The manufacturer of the city’s jam-plagued ballot scanners misled the Board of Elections about the devices’ vulnerability to humidity, which likely contributed to the Big Apple’s Election Day meltdown, The Post has learned. Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software claimed its scanners could operate in any humidity level in a key document it filed as part of its winning bid for the $56 million contract. But ES&S contradicts itself in the very instruction manual it publishes for the model of scanner the BOE purchased, filings with authorities in other states show. “Humidity and wetness were a factor in the paper jams on Election Day and ES&S was not transparent in the contract about the implications of wetness and humidity,” said Alex Camarda, an elections expert with the government watchdog Reinvent Albany.
At a City Council hearing Tuesday, ES&S executive Judd Ryan denied humidity played a role in the Nov. 6 fiasco. “Humidity is not an issue,” Ryan said, noting that the machines operate in Florida and Alabama, where conditions are typically more humid than in New York. There were also fewer jams on Staten Island, which had a simpler one-page ballot compared to the two-pager in the other boroughs.
But humidity did play a role in the scanner jams, experts said.
“You can think of the paper as a sponge, and a dry sponge is much thinner than a wet sponge — the paper stores the water in the air,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, an expert with the Center for Democracy & Technology. “It makes it harder for the machines to move the paper through the rollers.