Guest Blogged by John Gideon
As reported on March 9 and March 10 by The BRAD BLOG the folks in Summit Co. OH have discovered massive problems with memory cards on ES&S Electronic Voting Machines in recent tests. Some 30% of the cards completely failed.
ES&S, the largest voting machine provider in the country, attributed the problem to low or dead batteries on the PCMCIA memory cards. At the time, we inquired as to whether other states using ES&S equipment might be experiencing similar problems. The reporter covering the story for the Akron Beacon Journal told us she was able to get no response from ES&S --- but was then given an assurance that ES&S had contacted their customers to inform them about the concerns.
A week ago Tuesday, Texas experienced loads of problems (or "glitches" as Voting Machine Vendors and Election Officials enjoy minimizing them as) in their Primary Elections. Just a few of those reported in newspapers the day after are listed here.
Then yesterday the Akron Beacon Journal reported that, in fact, ES&S had contacted North Carolina. North Carolina, who lost some 4,500 votes completely via an electronic voting machine in Cartaret County during the 2004 Presidential Election, began checking their ES&S memory cards and have so far found more than 1,000 cards that to be bad!
Summit County, OH has also now confirmed that two-thirds of the cards failed due to "battery issues"; the rest failed due to "read-back errors".
``The majority of them were read-back errors, not a battery issue,'' Bryan Williams, director of the Summit County Board of Elections, said Wednesday.
``About one-third were battery errors. Two-thirds were read-back errors,'' Williams added.
He said after new batteries were installed in the memory cards, many still failed to work.
Marijean Donofrio, deputy director of the Summit elections board, said memory cards reading ``low battery'' began to work properly when new batteries were installed. But others that read ``dead battery'' still did not work when the batteries were changed.
She said the more common problem was the ``read-back error,'' which occurred when testers were attempting to run a mock election. The memory cards could not read the data programmed onto them.
It is important to point out that North Carolina state law requires any voting vendor to alert the state if there is a problem found on any voting system in another state that may be a problem in North Carolina. The law worked very well or the state may never have been warned except by the voting activist community who raised the 'red flag'.
Still unanswered is whether the recent myriad problems with ES&S systems in Texas had anything to do with the memory card failures. Also still unanswered is if there are any problems in other states like Indiana or West Virginia where primary elections are soon to be held and ES&S machines are in place.
ALSO: A newly released study of the reliability of voting systems shows that those voting systems studied and presently being sold across the country are one-third as reliable, at best, as an incandescent light bulb.