Site Map
Voting News
Contact Us
About Us

is NOT!
associated with

Election officials backtrack to identify voting machine glitch

By BRYAN CORBIN Evansville Courier & Press November 19, 2004

Today, election officials will try to duplicate the computer malfunction that locked up the screens of some electronic voting machines on Election Day.

The experiment is part of a larger process to diagnose causes of long lines at Vanderburgh County polling places that resulted in a flurry of voter complaints.  
County Clerk Marsha Abell estimates approximately 150 mailed-in absentee ballots were not counted because of handling errors, either by voters or by a temporary Election Office employee who was terminated. The postelection review, ordered by the Vanderburgh County Commissioners, continues today in the county election office in Evansville's Civic Center.

Officials are looking for any discrepancy between the number of people who signed in to vote at certain precincts Nov. 2 and the number of votes actually cast. "We are going to try to pull 14 precincts and hand-count the number of ballots the machine (had recorded as) cast in that precinct. We are going to compare that to the poll book and see how accurate we are," Abell said. Vanderburgh County paid $2.9 million for the touch-screen voting system. On a day of high voter turnout, 532 of the company's iVotronic touch-screen voting machines were in use. Poll workers at some precincts complained that computer screens locked up, halting the voting process, at least temporarily.

The voting machines' manufacturer, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software or ES&S, is conducting a self-review. ES&S project manager Gary Olson on Thursday downloaded the electronic votes still in the memory of individual iVotronic machines, to compare to vote totals downloaded from all machines after polls closed. Overseeing the laborious process with Olson were Tammy Barnett, the Democratic Party's representative, and Tom Massey, the Republican representative.

As they worked their way through 532 touch-screen units, Olson compiled a printout that listed the times at which votes were cast on each machine. By late Thursday afternoon, the printout was more than 1,200 pages thick. All the data collected will be presented on CD to the county for further analysis.

After a vote is cast, the iVotronic machine is supposed to automatically reset and a pollworker is to activate it for the next voter by ing a cartridge called a Personal Electronic Ballot.

Olson theorized that some pollworkers may have ed the cartridge too quickly, before the machine had reset from the previous voter, causing the program to malfunction and the screen to freeze. Olson and Abell will test that hypothesis on one machine at 9 a.m. today in the Election Office, and videotape their experiment.

Meanwhile, eight election office employees worked nearby Thursday, hand-counting approximately 72,000 names of voters who signed poll books upon entering the precincts on Election Day.

The idea is to compare that total to the number of electronic ballots counted. "In a perfect world, they would all match up; we know they will not," Abell said. The difference, Abell believes, will be voters who tired of waiting in line and left polling places without voting.

Abell confirmed, however, that an unknown number of mail-in absentee ballots (she estimated about 150) could not be counted because of technical violations involving missing signatures or initials, which the law requires to deter fraud.

In some cases, voters mailing back ballots forgot to sign the outer envelopes as required. In others, mail-in absentee ballots were not counted because they lacked the necessary two sets of initials, one each from a Republican and Democratic election worker.

Abell said that a Democratic election clerk, a temporary employee hired to work for 30 days leading up to the election, caused the snafu. The employee initialed absentee ballots but did not obtain the initials of her Republican counterpart before mailing them out to voters. The employee was terminated, Abell said.

Though ES&S's self-review is concluding today, the Vanderburgh County Commissioners voted to support a request to pay $37,500 to a Denver company to conduct an independent audit of the election. That company, SysTest Labs, originally certified ES&S's iVotronic machines. Abell opposes such an audit.

Previous Page

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


Accessibility Issues
Accessibility Issues

Cost Comparisons
Cost Comparisons

Flyers & Handouts

VotersUnite News Exclusives

Search by

Copyright © 2004-2010 VotersUnite!