Voting Machine Mess-up

Montgomery County, Maryland. March, 2005. Diebold.
IT report shows that 7% of the machines malfunctioned in the county.

The IT report to the County Elections Board reveals widespread problems with the electronic voting machines on election day. Here are some excerpts:*

Information Technology Election Day Review

Election Day Equipment Review

For Election Day, 2,597 voting units were deployed. An additional 80 voting units were sent to about 65 polling places on Election Day to replace malfunctioning units. A few were sent out to accommodate long lines at polling places.

From Help Desk tickets and GEMS reports, 189 voting units (7%) of units deployed failed on Election Day. An additional 122 voting units (or 5%) were suspect based on number of votes captured.

Of the 189 voting units that failed:

1. On Election morning, 58 voting units failed to boot up, showing a Ballot Exception Error. These units were unusable and were immediately taken out of service. No votes were captured on these units.
2. 106 voting units experienced screen freezes. In staff opinion this is the most serious of errors. Election judges and technical staff reported that many of these units froze when the voter pressed the Cast Ballot button. This leads to great confusion for judges and voters. The voter leaves the polling place with little or no confidence that their vote was counted. In many cases, the election judges are unable to provide substantial confirmation that the vote was, in fact, counted.
3. 25 voting units failed due to a variety of problems including card readers, printers, and power problems.
4. The additional 122 suspect voting units were identified because few votes were captured compared to other units in the same polling place. A unit was considered suspect if it had 25-50 votes captured when all other units in the polling place had over 150 votes.
5. Of the 1,245 encoders deployed, approximately 30 failed and were replaced on Election Day. Preliminary tests indicate that the failures are a result of little or no battery power.
6. Prior election day, we prepared approximately 95 voting units using new touch screen units and new PC memory cards. Of these, 5 failed; 4 with screen freezes and 1 with a ballot exception error. Another 4 units were in the suspect category.

As of February 16, 2005, Diebold in Maryland was unable to diagnose the problems and was shipping the systems out of state for testing.**

* IT Report to the Montgomery County Election Board. Pages 11, 12.

** Internal Memo.

See: Diebold in the News

News stories make it rapidly apparent that
electronic voting is not reliable, accurate, or secure.
Any one who claims otherwise is either uninformed or deceptive.
~ Joseph Holder