A recent audit of the 2010 general election results has raised questions about some counties’ ability to account for every vote cast. The audit was commissioned by the South Carolina League of Women Voters and performed by Duncan Buell, a USC computer science professor. Buell says eight counties, including Oconee, had “significant problems” in terms of being able to determine if vote totals were correct. According to Buell, Oconee County failed to save about two-thirds of its audit files: voting data stored on small memory cards – or “flash cards” – that are supposed to be removed from voting machines and uploaded to a central computing system.
“Only about a third of the cast vote records show up in the files,” says Buell. “They’re just missing 2/3 of the vote data which makes it impossible to do a serious audit.”
Oconee County Voter Registration and Elections Director Joy Brooks admits to WSPA she made a mistake in failing to create audit files for every flash card taken from the voting machines. But she says she can still account for every vote cast in election because the votes are also recorded on electronic ballot cards and on a paper printout from those ballot cards.
“Those flash cards that we create the audit files from are a back-up accounting method,” says Brooks. “We have two other means of showing how every vote was cast. I can assure voters in Oconee County that their voted was counted.”
She says the state has already taken steps to ensure every audit file is properly saved by providing each county with new data collection software that will save flash card data in one central file rather than creating an individual file for every flash card uploaded into central computers.