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Machine error could affect Crawford County attorney race (KS)
The Joplin Globe. November 7, 2008. By Greg Grisolano

GIRARD, Kan. — A programming error in the voting machines at one Crawford County polling place could swing the outcome of the county attorney’s race.

Three voting machines at Countryside Christian Church on East Fourth Street in Pittsburg were improperly programmed, and switched votes in a total of three races, according to Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle.

“They were taking results to a different candidate,” he said. “They were counting the numbers right. They just got crossed over to a different candidate.”

Pyle said the three races affected are those for Crawford County attorney, the 3rd District seat in the state House and the 2nd Congressional District seat.

In the county attorney race, Republican challenger Michael Gayoso Jr. edged incumbent Democrat John Gutierrez by 70 votes. The outcomes of the other two races — in which incumbent Democrat Julie Menghini defeated Republican Thomas Price for the state House seat, and Republican Lynn Jenkins defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda — are not in question as a result of the malfunction.

Pyle said the clerk’s office became aware of the error when workers noticed that a disproportionate number of votes from that polling place were cast for Libertarian Robert Garrard, who ran against Boyda and Jenkins.

This was the first election in which Crawford County used the Unity software system for electronic balloting. The software is provided by Election Systems and Software, an Omaha, Neb.-based company that provides election software and machines worldwide. The machines read the ballots as they are ed, and tally votes for all candidates and issues.

“We experienced a hiccup here, and we want to make sure we get it right,” Pyle said.

Gutierrez said he hopes the county clerk’s office can resolve the issue.

“I hope they can find out the true intent of the voters,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t know the mechanics of it. That’s something the county clerk’s office will have to work out.”

Gayoso said he believes he may have picked up three additional votes based on the precincts in question, but those numbers could change depending on advance ballots.

“Obviously, we’re still cautiously optimistic,” he said. “I’m not sure whether those precincts include advanced mail-in ballots. I’m not sure if those were counted incorrectly, or if those apply.”

The county attorney’s race was close enough that more than 850 provisional ballots could swing the outcome. Those ballots are still expected to be counted on Monday.


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