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Machine vendor miscalibrated vote scanners, county officials say  (CA)

Bobby Caina Calvan    The Sacramento Bee    24 March 2008

Improper maintenance of some of Sacramento County's voting machines and the tint of the Feb. 5 ballots were to blame for malfunctions that sidelined vote-counting scanners and delayed results of last month's presidential primary, according to the county's top election official.

The problems have been corrected and the scanners are expected to be used in the June election, Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine said in a report to the county Board of Supervisors.

During a routine pre-election test in January, some ballots were being rejected or misread, including some valid votes that were not recognized at all by one particular scanner model used at precincts across the county.

Because of the malfunction, all ballots had to be counted in the election department's central command in south Sacramento instead of some being processed as usual at the precincts.

The accuracy of last month's vote was not in question, county officials said.

During its investigation, the county said that the vendor that supplies and maintains the scanners, Elections Systems & Software, conducted improper recalibration and preventive maintenance on the machines in December.

In addition, the report said that ballots printed by Consolidated Printers were too dark to allow the ballot to be correctly read by the faulty scanners.

The county said both vendors cooperated during the administrative inquiry. ESS will recalibrate the county's scanners without charge in time for the June 3 election, election officials said.

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