Arkansas Election Officials Baffled by Machines That Flipped Race
Wired News (05/29/08) Zetter, Kim
Election officials in Faulkner County, Arkansas, are trying to determine how two voting machines allocated votes cast in one race to an entirely different race that was not even on the electronic ballot. The problem resulted in the wrong candidate being declared the winner in a state House race. Election commissioner Bruce Haggard says he does not understand how the error could have happened.
The error occurred on two touch-screen voting machines made by Election Systems & Software, which were the only machines used in Faulkner County’s East Cadron B voting precinct. Haggard says the night before the election officials noticed that the electronic ballot on the two machines was missing the State House District 45 race, so officials printed paper ballots to be used just for that race in the precinct. Voters used the machines to cast votes for other races, and cast paper ballots for the District 45 race, but a post-election examination revealed that despite the fact that the electronic ballots on the two machines did not display the District 45 race, the machines recorded votes for that contest.
Officials eventually determined that the machines took votes cast in the Cadron Township Constable race and put them in the non-existent District 45 race. Haggard says officials were able to determine where the votes came from because the machines produced a voter-verifiable paper audit trail, which correctly showed that there was no District 45 race on the ballot and therefore there were no votes cast in that race on the machines. Haggard says he expects ES&S to provide a reason for why the machines distributed the votes incorrectly, and he has asked the secretary of state’s office to conduct an examination with ES&S, which Haggard says will likely take place in June.