By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2014, 9:57pm PT  

While today was Primary Election Day in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio, we're just now learning about electronic vote tabulators which failed in last month's special election for the U.S. House in Florida, according to Fox4, WFTX-TV in Fort Myers/Naples, Florida...

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Four In Your Corner has learned voters ran into problems in both Lee and Collier counties during the special Republican primary for the congressional district 19 seat last month.

The special primary was part of a process to replace Republican Trey Radel in Congress. He resigned in January after he was busted for cocaine in October.

On the day of the special primary, some voting machines malfunctioned and weren't accepting ballots.

"I had to vote because that's my good [sic] given right to vote," said Cape Coral resident Paul Barnes.

That's why he said he showed up to precinct 57 at Rotary Park in Cape Coral early election morning.

"[I] signed in on an electronic pad, which is something new. [I] got my ballot, filled it out. [I] go to the machine and scan it, and step three was broken," he explained.

"The ballot scanner, the most important step is to have your vote into the system immediately electronically. It didn't happen."

Adam Smith is the Lee Election Center Technician and works with the county's 330 optical scanning machines.

"It's top­-notch equipment, but like any electronics they can have an issue," said Smith.
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The tabulator also failed on a voting machine at the Jamaica Bay precinct on election day.

And Collier County, which uses the same model, had two voting machines fail during early voting.

Now, the good news here is that, in theory, the hand-marked paper ballots which couldn't be tabulated by the malfunctioning computerized optical-scanners at the precincts, could be tabulated later on back at county headquarters. So, unlike with computerized touch-screen voting systems --- still used in virtually every state in the nation --- no votes should have been lost.

The bad news is that the hand-marked paper ballots were tabulated by computerized optical-scanners --- either at the precinct or, presumably, at county headquarters later --- and, short of a hand-count of those paper ballots, by actual human beings, nobody will ever know for sure if they were tabulated correctly or incorrectly (like the ones found to have been incorrectly tabulated in several races in Palm Beach in 2012, when the computerized optical-scan tabulator declared several losing candidates to be the "winners", until, thanks to concerns by a sharp-eyed election official, a rare, court-ordered hand-count revealed the actual winners of the election.)

The machines that failed in Lee and Collier Counties were op-scanners made by ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine vendor. The ones that failed in 2012 in Palm Beach County were made by Seqouia Voting Systems, a company owned by Smartmatic, the Venezuelan firm tied to their late President Hugo Chavez. Sequoia is now owned by Dominion Voting, a Canadian firm, though the hardware and software of the Sequoia voting systems they now service is still the intellectual property of Smartmatic.

Of course, don't tell any of this to Mark Glaze, the "gun safety" guy who appeared on MSNBC Monday night, to told us all during his appearance on All In with Chris Hayes that electronic voting has now been made "fool-proof".

While we've yet to hear reports of problems with voting machines in today's elections in NC, IN and OH, we always try to caution folks that such problems don't always come to light until days, weeks, or sometimes months (or even years) after Election Day. That we're only hearing about the problems from last month's special U.S. House election in Florida now, is good evidence of that, once again.

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