UPDATE: Another machine in separate precinct fails as well, is taken out of service...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2011, 11:08am PT  

It's Election Day in America again today in a number of states. Therefore, electronic voting machines are once again failing and, even when they don't, leaving voters guessing whether their votes were recorded accurately or even at all.

Here's an early example this morning out of New Jersey, where pretty much the entire state votes on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems. The machine that failed, as detailed below, selected all of the candidates the voter didn't wish to vote for when he attempted to vote a straight-ticket ballot. The machine is made by a private company named Avante International...

From The Express-Times:

Richard Rumfield was the first person to cast his vote at 6 o'clock this morning at the town municipal building in Phillipsburg.

But as he was about to submit his choices, he realized an error with the machine. Rather than choosing the names he checked on his straight ticket, the machine had compiled the names listed below his preferred candidates.

Rumfield alerted a poll worker, who noted the error and said they'd report the malfunctioning machine. By going back through each question, and answering opposite of what he had the first time, Rumfield was able to manually choose the candidates for whom he actually wanted to vote, but he said he still left the polling place unsatisfied.

"Suppose there's other machines in the town or Warren County that are rigged," he said. "This machine should have been checked out before anyone was even voting on it."

Bill Duffy, administrator and chief clerk for the Warren County Board of Elections, said the machines were calibrated in early October, but it's not uncommon for them to have trouble on Election Day.

"There's always one or two that just give us a problem," he said.

He said the machine at the municipal building was the only reported problem he had received as of about 11:30 this morning.

Rumfield called Phillipsburg police and left a message at the mayor's office to also alert them of the discrepancy. But he said he felt the situation was not being treated as seriously as it should, considering other people who weren't paying close attention could have cast votes that were not as they intended.

"They tried to push it off like it was not big deal, but to me it is," he said.

Dufffy said the machine was repaired this morning, but then started acting up again, so it was eventually replaced with an extra.

The article then ends with this reported note from chief of elections Duffy: "He said since voters also receive a printout of their votes, they can double check that the machine is working properly and change their choices if there's a glitch."

Of course, as Duffy knows, but apparently didn't bother to mention to the news reporter, that "printout" is not actually counted by anybody. The election results will be based on whatever the machines happens to record internally, and that process is 100% invisible to everyone. Forever.

And, as we always must point out on Election Days, this is not a "glitch" or a "hiccup" or a "snag" or a "snafu" as these things will be downplayed in media reports throughout the day. They are failures. Period.

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UPDATE 3:10pm PT: The Express-Times now reports that a second touch-screen system, at a different precinct in Phillipsburg, NJ has been taken off-line "after malfunctioning, according to Warren County Board of Elections officials.":

"That one froze and was not responding to the voter," Warren County Election Administrator William Duffy said, adding the machine had five votes on it when it froze. "The technician and poll worker could not get it working so it was replaced."

They also report, in regard to the other machine which failed earlier, that the Phillipsburg Mayor Harry Wyant Jr., a Republican who is up for re-election today, is hopping mad that it was "repaired" and put back into service, instead of being removed immediately. The machine was eventually taken out entirely after it failed again later. Wyant is absolutely right to be angry. The notion that these systems should be "recalibrated" in the middle of an election is insane...as we have pointed out...to little avail...for many years now.

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