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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
11/5/2009 Vote suppression FL Diebold Sarasota County. Kathy Dent, supervisor of elections, discovered in pre-election testing that the Diebold scanners did not scan properly when the ovals were filled in with blue ink. Nevertheless, the instructions for filling out the ballot recommended that voters use "a blue or black pen." Story
10/17/2009 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Sarasota County. In pre-election testing, they county found that the OSX scanners failed to read marks made with blue ink. The county's solution is to watch for ballots with blue ink, reproduce them with black ink and run them through the scanners. But the problem is intermittent. One ballot failed to scan properly, but scanned successfully the second time. The machines were Diebold/Premier AccuVote OSX Digital Scan Tabulator (Hardware Model A) with Firmware 1.0.2 . Story Archive
11/8/2008 Malfeasance FL Wakulla County. Two days after the polls closed, an orange bag filled with ballots was discovered at the elections office in Crawfordville. "Already three bags stuffed with votes had arrived with different seals on them. And it took nearly two hours for those ballots to be delivered from a precinct in Sopchoppy, 20 minutes away — 10, if you take the back roads." Two races are in the middle of a recount, one with a margin of eight votes. Story Archive
11/5/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Hillsborough County. Students at the University of South Florida were still in line to vote at 10:30 p.m., and elections officials said computer problems were causing delays. Among the problems: elections officials had to break up early voting results into smaller pieces to prevent crashing the computer system, and about 150 optical scanners had trouble transmitting results and had to be manually taken to the elections office. Story Archive

More problems with vote tabulation for 13 early voting machines and problems accessing votes at two outstanding precincts. Story2 Archive2 Story3 Archive3 Story4 Archive4

Update 11/6/08. Tabulation is still not done. Elections workers began re-entering nearly 80,000 two-page ballots into the machines Thursday morning. Two state senators are calling on Governor Charlie Crist to get involved in Hillsborough County’s election. County Supervisor of Elections Johnson blames Premier, the company that makes the optical scan machines. But Premier is blaming the elections office for trying to upload too many votes at once, and for mixing early voting and Election Day ballots. Story Archive

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
11/4/2008 Ballot printing FL Broward County. A batch of about 40 paper ballots had one proposed change to Florida's constitution (Amendment 3) printed twice. Optical scanners rejected the ballots. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Deceptive practices FL Broward County. A man in the voter line of a predominantly African-American precinct was telling voters they were supposed to vote at a different location. Some voters received robo-calls last night telling them Democrats were supposed to vote on Wednesday. Story Archive
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 FL Optical scan machine failures are one of the leading issues facing voters in counties across Florida, according to Election Protection. Voters have reported malfunctioning optical scan machines and massive machine breakdowns in over 35 separate precincts and 25 counties in some of the most populous counties including Orange, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, and Sarasota. Story Archive
11/4/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Manatee County. When officials attempt to upload the vote data from memory cards into the central tabulator, they get an error message that prevents them from tallying the votes. About 2/3 of the county's ballots are affected. Officials say this has not happened before. Story Archive

Update 11/5/08. As many as 50,000 ballots are not yet counted. The results of the election could be delayed in several races, including Palmetto mayor and commission seats, a Bradenton Beach commission seat and in the multi-county races for Florida House District 69 and the public defender’s post. Story Archive

Update 11/5/08. Diebold/Premier eventually figured out the problem was caused by the software's inability to handle a candidate dropping out of a small race for fire commissioner after the computer program was written. Story Archive Story2 Archive2

Update 11/6/08. A simple change in one Manatee County race, where a candidate dropped out last week, caused the Premier software program known as GEMS to lock up. That prevented the counting of 46,000 ballots on Tuesday night, Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat said. Story3 Archive3

11/4/2008 Paper ballots (late) FL Reported to 1-866-OURVOTE: Absentee voters still haven't received absentee ballots. Story
11/4/2008 Too few machines FL Broward County. 400 people were in line at a predominantly African-American polling place in Deerfield Beach. One voting machine was there to accommodate them. Later in the day, seven more machines were delivered. Story Archive
11/2/2008 Accessibility FL Reported to VotersUnite: My wife and I waited over 3.5 hours to early vote at the Miramar City Hall in Miramar, FL. As a diabetic, I obviously have health issues. A poll volunteer was alerted by my wife that I am diabetic and offered to get us in the front of the line so at least I could sit down while waiting to vote. The volunteer was informed by the polling supervisor that "he did not care that I was a diabetic" and refused to let me and my wife in. There had to be at least a 4 to 5 hour wait at our original point in the line.

Because of this, we will not vote in this election. My constitutional right to vote has been denied.

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

10/31/2008 Paper ballots (late) FL Reported to VotersUnite: After spending hours in long lines prior to me leaving for a two week business trip, I requested an absentee ballot. I requested this ballot on Oct 24, 2008. As of today, I still have not received the absentee ballot. I have attempted to call the Board of Elections staying on hold for over 20 mintues. I also left a voice mail and sent e-mail to discuss this issue with a Board of Elections official. So far no results.

Update 11/03/08. It is now the day prior to the election and still no absentee ballot. I have not received any communication or response from the Broward County Board of Elections. I am currently on hold utilizing the number for Absentee Ballots. I have not received any response to my request for assistance or communication via e-mail or phone! I am officially desparate.

10/28/2008 Check-in problems FL Reported to VotersUnite from Broward County. I waited over 3 hours at the Halllandale Municipal Building for early voting. Brenda Snipes' large form says that a picture ID on a debit/credit card is sufficient. I was turned away as they said I needed a Driver's License. I am disabled but have a Bank of America picture ID debit/credit card. I called Dr. Snipe's office for two days and got the same recording without any option to leave a message. I, subsequently, called the Hollywood and Deerfield Beach numbers to lodge a complaint. It was only because I had my voter registration card that they allowed me to vote.
10/25/2008 Deceptive practices FL Reported to VotersUnite: While canvassing Broward County voters for the Obama campaign, many of us spoke with voters who had "already cast their ballots over the phone." Apparently they had been called and told that they had the option of casting their votes on the phone with the caller, and now that they had done so, had no need to go to the polls on election day. We gently informed them that this was not possible, gave them the number of the local registrar, and reported the incident to the authorities.
10/24/2008 Provisional ballots FL Lee County. Poll workers told a woman that she could only vote a provisional ballot since an absentee ballot had been sent to her home in Connecticut, but she had not requested an absentee ballot and did not receive it. Her husband was allowed to vote. A poll worker told her "this had been happening to other people, too." Story Archive
10/23/2008 Ballot printing FL Polk County. Last week, Polk County sent out about 40,000 absentee ballots that did not include a nonpartisan statewide question. The county is sending out corrected ballots to those voters. Story Archive
10/22/2008 Ballot printing FL Sarasota County. Election Supervisor omitted the State Senate District 23 race between Republican Nancy Detert and Democrat Morgan Bentley from absentee ballots sent out to voters. Neither campaign was informed by Dent's office and are still wondering how extensive the problem is. Detert said she had noticed her race was not included in the sample ballot she received and that a supporter had called her complaining about the omission. Dent's office is sending out letters to the affected voters, along with a complete ballot. Story Archive
10/20/2008 E-pollbook FL ESS Miami-Dade County. Shortage of check-in computers cause long lines. Miami Beach - Two of the four check-in computers at one early voting site were not working at the start of the day. Story Archive Story Archive
10/20/2008 E-pollbook FL ESS Broward County. Computer used to check-in voters are malfunctioning, causing long lines on the first day of early voting. Story Archive

10-21-08. Lines up to 3˝ hours long continued to plague early voting across Broward County on Tuesday. Some voters gave up and left. Story Archive

10/20/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Duval County. (Jacksonville.) 7 of 15 OSX ballot-reading machines used for early voting would not read ballots, indicating the ballots were too long -- and causing long lines. Officials say they tested the machines and that the ballots are the standard size - 17 inches. Officials say Diebold needs to correct the problem. Long The problem continued the following day, with scanners refusing to read ballots (see Story 2). Story Archive Story2 Archive2

Leon County. The same problem is occurring here and other places in the state where the OSX is used. Story Archive Story2

Update 10/21/08. Officials are saying the machines' tolerance for improperly loaded ballots is too low. Story Archive

10/20/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Flagler County. New scanners are unable to read some ballots. Officials think they are too sensitive to variations in the physical length of the ballot. (Same problem as in Duval and Leon Counties.) Story Archive
9/4/2008 Machine malfunction FL ESS Broward County. As required by Florida law, the Supervisor of Elections conducted a three-hour manual spot-check of results from 16 of the public defender race's 779 precincts, or about 2 percent. "Of the 16 chosen precincts — picked by drawing pieces of paper from a box — nine mirrored machine results while the other seven resembled original results by 95 percent or more." Thus in about 1% of the precincts, with just one race checked, the machine count was wrong by as much as 5%. Story Archive
9/1/2008 Malfeasance FL Broward County. Ellen H. Brodsky, an unaffiliated candidate challenging incumbent Brenda Snipes for supervisor of elections in the Nov. 4 general election, was illegally barred from observing the judicial race hand recount, in violation of Florida law. BBV Archive
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.

8/28/2008 Poor design FL Sequoia Indian River County. 5000 votes were counted twice when results were uploaded to the central office. 40 precincts did a test of the modem system before doing the real transfer. The central office computer accepted both sets of results and added them. Story Archive Story2 Archive

Update 9/6/08. The number of votes counted twice in the Indian River County election now stands at 10,737 — which is double the votes the county elections office reported a week ago. Story2 Archive

8/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Brevard County. Touch screen machines in 50 precincts fail to transmit results to the central office by modem. This problem has occurred in previous elections. Story Archive
8/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL ESS Pinellas County. 12 scanners (new DS200) had to be replaced, according to county elections spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock. Some experienced paper jams, she said, and on some the screens froze. Story Archive
8/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL ESS Pasco County. Five DS200 scanners broke down. Eighteen weren't able to transmit results via modem. "poll workers had to pull out the thumb drive and take it to the elections office — although in one case it took three trips, because of confusion over who had the thumb drive." Story Archive
8/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Hillsborough County. An hour after the polls closed in Hillsborough, Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson told reporters that his optical scan vote counting system had developed a computer problem that was preventing it from posting the tallies electronically — and he blamed Premier Voting Solutions. "I haven't been able to get a straight answer from Premier, but I will by the end of the night," he said. "I expect them to fix this issue. We've paid a lot of money." Story Archive
Premier/Diebold admitted it was a problem with the equipment -- an incompatibility between the precinct scanners and the scanners used to tabulate absentee ballots. Story Archive Archive2 Archive3
8/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold Sarasota County. When workers tried to count absentee ballots on election night, the optical scan machines would not communicate with the server. So more than 10,000 absentee ballots had to be hand-counted. "We could not get the absentee ballots totals to upload into the main server to combine all of the totals together for absentee early voting," says Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. So workers had to count them individually. Story Archive Story2 Archive2
8/12/2008 Machine malfunction FL Palm Beach County. Early voting was plagued Monday by a sluggish state computer system used to verify voters' identities. At some voting sites in Palm Beach County, delays were nearly an hour and so severe that poll workers warned prospective voters it might be easier for them to return to vote another day. Officials say the problem was resolved Monday night. Story Archive
6/27/2008 Machine malfunction FL Sequoia Palm Beach County. About 700 votes for three precincts (14% of the total votes) weren't counted on election night after Tuesday's special city commission election. According to elections office spokeswoman Kathy Adams, the cartridges from those precincts hadn't been counted on election night when all the cartridges were brought to a tabulation center to be "read" by vote-counting machines. She said the office didn't know why the cartridges weren't read properly the first time. She said it was possible that one reader wasn't working properly and that all three cartridges were read by that reader. Story Archive
Update June 18. Recounting the cartridges added 707 votes, but did not change any outcomes. Story2 Archive2
6/4/2008 (Other) FL Pinellas County. Two malicious software programs (worms) were found on the central tabulation system. "The two bugs, known as Flush.G and W32.SillyDC, work in tandem and go from computer to computer redirecting Internet browsers to sites the user hasn't selected, officials said. The worm is carried through removable media like USB drives, is easily detected and, officials say, rather harmless." The worms have been removed, and the Secretary of State has released a memo (pdf) urging election supervisors across Florida to take steps, including the use of antivirus software, to protect their voting systems from corruption. Story Archive
2/27/2008 Registration errors FL Miami Dade County. Errors in the registration database caused 53 voters to mistakenly receive postcards from the department telling them they were ineligible to vote in the Feb. 12 municipal election. Story Archive
2/21/2008 Machine malfunction FL ESS Broward County. Precinct D001 shows 79 more ballots on the iVotronics than the number of registered voters -- 1011 ballots, 932 voters registered in the precinct. "Overcounts" in smaller numbers appeared in other precincts, too. Story Archive
2/9/2008 Malfeasance FL Volusia County. A poll worker failed to tell a blind woman she could vote independently on the DRE at the site. In violation of the law, the poll worker refused to allow the voter to have her father help her mark her ballot. Instead the poll worker -- without another person present -- assisted her and even gave her advice on what choices to make. Story Archive
1/31/2008 Machine malfunction FL Diebold St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties. Poll workers in several precincts in both counties were unable to transmit vote data electronically to the central office. Story Archive
Records: 1-40 of 136
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