A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure. The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both. The aging system made headlines again last week, when high-speed vote counters appeared to overheat. That delayed vote counting in the nationally watched Florida recount. Why Palm Beach County didn’t update its aging vote-counters. Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher Thursday reiterated her belief that equipment malfunctions are at fault for a failure to finish a machine recount in four races by a state-mandated deadline. The county’s equipment is so outmoded she didn’t have time to even start the recount of nearly 600,000 ballots in two of the statewide races.
Dominion Voting Systems, the owner of the Sequoia system, balked at her comments, saying its equipment may not be to blame.
While it’s too early to pinpoint what happened and why, the machines were being run at four times the volume they would be expected to handle, company Vice President of Government Affairs Kay Stimson said.
“Palm Beach County has been running this equipment in a way that stresses it and that is highly unique,” she said. “It has also been running these machines in a mode that we have never seen before.”
John Brakey, an Arizona-based voting transparency advocate who has pushed for adoption of newer election systems, pointed out that “These machines usually run eight hours a day,” not day and night without pause.
“Everyone did the best they could,” said Brakey, “but it was an insane recount to do so much so fast.”