Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 10/17/04)


Napa County, California. March, 2004. Sequoia.
Optical scanners passed pre-election tests but failed to detect 6,692 votes.

The machines failed to record votes marked with dye-based ink. The error was found during a manual recount used to verify accuracy. After counting 60 ballots, officials discovered that the number of votes didn't match the votes recorded by the machines.

[Napa Registrar of Voters John] Tuteur said the machine dropped 6,692 votes out of a total of 468,001 votes cast on the more than 13,000 absentee ballots. He added that there was no pattern to the dropped votes: They spanned federal, state and county races and affected various candidates and ballot measures.*

Prior to the election, a Sequoia technician ran test ballots through the machine to calibrate its reading sensitivity, but failed to test for gel ink.**

This incident is only one of the many indications that pre-election testing MUST be supplemented with post-election auditing of the actual results.

* E-Vote Snafu in California County. Wired News; March 18, 2004; By Kim Zetter.

** Lost E-Votes Could Flip Napa Race. Wired News; March 15, 2004; By Kim Zetter.

See: Sequoia in the News


A common practice for local election officials
is to let election companies run their election
make up their ballot, set up their machines,
and even count their tallies.
This is a dangerous practice."
~ Ted Selker