Voting Machine Malfunction

Yakima County, Washington. November 2004, Hart Intercivic Ballot Now.
Vertical white line on scanned images caused tally errors.

When the votes for Governor were recounted manually, it was discovered that the Ballot Now system had failed to read the votes on 24 scanned ballots. A white line extending the length of the page had caused the ballots to be treated as "damaged." However, rather than set up the system so that election officials examined the damaged ballots, the administrator had turned on the "autoresolve" feature, and the Ballot Now system misread the voters' intents.*

The county consulted with Hart Intercivic about the problem. On June 15, 2005, Travis Harrell, a manager at Hart InterCivic, reported the results of an investigation his company had been carrying out.**

1. The scanned ballot images of the 24 ballots in question (Batch 86, Pct 3301) all contain a white vertical line spanning the entire length of the ballot. The line runs directly through the left portion of all option boxes in the 4th column of each ballot. The line was most likely caused by a small foreign object (dirt or paper debris) in the scanner that subsequently dislodged. The attached image shows the line clearly and is representative of all 24 ballots.

2. Since the white line "whited out" a portion of each option box, Ballot Now was unable to detect at least 90 percent of each "target box" and therefore classified each contest in the 4th column of each ballot as a Damaged Contest.

VotersUnite contacted Kodak, which makes the scanner, and was told that dirt in the scanner would cause a black line — not a white line — to extend the length of the image. Thus, the cause of the failure remains in question.

October 2005 update: VotersUnite received information pointing out that the User’s Guide for the Kodak scanner points out that a white vertical line on the image can be caused by a dirty imaging guide. The manual recommends that the imaging guide — and other internal part of the scanner — be cleaned after eight hours of use.

Apparently, neither Hart Intercivic’s Travis Harrel nor the Yakima County elections staff had read the user manual for the scanner.

* Hart InterCivic Optical-Scan Has A Weak Spot. July 5, 2005. by John Gideon, Information Manager,

** Email from Mr. Harrell to Diana Soules, Yakima County Election Manager.

See: Hart Intercivic 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