Voting Machine Mess-up Du Jour (Displayed 12/04/04)

Snohomish County, Washington. December, 2004. Sequoia.
Touch screen voting wastes time, money, and paper in a manual recount.

Washington state is preparing for a full manual recount of the votes for Governor. Two counties, Snohomish and Yakima, use electronic voting machines on election day. The process for conducting a manual recount of the votes in Snohomish (which uses Sequoia touch screens) requires printing out over 96,000 ballots before the counting can begin.*

County officials estimate that this process will take five printers working off of five different computers for five days just to print the ballots. Each ballot will be printed on a separate sheet of 8-1/2" by 11" paper.

The county Auditor's Office estimates it will churn through 20 cases of paper to create hard-copy ballots of all the votes cast on touch-screen machines.

Laid end to end, all those printouts would stretch 16.7 miles. Stacked, they would form a tower about three stories tall.

Only Yakima County, which also uses touch-screen machines, will face a similar, but smaller, printing job, Diepenbrock said.

The irony is that this effort is a serious waste of the county's time, energy, money, and paper. If the computerized voting machines recorded the votes incorrectly, the printed ballots will contain those same errors. Voter intent is not being validated, since there is no way to validate it.

This exercise in futility is precisely comparable to printing out your Excel spreadsheet and checking that the numbers on the screen match the numbers on the printout.

* Touch-screen votes give county a daunting task. Everett Herald. December 4, 2004. By Scott North.

See: Sequoia in the News

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