Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 01/04/05)

Lancaster County, Nebraska. November, 2004. ES&S.
Phantom votes are added by optical scanners.

As the optical scanners read the election-day ballots, occasionally they added votes. While County Election Commissioner David Shively explained that the software was reading ballots twice, ES&S referred to the misread as a mechanical problem.*

Inexplicably, both Shively and the Nebraska deputy secretary of state for elections, Neal Erickson, agreed that "the malfunctions were not the type that taint vote counts."

The problem, described by Shively: While machines correctly fed themselves just one ballot at a time, their software at times incorrectly detected two ballots. The machines in all cases stopped short of actually counting two ballots, Shively said, and instead responded by shutting down.

... Shively said it became clear after 2 p.m. Tuesday that problems existed. At that time, officials began testing the six machines — four for election-day ballots, two on loan from Election Systems & Software to count absentee ballots — and found that two were not correctly matching results.

That came as a surprise, Shively said, because all were tested late last week and performed well.

After consulting with ES&S, Shively decided to use the two absentee-ballot machines to speed up the election-day counting. But the problem was apparently contagious.

From about 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., the machines were purring along glitch-free, Shively said. "I thought, ‘Boy, we're back in business,'" Shively said.

Then the two-ballot problem described by Shively began, plaguing almost all the machines, drastically slowing the count.

No recount was done.

* Problem machines spur call for recount. Lincoln Journal Star. November 14, 2004. By Nate Jenkins.

See: ES&S in the News

News stories make it rapidly apparent that
electronic voting is not reliable, accurate, or secure.
Any one who claims otherwise is either uninformed or deceptive.
~ Joseph Holder