Voting Systems User Warning

Voting System: Hart InterCivic Ballot Now optical scan system, using Kodak i800 Series Scanner

Problems Found by Election Officials: During a hand recount of ballots counted in Yakima County, Washington, it was discovered that 24 properly marked ballots had been counted as undervotes and had not been tallied. An investigation was carried out by Hart InterCivic employees who looked at the ballot images. The examination revealed that 24 ballot images contained a white vertical line spanning the entire length of the ballot. The line ran through the left portion of all option boxes in the 4th column of each ballot.

Hart reported that since the white line “whited out” a portion of each option box, Ballot Now was unable to detect at least 90 percent of each “target box” and therefore classified each contest in the 4th column of each ballot as a Damaged Contest. In this case, the 4th column included contests for Congress, Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer.

Hart also confirmed that during processing of the batch in question, the option to Autoresolve Damaged Contests was selected. Consequently, Ballot Now (in Autoresolve mode) confirmed and recorded the damaged contests as undervoted.

In another reported incident, officials in Boulder County, Colorado discovered that when a fold in the ballot covers an option box, the machine may misread the ballot. Of 429 test ballots read, seven (1.6%) were misread because of such a fold.

Solutions: The Hart representative recommended a regular cleaning program for the scanner during heavy use periods. The “Kodak Series i800 Scanners User’s Guide” recommends thoroughly cleaning the scanner after every 8 hours of use. According to the troubleshooting section of the manual, the white line that caused a miscount of ballots in Yakima County can be directly attributed to dirty imaging guides. VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA agree with the Hart representative but, because people’s votes are involved we recommend a thorough cleaning more often than recommended by Kodak.

The Boulder County problem may not be as simple to fix. The county is proposing that all ballots be inspected, and any with a crease through an option box will be individually resolved.

In all cases, VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA strongly recommend that the “Autoresolve Damaged Contests” option not be selected. Any damaged or questionable ballots must be inspected by an election worker to determine why the system identified the contest as damaged.

VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA also point to both of these situations as substantial evidence for why audits MUST be conducted by hand counting a percentage of the original paper ballot batches and comparing that tally to the computer’s tally of scanned images of those ballots and to the total from the tabulator.

by John Gideon
Information Manager, VotersUnite.Org and