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Audit shows issues with area voting machines  (OH)

Lynn Hulsey    Dayton Daily News    17 December 2008

DAYTON The Montgomery County Board of Elections found additional problems with voting equipment during a state ordered audit, elections director Steve Harsman said Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Problems with some voting machines' paper records and with scanners that read paper ballots, are in addition to a more serious problem reported last week when five ballots were found missing from one machine's memory card.

That problem, which occurred in a Trotwood precinct, raises reliability questions about the electronic voting machines the county bought for $6.2 million in 2005. The glitch did not change the outcome of any races.

The audit was to involve a hand count of 6.5 percent of ballots, but the board increased that number to about 10 percent after problems were found. Workers matched electronic results with the machines' paper record. In Trotwood the machine showed 43 people voted, and the paper record showed 48. When the card was put back into its original machine, it re-synced and showed the votes, a procedure that would never occur during a typical count, Harsman said.

It is the first time the "anomaly" has appeared anywhere and manufacturer Premier Election Solutions has not determined the cause, Bob Diekmann, company sales associate, told the board.

The newly discovered problem involves the paper record of ballots cast on three machines.

The paper record, which scrolls inside a canister on the machine, is supposed to clearly indicate when a voter rejects the ballot before it is cast and makes corrections. But in three cases, that did not occur, Harsman said. There is no indication that it resulted in votes being wrongly recorded in the final count.

A third problem involves Premier's scanners, which read paper ballots used by absentee, provisional and other voters. Workers found some ballots that were clearly marked with a check or X did not register as valid on the scanner. The board agreed to count those votes, and recertified the final official results with the missing votes added in.

The investigation of the problems will continue, officials said.

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