Machine Counts Halted in All Races After Hand Count of Absentee Ballots Finds 128 Vote Margin for Incumbant Instead of 20 Vote Margin for Challenger Reported by Op-Scan System!
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2006, 10:42am PT  

More shortly concerning my reporting on the questionable Busby/Bilbray elections results in the U.S. House special election to fill "Duke" Cunningham's CA 50th congressional seat. In the meantime, this article from yesterday's Daily Nonpareil in Iowa, about Tuesday's Republican primary there, underscores precisely what I was talking about in my report on Busby/Bilbray yesterday.

After optically scanning absentee ballots in a Republican Primary on Tuesday in Pottawattamie County, a popular, long-time incumbent was trailing a first-time college student candidate by 20 votes. Since that seemed odd, the County Auditor decided to count the absentee ballots by hand and indeed found that the incumbent had won the count instead!... By 128 votes instead of having lost it by 20!

Anybody beginning to get this yet? (...thump, thump...is this thing on?...)

In this case, the new optical scan computers being used for the first time were reportedly made by ES&S. (The ones used in Busby's San Diego race were made by Diebold). Here's more details...

The counting in Tuesday's Pottawattamie County primary election came to a sudden halt shortly after midnight today when Pottawattamie County Auditor Marilyn Jo Drake announced to the waiting courthouse crowd that something wasn't right with the new computers purchased to count the ballots.

As a result, all of Tuesday's ballots were in the process of being counted by hand today. Drake said the winners in Tuesday's election might not be known until around midnight this evening.

"We have no clue," she said of the cause of the problem. But, something wasn't just right from the very beginning, she added.

Things began to look fishy, 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.

"John is such a popular candidate," Drake said.
...
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.

Rest of story here...