Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 07/24/04)

Hawaii. November 1998.
ES&S Model 100 Precinct-count optical scanners.

Machines malfunctioned on election night, but a partial manual audit failed to find irregularities. Later, a mechanical test of the machine also showed no problems. A second mechanical test found the problem, which led to the first-ever state-wide recount. Excerpts:*

Tom Eschberger, a vice president of Election Systems & Software, which provided the computers for the election, said a test conducted soon after the election on the software and the machine that malfunctioned in a Waianae precinct showed the machine worked normally.

He said the company did not know about the problem with the machine until after the Supreme Court-ordered recount, when a second test on the same machine detected the malfunction. He said the company is still investigating.

Eschberger said unforeseen problems with a new machine can happen. "But again, in all fairness, there were 7,000 machines in Venezuela and 500 machines in Dallas that did not have problems," he said.

Yoshina [chief election officer] noted the machines were certified by the Federal Elections Commission. "I would hope that because an independent testing authority had tested the system and it was certified, that all these things are fully tested," he said.

Since then, Hawaii has been using the ES&S Model 100 in all counties. Tom Eschberger is the vendor representative for the state.

* Voting checks failed to detect fault twice: A flawed ballot counter passed a manual check and a mechanical test. Star-Bulletin; Wednesday, February 3, 1999; By Craig Gima.

** Statement by Marion Higa, State Auditor, and Chair of Elections Oversight Committee. March 15, 1999.

See: ES&S 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