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Voting machines absolved of blame (NJ)
NJ.com. November 6, 2009. STAFF WRITER
Original: http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-18/1257489916149420.xml&coll=5

TRENTON A technological problem did cause a miscount of votes from 97 voting machines Tuesday, but the discrepancy was not the fault of Sequoia Voting Systems machines, county and state officials said yesterday.

A day after Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello accused the Sequoia system of causing repeated and "unacceptable" vote-count problems, she reversed herself and said the company's devices had operated correctly Tuesday night.

"There were no problems found with the voting machines, voting machine cartridges or the cartridge readers," she said in a press release.

The cartridge readers did produce counts of zero votes in districts spread through 10 municipalities, but they only did in response to an as-yet unknown problem in their connection to a county computer server, said Robert Giles, director of the state Division of Elections.

The cartridge readers detected a power surge or some other anomaly and went into a "review" mode where they only give out readings of zero votes, Giles said. He visited the clerk's office yesterday morning, along with Sequoia staffers.

"If there's any kind of an issue during transmission, like if the transmission doesn't go through clearly, it's going to put it into review," he said.

According to Sollami-Covello, the Sequoia system initiated an "automated fail-safe" process that preserved voting data but sent zeros to the server.

Giles compared the zero vote reports to unsuccessful e-mails.

"You send an e-mail and it didn't get there. You don't know why you didn't, and that's what they're looking into now," he said.

No votes were at risk of being lost, since the correct voting totals were available on paper-tape back-ups that all the county's voting machines create. However, the vote totals Sollami-Covello's office posted online after the election were initially incorrect.

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