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DCBOEE Issues Statement; Nickles Investigating Voting Irregularities  (DC)

DCist    10 September 2008

After huddling behind closed doors and ignoring media inquiries for most of the day, the DCBOEE has issued a statement on last night's voting irregularities.

    From: DC Board of Elections and Ethics Date: September 10, 2008 Contact: Dan Murphy (202) 727-2511 dmurphy@dcboee.org

    Analysis of the Unofficial Election Night Results from the September 9,
    2008 District of Columbia Congressional and Council Primary Election

    After conducting a thorough review of all of precinct cartridges, the DC Board
    of Elections and Ethics is satisfied that the last unofficial results report released on
    Election Night provided an accurate representation of the votes that were cast
    and counted. The Board stands by this report.

    During election night, it is the Board’s standard practice to generate unofficial
    results reports, and to thereafter conduct an internal audit process to verify the
    accuracy of the results contained in these reports. During this process, it was
    determined that one defective cartridge caused vote totals to be duplicated
    into multiple races on the summary report issued by our office. The Board
    immediately caught and addressed this error, as is reflected in the last unofficial
    results report issued on Election Night.

    Errol R. Arthur, Board Chairman, stated, “Both the Board and Sequoia Voting
    Systems are currently conducting comprehensive reviews into how the cartridge
    reading error occurred. We will continue to work with them to identify how to
    prevent this issue in future elections.”

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced earlier today that acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles is investigating how and why the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics initially reported thousands of apparently erroneous write-in results in yesterday's primary. Indeed, those who were watching closely last night as the DCBOEE d the election returns on its new web site saw that there were an extremely high number of write-in votes recorded in the early results: something like 1,500 write-ins in the Ward 2 Dem race, slightly fewer in the At-large GOP race, and around 1,000 in the Shadow Senator Dem race, too. All of those numbers have since been revised down. The DCBOEE sent around what looked like revised results early this morning, although they still say 142 out of 143 precincts reporting. Ward 2 now shows only 14 write-in votes, the GOP At-large race has 18, and the Dem Shadow Senator contest has 404.

Photo by brownpau

The initial explanation from the DCBOEE last night was that there was one precinct, located in the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets NW, that experienced a problem with its ballot scanning machines, which led to the incorrect vote tally. The Reeves Center is located inside Ward 1, but it seems as though it actually serves as a Ward 2 precinct. Assuming this is the same precinct where the single "defective cartridge" caused the problem the DCBOEE is now describing, it's possible a problem there could be the reason for last night's fiasco, although it doesn't explain why no one noticed the problem before results from that precinct were recorded.

The DCBOEE statement is missing a lot of details: was the Reeves Center precinct the one where the defective cartridge was located? Is that the same precinct that is currently missing from the unofficial results posted on the DCBOEE web site as of this afternoon? How exactly did the defective cartridge cause all those additional votes to be spread around various city-wide races, and furthermore, what will be done to ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen again in November?

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