Disparities of Thousands of Votes, Faulty Flash Cards, At Least One Race Overturned After Tabulation Failures Discovered...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2008, 1:40pm PT  

Arkansas had huge problems with their ES&S voting systems during local elections last Tuesday. Malfunctioning machines at multiple sites, and thousands of vote disparities, led to recounts, changed outcomes and at least one race was overturned in the bargain.

It's hardly he first time they've had problems with their ES&S voting systems in the state. Arkansas uses ES&S for almost everything with regards to elections and the vendor has a record of terrible work there, as we saw in 2006. (See bottom of article for links to scores of previous examples.)

"No voting machines functioned properly at any of the 32 White County voting sites on Tuesday," according to the Daily Citizen. That problem, most likely related to failures in the Ballot Definition Files as we'd warned about on Monday, seems to have led to a 3,954 vote disparity in two different races. That discovery then led to a "recount" of all the races on the ballot, which subsequently changed all results, and even overturned one of the races.

In Crawford County, it was "faulty" flash cards, reportedly, which initially led to the inability of the central tabulator computer to read the voting results from the county's 43 electronic voting machines.

From the Daily Citizen: "Winner rejoices, then deflated"...

A 3,954-vote disparity was reported for ballots cast in the circuit judge's race (11,567) compared to the number of ballots cast in the district judge's race (7,613) concerning only White County voters.

When Hudgins brought the discrepancy to the attention of the White County Election Commission, a recount of votes was announced for 7 p.m. Wednesday. The results of the recount completely changed the totals of every race in the county and changed the outcome of one - the circuit judge's race.

"What happened last night was there was a procedural error in the reading of the PEBs [Programmable Electronic Ballots]," said Thomas. "Last night we read early votes from the PEB's and it doubled it."

And more from the Daily Citizen...

Primary election results were delayed and disputed Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning after no voting machines functioned properly at any of the 32 White County voting sites Tuesday.

By late Wednesday night, a set of revised unofficial vote totals revealed Mark Derrick - deemed the winner earlier Wednesday - had actually lost to Tom Hughes in the race for circuit judge, district 17.

A programming error with time settings caused a domino effect of further complications, names were left off ballots and a vote-counting machine failed. Candidates, citizens and supporters waited in the second floor courtroom of the White County courthouse until 1 a.m. to get a hard copy of the unofficial results. No preliminary results were announced during the night and little if any explanations were provided as to the delay.

White County wasn't the only one with problems on Tuesday. Crawford County had similar problems with their ES&S iVotronics as well...

City clerk officials said they had 43 electronic voting machines located throughout the county.

When the votes were taken back to the courthouse to be counted, machines software suffered from a glitch and officials were unable to pull the results from the machines, officials said.

The Times Record offers a few more details on the problem...

A spokesman in the county clerk’s office said a number of the flash cards installed in the county’s voting machines apparently were faulty, delaying the tabulation of results by the county’s reading equipment.

County Clerk Sammie Page had reported during the election that turnout was light and no polling sites had complained of any machine malfunctions. It was only after 7:30 p.m., when tabulation of the results began, that problems arose.

The paper goes on to add that this election was "an improvement over Crawford County’s November 2006 general election," when a "failure of ES&S equipment that night resulted in the hand counting of many paper ballots." Though it's not clear which "ballots" they are referring to, since the county uses iVotronic touch-screens. They don't produce "paper ballots," but rather paper-trails which voters may, or may not, have been able to verify as accurately reflecting their votes. Either way, there is no way to prove after such an election that any such "paper trail" was printed accurately to the voters intent.

Previous problems with ES&S in Arkansas, as covered by The BRAD BLOG, include:

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