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E-voting glitch turns up in Texas
CNet.News November 16, 2006

As elections officials continue their post-mortems on last Tuesday's race, another irregularity in electronic voting machine tallies has surfaced.

In Williamson County, Texas, located just north of Austin, elections officials are blaming a software glitch in the region's touch-screen machines for counting each electronically-cast vote not just once, but three times, the Austin American-Statesman (registration required) reported in its Wednesday edition.

County officials uncovered the hiccups on the day after the election, when they found that the number of reported votes was higher than the number of people who signed at their polling places.

As a result of the glitch, the total count for votes cast was about 91,000, when it should have been closer to 84,500. (Most of the county's votes were actually cast on paper ballots, according to the report.) Elections officials said the discrepancy wouldn't affect the outcome of any races because the triple-counting did not skew the percentages of votes cast for each candidate.

A representative for Election Systems & Software, the company that manufactures the paperless iVotronic machines accused of malfunctioning, told the Austin newspaper that the company believed the error was due to a human "procedural error in operating the software," not the software itself. Elections officials said they would review their training procedures.

Meanwhile, in Sarasota County, Fla., elections officials continue to scrutinize a close U.S. House of Representatives race between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan. After the polls closed, leaving Buchanan with a lead of less than 400 votes, officials revealed the existence of more than 18,000 undervotes. The high number drove Jennings and advocacy groups to suspect problems with the paperless touch-screen machines there, also made by ES&S, and to call for an investigation.

Both episodes have prompted renewed calls for electronic machines equipped with voter-verified paper audit trails. On Wednesday, Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat in the House, urged swift passage of federal legislation he proposed last year that would require paper receipts and other steps designed to boost security of so-called "black box" electronic systems.

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