'Paper Trails' Said to Have Been Correct, but Internal Numbers Wrong; System 'Worked to Perfection' During Early Voting Period
Voting Machine Company Tasked With Auditing Own Machines to Find Cause of Failure Before November...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2008, 2:26pm PT  

By all means, let's not pay attention to this report until after November.

This is a follow-up to several previous items we ran last week (here, here and here) on a number of elections in Arkansas where the outcome was reversed after the lucky discovery of mistallies on the ES&S electronic voting system which failed widely in a number of counties during local primary elections there last week.

Here's the latest explanation, most notable passages excerpted below, on what went wrong in Faulkner County's very low turnout election for their District 45 State Representative Democratic Primary in which voters casting ballots in the Cadron Township Constable race had their votes recorded erroneously for the Dist. 45 State Rep race instead.

While these same touch-screen voting systems, the ES&S iVotronic, are widely used across the country, and have failed notoriously in a number of races over the years, and thus, theoretically prone to the same or worse failures this November when the turnout will be far higher, the full article by Joe Lamb in Arkansas' Log Cabin Democrat notes two more additionally chilling points:

  • "[T]he votes for the constable race were later found to have recorded accurately on the voter-verifiable paper trail and therefore would not have appeared erroneous to voters either." (Which means there also would have been a fight, in any contested recount, about which numbers actually reflected voter intent!)
  • "What makes the situation all the more baffling, [Faulkner County Election Commissioner Bruce Haggard] added, is that the machine in question, along with its associated software and coding, were found to have worked to perfection during early voting." (So pre-election tests and early voting gave no indication that something would go wrong on election day, despite election official and voting machine company claims that such tests protect against such problems!)

Full article here, most notable extended excerpts follow below...

One error in last week's election "should not have been possible," Faulkner County Election Commissioner Bruce Haggard said, if an electronic voting machine had been functioning correctly.

The error contributed to a reversal in the District 45 State Representative Democratic Primary election.

In the East Cadron B voting precinct, Haggard said, the district 45 representative ballot was entirely absent from the touch-screen voting machines. The error was caught by county clerk Melinda Reynolds before the polls opened, Haggard said, stressing that no voters were disenfranchised.

Paper ballots were prepared for the district 45 race before voters came to the polls, he said, and these ballots were accurately counted on election night.

But the error that deleted the electronic district 45 representative ballot hid another error that went unnoticed.
...
One error in last week's election "should not have been possible," Faulkner County Election Commissioner Bruce Haggard said, if an electronic voting machine had been functioning correctly.

The error contributed to a reversal in the District 45 State Representative Democratic Primary election.

In the East Cadron B voting precinct, Haggard said, the district 45 representative ballot was entirely absent from the touch-screen voting machines. The error was caught by county clerk Melinda Reynolds before the polls opened, Haggard said, stressing that no voters were disenfranchised.

Paper ballots were prepared for the district 45 race before voters came to the polls, he said, and these ballots were accurately counted on election night.

But the error that deleted the electronic district 45 representative ballot hid another error that went unnoticed.
...
"We assumed, erroneously, that it would not record that race since it was not on the ballot," he said, adding that the votes for the constable race were later found to have recorded accurately on the voter-verifiable paper trail and therefore would not have appeared erroneous to voters either.

As it happened, Fiddler's name had been paired with the vastly more popular constable candidate. This falsely inflated his total number of votes and, as the race was so close, indicated that he had won.

A recount requested by Tyler proved otherwise.
...
What makes the situation all the more baffling, he added, is that the machine in question, along with its associated software and coding, were found to have worked to perfection during early voting.
...
Haggard is confident that the pending ES&S audit will find the commission's current vote tally to be correct.

Yes, you read that last graf correctly. ES&S is apparently the ones who are looking into what caused the problems on the ES&S voting machines. No doubt, their assessment will take care of any further concerns.

Prices now slashed in The BRAD BLOG's 2008 Election Integrity Fund Drive! Please support our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available starting at just $5!