Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 10/05/04 - 10/08/04)

Hillsborough County, Florida. September, 2004. Sequoia.
Cause of high undervotes remains a mystery.

High percentages of undervotes in the primary election present the county with an unanswerable question since the paperless machines provide no method of doing an audit.*

Hillsborough's undervote on countywide contests ranged from 9 percent in the race that re-elected State Attorney Mark Ober, to a whopping 17.5 percent in the race in which Charles "Ed" Bergmann was elected circuit judge.

In Pinellas County, which uses Sequoia machines, the undervote on countywide contests ranged from 9.1 percent in a School Board race to 13 percent in a judicial contest.

The question is: Why?

Are voters refusing to vote? Or are votes not registering on electronic machines?

... People just undervote," [Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy] Johnson said.

Rob MacKenna, an Eckerd Corp. computer programmer who is the Democratic challenger to Johnson, strongly disagrees. ... MacKenna's skepticism about the cause of the undervote stems from the presidential preference primary last March, where a single question was listed on the ballot but where 255 Hillsborough voters, or 0.76 percent of the turnout, had no vote tabulated. Had 255 residents driven to the polls, signed in, walked to the touch screen machine, then decided to abandon the whole idea?

MacKenna refuses to believe it.

* Voting mystery stirs call for paper trail. St. Petersburg Times. October 4, 2004. By Jeff Testerman, Times Staff Writer.

See: Sequoia in the News

At the end of the day,
it's better to have hanging chads
than no chads at all.
~ Scot Petersen, eWeek News Editor,
in "E-Voting Underachieves."