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.http://www.cio.com/...
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.http://www.bradblog.com/...
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...