Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 09/23/04)

Putnam County, Georgia. July, 2004. Diebold.
Optical scanners and touch-screens both malfunction.

The optical scanner failed to read nine ballots.*

For Tuesday's election, the absentee and early voter ballots were counted through the optical scan system the county has used for its past elections. This also delayed vote counting because there were nine ballots that the optical reading machine could not read.

These had to be read and certified by an official ballot divining board made up of one Republican, one Democrat and one non-partisan.

Several precincts had trouble getting the touch-screen votes accumulated onto one machine. In one precinct, the accumulation problem was never resolved.

"There were a couple of precincts that had problems with what they call 'accumulating,'" Howard said [Pat Howard, Putnam County probate judge and election superintendent]. "But all of them worked through it, but one."

Howard said each machine is closed out by a poll worker at the end of voting, then a paper readout of the number of votes is printed. These numbers are checked against the number of voters who used the machine.

Then, she said the PC cards, which look like a large version of a memory card from a Sony PlayStation, are taken out of each machine and inserted into one machine. All the votes are then accumulated in that one machine and transferred to the courthouse to be accumulated with the votes from other precincts.

At precinct 4C, there was a problem with this process and eventually all the PC cards had to taken to the courthouse and accumulated there. This delayed the tallying on non-absentee votes until 10 p.m.

* Putnam County voting officials report few glitches on election night. The Union-Recorder. By Merritt Melancon. July 22, 2004.

See: Diebold 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