The District’s Nov. 4 general election was marred by absent poll workers, outdated equipment and uneven access for disabled voters, the D.C. auditor’s office concludes in a new report that recommends replacing voting machines and improving worker training. At one polling place in November, people were asked to show identification to vote — which is not required by D.C. law — and some voters were turned away, according to the report. The audit came after a series of lapses from the D.C. Board of Elections in recent years — most recently, a technical breakdown that delayed the counting of votes for hours during the April 1 primary last year and the printing of a voter guide bearing an upside-down D.C. flag ahead of the general election. D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) ordered the audit, which involved visits to a majority of the city’s 143 polling places on Election Day. McDuffie has been sharply critical of management at the elections board. … The auditors documented equipment problems at 57 of the 89 precincts they visited, affecting a wide range of the District’s Election Day technology — including paper ballot readers, electronic poll books and touch-screen voting machines.
But the auditors concluded that the Board of Elections had “adequate contingency plans” in place to remedy those malfunctions on Election Day. And their conclusion that voting equipment should be replaced echoes the recommendation of the board, which raised eyebrows last year when it suggested that the current equipment — purchased ahead of the 2010 elections — was already outdated.
“Given the number of technical issues resulting from the malfunction of [the old equipment], we strongly support the BOE’s request for replacement systems,” the report reads. “We suggest that the BOE be given the opportunity and resources to purchase updated hardware and software. New equipment will minimize equipment breakdowns and speed up the tabulation process.”