Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 01/07/05)

Sarpy County, Nebraska. November, 2004. ES&S.
Phantom votes are added by optical scanners.

Election officials ended up with around 10,000 phantom votes (more votes than voters). They still don't know what went wrong.*

Johnny Boykin lost his bid to be on the Papillion City Council. The difference between victory and defeat in the race was 127 votes. Boykin says, "When I went in to work the next day and saw that 3,342 people had shown up to vote in our war, I thought something's not right."

He's right. There are not even 3,000 people registered to vote in his ward.

For some reason, some votes were counted twice.

Deputy Sarpy County Election Commissioner Ed Gilbert says, "It affected 32 of the 80 precincts. And I suppose as many as 10,000 votes."

... No one is sure exactly what went wrong.

Astonishingly, election officials are projecting a winning candidate based on the assumption that the votes were counted twice and that the outcome wouldn't be affected.

Election officials say they don't believe the glitch will impact who won and who lost any of the races. They figure that when votes were doubled in a particular race, the totals were doubled for both candidates. Vote totals would be skewed but percentages would not change.

In spite of that, the candidates want to know the real numbers.

VotersUnite contacted the Sarpy County Elections office and was told that ES&S had analyzed the problem and determined it to be "mechanical and procedural." That was all the election staff knew.

* Countinghouse Blues: Too many votes. WOWT Omaha. November 5, 2004.

See: ES&S in the News

News stories make it rapidly apparent that
electronic voting is not reliable, accurate, or secure.
Any one who claims otherwise is either uninformed or deceptive.
~ Joseph Holder