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Electronic voting
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Investigation into the 2004 US Election: Electronic voting issues


Project: Investigation into the 2004 US Election

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November 2, 2004

       4,438 (Early reports say 4,530 votes) votes are lost in North Carolina's Carteret County because officials believed the computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it actually could. The officials claimed that the voting system's manufacturer, UniLect Corp., had said that each of the storage unit could hold 10,500 votes when in actuality, the limit was 3,005. [The News and Observer, 11/17/2004; Associated Press, 11/4/2004; Journal Gazette, 11/13/2004] According to the North Carolina News and Observer, “Most of the votes lost were by registered Republicans.” [The News and Observer, 11/17/2004]

November 2, 2004

       A dozen precincts in the southwest part of Merced County, Ohio experience problems with electronic voting machines that were purchased in 2001 from UniLect Corp. Machine malfunctions in these precincts are compounded by problems with the paper ballots that are used as a back-up. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] All of the precincts experiencing these problems have a Democratic majority. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] Some of the problems that voters experience include:
20 to 30 of the machines need to be recalibrated when votes intended for one candidate are instead counted for another. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

About twelve machines freeze up and have to be restarted. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

In the precincts of Hermitage, Farrell, Wheatland, West Middlesex, Shenango Township and Sharon, some machines never operate or offer only black screens while others display the ballot backwards, requiring the voter to start with the last page of the ballot and work towards the beginning. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

In polling places where the machines are inoperable, election officials have to provide a back-up supply of paper ballots. But the county only has an emergency stock of 2,000 paper ballots, and as a result they have to print “a couple thousand more.” [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]
But this creates new problems. Some of the paper ballots are missing candidates' names and in some precincts there are complaints that poll workers require people to sign their paper ballots. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004] Additionally, critics later note that the failure to have had enough paper ballots on hand may have disenfranchised voters. Some people who left the polls when voting was not possible may not have returned to vote when the new supply of paper ballots arrived. [Vindicator, 11/6/2004]
At the Farrell municipal building, where 289 people are known to have voted, the voting machines record only 51 votes for president—48 votes for John Kerry and 3 for George W. Bush. Missing presidential votes are a problem in other precincts as well, as the county reports a few days later that 51,818 people cast ballots but only 47,768 of those included a vote for president. [Vindicator, 11/6/2004]
About a month later, the total undervote in Mercer County is determined to have been 7.29 percent. Typically, candidates will challenge results when the undervote exceeds 2 percent . [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/9/2004]
For some races machines tabulated negative 25 million votes. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]

Finally, there is at least one incident involving the harassment of voters. Challengers from both the Democratic and Republican parties assigned to Warren 2E are ordered to leave the polling station after precinct judges say they are being disruptive. [Vindicator, 11/3/2004]


November 5, 2004

       In Ohio, Matthew Damschroder, director of Franklin County Board of Elections, reports that an error with its electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in Precinct 1B in Gahanna where only 638 voters were known to have cast ballots. The actual tally of Bush votes was 365. [Associated Press, 11/05/2004; Associated Press, 11/06/2004; The Columbus Dispatch, 11/5/2004] Franklin is the only Ohio county where the older-style touchscreen voting system manufactured by Danaher Controls Inc.'s ELECTronic 1242 is used. [Associated Press, 11/05/2004]

November 11, 2004

       Attorneys scrutinizing the close vote in Broward County, Florida notice that vote totals for some constitutional amendment questions changed in an unexpected way after 13,000 final ballots were counted. Election officials quickly determine the problem was caused by the Unity Software that adds the vote totals together from five machines tabulating absentee ballots. The software was developed by ES&S of Omaha, Nebraska. According to Broward County Mayor Ilene Lieberman, the glitch was discovered two years ago but was not fixed for reasons that are disputed. ES&S claims that they were unable to fix the bug because they were not granted certification for the change from the state of Florida. However Florida denies that that was the case. An attorney for the Secretary of State's office says that state certification is not needed to fix bugs. [Miami Herald, 11/04/2004]

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