Skip to main content

This does not bode well for the coming elections....

An optical scan vote tallying system, now used by some 300 U.S. municipalities, misreported the results of a Palm Beach County, Florida, municipal election last month.

Dominion Voting Inc.'s Sequoia Voting Systems device mistakenly awarded two Wellington Village Council seats to candidates who were found in a post-election audit to have lost their races.

The results were officially changed last weekend after a court-sanctioned public hand count of the votes.

Palm Beach County supervisor of elections Susan Bucher did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the problem.

According to a story in the Palm Beach Sun Sentinel , the Sequoia vote counting software was set up in a way that didn't correspond to the Wellington County ballot distributed to voters.

As a result, votes meant for one candidate were credited to a different candidate.

"Election-night totals on Wellington's three races were shifted in a circle -- with village council Seat 4 votes going to the mayor's race, votes for mayor going to council Seat 1, and votes for Seat 1 going to Seat 4," the Sentinel story said.

In a product advisory notice issued last Friday, Dominion warned customers that problems could arise if the contest order on a paper ballot does not match the ballot order programmed into Sequoia machine.

"The contest order on the ballots in the database can become out of sync with the contest order shown on the corresponding paper ballots," the company noted.

When you voted for your choices in the 3 races by connecting two ends of an arrow with a pen, you then fed your ballot into an optical reader.  The votes were tallied correctly but then were assigned to a different candidate in a different race.  The election night results showed Dem Bob Margolis to be a 700 vote winner against incumbent Repub mayor Darell Bowen, former council member Repub Al Paglia to be a winner over incumbent Dem Matt Willhite and newcomer Shauna Hostetler over John Greene, both Republicans seeking an open seat.  The two council races were decided on election night, March 13 by less than 200 votes.  

On March 19 a discrepency was noted during an audit and the Supervisor of Elections alerted all parties that a recount of the votes was needed.  The recount was granted by the canvassing board, which consisted of 3 Wellington council members not involved in the election, plus the Village clerk.  The recount kept Margolis the winner by roughly 70 votes but reversed the two council winners, with Willhite picking up a sizable 700 vote edge over Paglia.

Numerous court hearings led to an order of the physical hand recount which confirmed that the second count was 100% accurate.  The winners will be sworn in next week.

Susan Bucher, the Supervisor of Elections for Palm Beach County has warned county officials that the equipment they are using is problematic for years, but budget constraints have prevented new purchases.  She deserves credit for finding the problem before it was too late and preventing losing candidates from taking office.

Never a dull moment in Palm Beach County.

Another article regarding the same election:

A public hand-count of paper ballots in Palm Beach County, FL over the weekend has decisively determined the winners and losers of several disputed elections after paper ballot optical-scan computer tallying systems made by Sequoia Voting Systems (now owned by Dominion Voting) declared the incorrect "winners" of several races in a March 13th election.

But a dispute over who is to blame for the initial failure flared up again over the weekend as Dominion issued a statement that seems to contradict their previous admission that their software was to blame.

"The hand-count was 100%. We weren't missing a ballot," the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon about what happened over the weekend. "Frankly, without paper ballots and without audits, we would have let the wrong winners serve."

What will happen next, however --- for Palm Beach County, one of Florida's largest, as well as the other 285 jurisdictions across the country where the very same voting system is currently in use --- is anything but clear...
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (21+ / 0-)

    I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's. - Mark Twain

    by route66 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 03:26:35 AM PDT

  •  Again? (6+ / 0-)

    #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 03:28:37 AM PDT

  •  So why doesn't Palm Beach just ditch the machines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miniaussiefan, bear83

    and spend their software money paying people for their time counting votes in the same way that people serving the public get paid for jury duty? They are claiming 100% accuracy by hand here, and it obviously wasn't that hard. It is a pleasure at the end of an evening counting to be certain that all the numbers, undervotes, spoiled ballots, etc. tally up exactly to what they ought to be, not some vague trusting of the machines, which (voila!) don't work so good sometimes...

    I have pointed out before that voting machines are not something you buy once, fill'er up and go forevermore. And it's simpler, easier and safer to pile up the paper ballots, count one race then re-pile and count the next by hand than it is to program the kind of small town ballots that come up: vote for one of these for the one year-term, two out of three for the same position three-year term, and one more at large...Like picking from a Chinese menu, it's easier and clearer to just list what you want by the number than to try to run some sort of computer app to do it for you.

    •  impractical (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wmc418, oceanview, FG

      it took 6 hours with 12 counters, numerous ballot handlers and managers, observer teams from each campaign, lawyers, media, etc. to count less than 5900 ballots.

      I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's. - Mark Twain

      by route66 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 04:23:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  lawyers and media don't have to be there, in fact (0+ / 0-)

        there aren't ever any at our regular ballot countings. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all show up to do the work, and our town of under 5000 people, 2900+/- registered voters can post 16 or more people for a big election and 8 or so for a minor one. And the ballots are far more legible because we are not trying to re-read bubble sheets. Just plain names next to big, easy-to-mark boxes. Six hours would be good time for a really big election with ballot questions too, but what's wrong with that? It can still be done by just after midnight. And done with the certainty that everyone has seen all the numbers match at the same time.

        Who ya gonna believe this year? Big money machines or a True tally?

  •  Repgs stealing votes? (0+ / 0-)

    Were these mid-directed votes directed to repugs? AGAIN?

    Is "Dominion Voting Inc.'s Sequoia Voting Systems" the Diebold system that stole votes in the past?

  •  No effing kidding: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieR, bear83, oceanview, Russgirl
    In a product advisory notice issued last Friday, Dominion warned customers that problems could arise if the contest order on a paper ballot does not match the ballot order programmed into Sequoia machine.


    Here in SC, the non-paper-trail voting machines were purchased secondhand from Louisiana - that state ditched them, presumably b/c of inaccuracies or the perceived inaccuracies that could occur.

    We haven't used the machines since hearing that a few years ago - we request absentee ballots and just hope that they actually do get counted.

    Receipts are given after purchases, after money withdrawals from ATMs, after library book checkouts, after every other damned transaction I can think of. Votes are one of our most important "transactions"--we must demand a paper trail.

    Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

    by Miniaussiefan on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 05:23:34 AM PDT

  •  My county, Leon County (6+ / 0-)

    has used optical scan for many years with 100% accuracy.  The key is making sure that the ballot reader is properly aligned on the machines.  Apparently the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections has not done the proper training and testing of the machines before the elections.  

    As a citizen and voter, I will take optical scan over touch screen any day.  

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 05:31:36 AM PDT

    •  Yes, testing is crucial. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, gulfgal98

      Michigan uses optical scan systems, and the critical factor is that the voter-produced paper ballots remain available for recount as here. The statement by Dominion...

      "The contest order on the ballots in the database can become out of sync with the contest order shown on the corresponding paper ballots," the company noted.
      ... is in the passive voice ("can become out of sync") which is useful when you are trying to obfuscate where the responsibility for the error lies.

      Here in Michigan, the law requires a test deck of ballots to be prepared before every election, with different numbers of total votes for each candidate in each race. The deck is run through every tabulator for every precinct in a public test a week or so in advance of the election. If the results don't sync with the deck as prepared, the tabulator must be re-programmed and tested again.

      It's pretty foolproof -- IF you follow test procedures carefully designed to detect programming errors.

      Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

      by memiller on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 06:25:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At least with optical scan (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, rja, Russgirl, gulfgal98

      there's a paper ballot that can be recounted, if necessary.

      With a touch screen, who the hell knows who the votes were for.

  •  Not Surprising (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview, Russgirl

    Since Florida made the national loser into the national winner in the 2000 Presidential election.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site