Voting Systems. Story Archive

Update 11/12/08. Officials are concerned that irregularities may indicate larger problems in the District's election software. For example: In Single-Member-District 6B11, which houses the District of Columbia Jail, the final unofficial election results showed no precinct reporting and 5 undervotes. Story Archive

11/10/2008 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Essex County. County commissioner complains of the unreliability, printer problems, and 180 identified defects in the Image Cast scanners. Story Archive
11/6/2008 Machine malfunction WA Sequoia Pierce County. When the office ran the new voting tabulation softwareTuesday night to count the ranked choice voting ballots, it was so slow that technicians had to add memory to the computer system. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction CA Sequoia Santa Clara County. Fifty-seven of the county's 785 Sequoia touch screen Voting Systems machines failed on Election Day, resulting in hours long delays before replacements arrived. Loose printer connections, as well as dead batteries and broken screens, caused the failures. Computer scientist Noel Runyan — who is blind and advises California's secretary of state on voting access issues — managed to vote in San Jose, despite what he called virtually inaudible voice recordings of his candidate choices and an "angry squirrel sound" in the background. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction FL Sequoia Palm Beach County. Problems with four memory cartridges from the optical scanners have prevented county election officials from posting complete unofficial results of Tuesday's race. While tests were still being done, Assistant County Administrator Brad Merriman said it is likely the ballots themselves will be run through tabulating machines later today. The bad cartridges represent thousands of votes. Story Archive
11/5/2008 (Other) NV Sequoia Washoe County. 40 of the county's 1300 memory cartridges contained no votes. One memory cartridge goes into each of the AVC Edge electronic voting machines to record the voters' choices. Story Archive Update: 11/5/08. The county discovered that those blank cartridges had not been used in any machines. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction CA Sequoia Reported to VotersUnite: I arrived at my polling place in the Mission district of San Francisco at 9:45 a.m. on 11/4/2008 I was told that the machine that tally's the votes [Sequoia Insight optical scanner] was broken and that they were waiting for a new one to arrive.
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction FL Sequoia Palm Beach County. The Insight optical scanner jammed at one polling place for much of the morning. Two other precincts reported problems (undescribed). Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction IL Sequoia Reported to VotersUnite -- vote-flipping on the Edge touch screen machine: I was at my polling place in Chicago, St. Ignatias Church on Glenwood Avenue. The worker informed me that when people voted on the machine at the start of the day, the voting machine malfunctioned. When someone pressed Obama, the machine recorded they actually voted for McCain. This was reported to City Hall; the machine was shut down and paper ballots are not being used.
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction NJ Sequoia Essex County. One of three AVC Advantage electronic voting machines malfunctioned at George Washington Carver elementary school. During the malfunction about 50 voters were asked to vote on paper.

When two machines malfunctioned at Conklin Hall near the Rutgers-Newark campus, voters were turned away and asked to come back later after the machines were replaced. Story Archive

11/4/2008 Machine malfunction NJ Sequoia Hudson County. Votes cast on AVC Advantage paperless electronic voting machine are stored on cartridges. The cartridge readers in several municipalities, including Bayonne, Union City, Secaucus, and West New York aren't working. County Clerk Barbara Netchert said her office's computer experts visited all the local clerks' offices last week and the readers were working. But now that it's game day, the system has collapsed. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Provisional ballots NJ Sequoia Burlington County. Poll workers accidentally closed the AVC Advantage electronic voting machines at the start of the day. The article says that voters were given provisional ballots. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction NY Sequoia Tompkins County. One of the ballot marking machines intended for voters with disabilities froze up during the instruction phase and could not be used. Story Archive
10/31/2008 Machine malfunction FL Sequoia Palm Beach County. High-speed optical scanners (400C) are reading the creases in absentee ballots as votes. Overvotes are being rejected and duplicated on unfolded ballots for re-scanning. (The article doesn't mention creases improperly read without causing an overvote.) Story Archive

Update 10/03/08. State Representative Mary Brandenburg requested a hand count of her race, which is on the crease on some ballots. Both Sequoia and the elections office acknowledged that if the crease could cause the machine to count a vote in that race even if the voter did not vote, but the state declined to allow a hand count. The County Board said the crease could be used for a challenge. Story Archive Story2 Archive2

10/30/2008 Paper ballots (late) DC Sequoia Voters are voting early because they haven't received their absentee ballots. Election board officials said they sent out more than 16,000 absentee ballots -- about 5,000 have been returned -- but do not know yet how many did not reach their intended destination or why not. Story Archive
10/25/2008 Paper ballots (late) CO Sequoia Denver. Sequoia said they mailed 11,000 more absentee ballots on October 16 than they actually did, an investigation into the missing ballots discovered. Sequoia promises to mail them out on Monday -- October 26, just 8 days before they must be turned in by voters. Story Archive
10/23/2008 Wrong ballot DC Sequoia A voter who lives in Ward 2 received a Ward 6 absentee ballot. This suggests an extensive problem, but officials don't know how extensive. Further, the Ward 6 ballot included a race for Ward 2 ANC commissioner, which should not have been on the Ward 6 ballot. Sequoia printed and mailed the ballots. Story Archive
10/21/2008 Too few ballots CO Sequoia Denver. Some voters who showed up at Manual High School after the polls were open for one hour were told there weren't enough ballots. One of the voters said she went back to Manual High early in the evening, "and they still didn't have the right ballots." She said an election judge told her they were going to have to get some printed. Story Archive
10/20/2008 Too few machines NV Sequoia Washoe County. Early voters stood in long lines at the main library in Reno until additional voting machines were delivered at 1 pm. Story Archive
10/10/2008 Machine malfunction LA Sequoia Vermilion Parish. A programming error caused two paperless AVC Advantage electronic voting machines to fail to count votes for seven hours. Officials seem unconcerned. "Officials say even with the missing votes, the results would have been the same." Story Story2 Archive2
9/10/2008 Machine malfunction DC Sequoia The web site reported "an extremely high number of write-in votes recorded in the early results: something like 1,500 write-ins in the Ward 2 Dem race, slightly fewer in the At-large GOP race, and around 1,000 in the Shadow Senator Dem race, too. All of those numbers have since been revised down. The DCBOEE sent around what looked like revised results early this morning, although they still say 142 out of 143 precincts reporting. Ward 2 now shows only 14 write-in votes, the GOP At-large race has 18, and the Dem Shadow Senator contest has 404."

After a closed door investigation, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics "determined that one defective cartridge caused vote totals to be duplicated into multiple races on the summary report." They called it a "vote-reading error." Many questions remain. Sequoia is investigating. (DC uses Optech 3P Eagle scanners and Edge e-voting machines.) Story Archive Story2 Archive2 Q&A to a Board Member Q&A Archive

Update 9/12/08. "Industry specialists" don't believe a single defective cartridge could add thousands of write-in votes to multiple races across party lines. Sequoia suggests, instead, that it was static discharge or human error. Q&A to a Board Member Q&A Archive

Update 9/17/08. The cause of thousands of phantom write-in votes remains unexplained. The "defective cartridge" theory appears to have been wrong. Dan Murphy, elections board spokesman said that workers ran the same cartridges through the same program but arrived at three different results. The last set, he said, was correct, and that the rationale for that decision would be explained in their report. A hand-count of paper ballots from four randomly chosen precincts showed that none of them matched the machine tallies. "In Precinct 21, which is in Ward 2, the results for 19 of 70 candidates that appeared on the ballot were off by one or two votes." Sequoia has been subpoenaed for a hearing to be held Oct. 3. Story Archive

Update 10/2/08. Four (of 144) precincts were hand-counted. Discrepancies between the optical scanner count and the manual count occurred in multiple races in all four. Report pdf

8/31/2008 Machine malfunction FL Sequoia Palm Beach County. A 17 vote margin favoring Abramson for Circuit Judge, out of 102,500 ballots cast, triggered a rescan of the ballots. The rescan showed only about 99,000 ballots cast, and the totals for the Circuit Judge contest dropped from about 90,700 to 87,800 votes. The rescan reversed the outcome, showing a 60 vote lead for Wennet. Abraham intends to file a lawsuit, since 3400 ballots "evaporated". Story Archive
Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson suggested the drop in votes could be due to scanners' sensitivity being different. But that doesn't explain why they were 3,400 fewer ballots scanned in the rescan. Story Archive Story2 Archive2

Update 9/4/08. After counting all ballots by hand, the county found 2,700 of the 3,400 missing ballots. The county intends to do a "more formal" count. Archive

Update 9/4/08. A welcome report that 2,700 of the 3,478 missing ballots had been found on Thursday was replaced with the grim news that workers had recovered only 957 ballots. Outcomes of other contests are now being questioned. Story Archive Story2 Archive2 Story3 Archive3

Update 9/5/08. The search for the missing ballots continues, with county employees searched polling locations, and elections staffers continuing to inspect their records. A check of voter registration logs from the polls is under way. So far voter totals look to be closer to the original ballot count after last Tuesday's election. A machine count of the ballots Thursday night (Sept 4) turned up nearly 3,000 fewer ballots than the original vote total after the election-- almost 500 fewer than a hand count earlier in the day. Canvassing board appears to have given up. "We can't count any more," said County Commissioner McCarty.
Wennet (hand-count winner) is pressing to certify the hand count. Abramson (election-night winner) is pressing to certify the original results. Story Archive Story2 Archive2.
Many more stories on this debacle. Update 9/12/08 AM. County officials believe they have found the missing ballots "in the county's vote-tabulating center near West Palm Beach." Story Archive

Update 9/12/08 PM. New troubles. Now there are more ballots than were counted on election night. 110 ballots recorded on a cartridge from one election day precinct weren't included in the intial count or the recount. And 139 more were found in the elections office. So, the county found a total of 249 more than were counted in either count. Story Archive

Update 10/2/08. Wennet's team did a machine recount of 262 previously rejected ballots. When the 262 ballots were fed through two tabulators used during the recounts, they rejected different numbers of ballots. All of them should have been rejected. "On the first two tests of 160 ballots, the machines accepted three ballots as good votes. On tests on 102 more ballots that should have been rejected, the machines first accepted 13 ballots as good votes and then 90 on a second run." Story Archive Story Archive

Update: 10/7/08Excellent summary of events with new information about the scanners' inconsistencies discovered during testing.

Records: 1-40 of 137
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