Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 09/19/04)

Miami-Dade County, Florida. September, 2002. ES&S.
Paperless electronic voting machines lose 8.2% of the votes.

An analysis of the September election by the Florida ACLU determined that 8.2% of the votes were "lost" in 31 problem precincts. Significantly more votes were lost in predominantly black areas.*

An examination of 31 problem precincts revealed at least 1,544 lost votes, approximately half of which were from African-Americans, and a "lost vote" rate of 8.2% of all voters who went to the polls and signed in to vote.

"Not only are there a significant number of missing votes, but there's also an alarming racial disparity in the errors that occurred during the last election," said Jonel Newman, the Special ACLU Staff Attorney leading the ACLU's voting probe. A team of volunteer law students from the University of Miami assisted Newman. ...

An in-depth analysis of those 31 precincts revealed that:

18,752 voters signed the rolls to vote, but only 17,208 votes were recorded. That is, 1,544 votes were lost due to election-day errors that included voters not being able to vote because working machines were not available or the failure of poll workers to cast the ballot as required when voters leave without pressing the red VOTE button. ...

While the average "lost vote" rate in the 31 targeted precincts is 8.2%, in some precincts that rate is as high as 21.5%.

* Analysis of September 10th Voting Fiasco in Miami Dade Demonstrates Disproportionate Impact on Racial Minorities, ACLU Says. October 21, 2002 Press Release.

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