Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 11/28/04)

Washington. November, 2004.
New votes found in machine recount equals 35 times the new vote margin.

With 2.8 million votes cast in Washington's gubernatorial race, the initial machine count showed Dino Rossi (R) leading Christine Gregoire (D) by 261 votes. With this margin, state law requires a machine recount, so paper ballots were run through machines again, and electronic votes in two counties were recalculated. The machine recount reduced Mr. Rossi's lead to 42 votes.*

The Gregoire campaign will request (and pay for) a manual recount of the votes in some counties. Not surprisingly, the Rossi campaign sees no need for it.

"Well, the race continues," [Gregoire] said at a news conference in Seattle. "It's a 42-vote difference. My friends, it is a tied race. Some folks have suggested we ought to flip a coin or stage a duel with Senator Rossi. My personal preference is we ought to recount every single vote."

... Several members of Mr. Rossi's transition team held a news conference outside his campaign headquarters in Bellevue, east of Seattle. "The votes have been counted twice," said one team member, Kathy Lambert, a King County councilwoman. "We know very clearly who won."

Consider the astonishing fact that 1468 additional votes were 'found' in the recount -- 35 times the 42-vote margin. If the vote-tabulating machines are accurate enough to trust with our democracy, shouldn't they tabulate consistently from one count to the next?

Discounting the 700 ballots not included in King County's first count (why weren't they included?) and the 261 votes not included in Snohomish County's initial count, four counties 'lost' a total of 96 votes, and 32 counties 'found' 1564 votes. Only three counties' totals remained unchanged (one punch card, one optical scan, one e-voting).

Where did the new votes come from? Where did the old votes go? Only a manual recount can answer those questions.

One more question: Why is Gregoire required to pay for the manual recount? If King and Snohomish counties had included all their ballots in the original count, based on the percentages of the county totals, the margin would have been about 138 votes, and the state would have paid for a manual recount.

* Washington state recount page.

** Margin Now Just 42 Votes in Washington State Race. New York Times. November 25, 2004. By Sarah Kershaw.

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