State elections officials plan to end the use of a type of ballot-tabulation machine after the statewide 2016 recount linked the machine to vote-counting discrepancies in the last election. State elections commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to de-certify the machine, the Optech Eagle, immediately after the 2018 election. The commission also required that if those machines are used in a recount before then, a hand recount would be required. A Wisconsin State Journal analysis of the recount results, published in January, highlighted the problems. The Optech Eagle, which processed about 10.6 percent of the ballots in the state, produced a higher error rate than other machines — likely because some voters didn’t comply with instructions to use a certain kind of ink or pencil to mark their ballots.
State elections supervisor Richard Rydecki said the machines have been in use in Wisconsin for more than two decades and have been heralded for their speed and durability.
But the machines have one big flaw: They can only read carbon-based ballot markings, such as those made by a pencil. Markings made by ballpoint pens or markers can be missed.