Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 07/01/04)

Jasper County, South Carolina. June, 2004.
MicroVote Infinity Direct Record Electronic Voting Machine (DRE)

Results of the June 8 election were certified before the county noticed that there were 1500 'phantom votes.' The voting machine counted more ballots than the number of voters who signed in to vote.

Some 521 people voted in the Ridgeland 1 precinct's County Council Pocotaligo race, according to the Election Commission's original election certification on June 10. Some 432 voted in the council's Hardeeville race at the precinct. And, 548 voted in the precinct for the council's at-large race.

Yet, the precinct's voter sign-in sheet shows that only 298 people actually voted there.

..."Evidently, it was a (voting) machine error," Jasper Election Commission Chairman Lawrence Bowers said.

...Election Commission Vice Chairwoman Barbara Pinckney said Friday she doesn't know where the 1,500 phantom votes came from. "But they didn't change outcomes or the percentages," she said.

But, in fact, they did in at least one race - the County Council at-large seat between incumbent Gladys Jones and challengers Samuel Gregory and D.P. Lowther.*

Ms. Pickney's claim is further contradicted by a later article:

Although initial election results from the primary earlier this month showed Jones in the lead with 1,661 votes to Gregory’s 1,470, a recount last week had Gregory bettering the incumbent, 1,139 votes to 1,079.

The county Democratic Party called for the recount after a series of mistakes in how the election was run including a log-in book showing a total of 521 votes cast by only 298 voters and, in the Gillisonville precinct, a race in which three candidates all received 111 votes each, was detected.**

VotersUnite! wondered how a recount was done on paperless MicroVote DREs, so we spoke with Cathy Morgan, Jasper County Election Supervisor. Ms. Morgan said that they used the tapes from the machines, since the number of ballots recorded on individual tally tapes matched the number of voters. The problem had occurred when the precinct totals were accumulated in the central tabulation computer. Vote data from a previous election had been not been deleted and those votes were included in the 2004 totals.

* Recount shows massive error in Jasper voting. Ridgeland: 1,500 phantom votes were cast in last week's election. Carolina Morning News. July 19, 2004. By Mark Kreuzwieser.

** Jones defends seat in Jasper squeaker. Beaufort Gazette. June 23, 2004. By Omar Ford, staff writer.

See: MicroVote in the News


... the system we have for testing and certifying
voting equipment in this country
is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent.
~ Michael Shamos
to the U.S. House Science subcommittee
on June 24, 2004