Voting Machine Malfunction

Pottawattamie County, Iowa. June 2006, ES&S M100 Optical Scanner.
Flawed ballot programming changes outcomes in at least one contest.

ES&S provided the scanners, the ballot programming, and probably the test ballots. After obvious tabulation errors, only a hand count determined the voters' choices.*

Things began to look fishy, [Pottawattamie County Auditor Marilyn Jo] Drake said, when the county's new computers counted the absentee ballots in the Republican Party's county race between longtime Recorder John Sciortino and newcomer Oscar Duran.

Absentee ballots are the ones counted first.

When all of those were counted, Duran, a University of Nebraska at Omaha student, had 99 votes, while Sciortino, the county recorder since 1983, had just 79.

... Drake said she decided to count the absentee ballots by hand to determine if the computers were counting correctly.

They weren't - not by a long shot.

The actual absentee ballot count in the recorder's race when done by hand found Sciortino had 153 votes and Duran just 25.

It was then that she decided to stop the computer counting in all the races.

"They could be tainted, we don't know," Drake said.

The problem occurred because ES&S failed to account for the rotation of candidate names in different precincts.**

Meanwhile, the cause of Tuesday's computer counting errors has been determined, said county deputy auditor Gary Herman.

According to Herman, the names of those in multiple candidate races are rotated in each precinct, so that one candidate won't be at the top of the list in all precincts. For example, one candidate's name might be at the top of the list in one precinct, but in the middle or at the bottom of the list in another precinct to avoid voter fraud, Herman said. The computers that read the ballots after they were completed were not programmed to recognize the different order for precincts, he said.

The hand count showed that Loren Knauss, who received the most votes on the Republican ballot for County Board of Supervisors, would have lost the election according to the machines.

* Faulty voting machines delay results; counting under way. The Daily Nonpareil Online. June 7, 2006. by Tim Rohwer, Staff Writer.

** Knauss, Leaders, Williams win in GOP supervisors primary. The Daily Nonpareil. June 8, 2006. Tim Rohwer, Staff Writer.

See: ES&S 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