The historic recount of three City Council elections began here Monday, as a medley of people packed a city conference room to commence the review of more than 170,000 ballots. The three DS-850 ballot-counting machines — the use of which three of the six candidates involved in the recount objected — lined the front of the room, as sheriff’s deputies managed traffic across the room. Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen described the process — an unprecedented one that has been crafted in the public eye over the last several weeks — as “organized chaos,” illustrating the interlocking puzzle of people, process, and access required to administer the state’s first recount of multiple elections.
Florida: Something Very Odd Happened With Broward County’s Ballots in the Florida Senate Election | Slate Kim
Florida has retained the championship belt for election shenanigans, as three statewide races could be headed for a recount. The gap between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, in the election for the latter’s Senate seat, has only continued to narrow. The race was already within the 0.5 percent margin needed to trigger a recount on Wednesday, when Scott had roughly a 35,000-vote lead. That’s been cut in half to about 17,000 as ballots have continued to come in. While Scott is still the favorite to ultimately win, FiveThirtyEight has shifted the race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” One reason for hope for Nelson is that a traditionally Democratic area, Broward County, has so far reported fewer votes for the Senate race compared with the gubernatorial race, according to data compiled by MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. In other Florida counties, no such discrepancy exists. While some of the discrepancy could be due to genuine undervotes—for instance, the design of the ballot may have led some voters to miss it and not vote in that race—it’s possible that the county hasn’t correctly counted all the ballots. About 24,000 ballots in Broward County registered a vote in the governor’s race but not for the Senate race.
The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office is using a new vendor for ballot printing this election, and some of those ballots are slightly larger than the specs that allow them to be read by machines at polling locations. WOKV first received reports from some voters, who said their ballots were not being read by the machines, and instead the ballots were being collected by poll workers. Duval Chief Elections Officer Robert Phillips confirms to WOKV that some ballots were printed with a very slight variance from the specs, meaning they are too wide for many of the machines at the polling locations to accept. By Tuesday night, Phillips told WOKV that around 1,700 ballots could not be scanned, across 45 precincts. It appears to be mostly non-partisan ballots having this problem, although there have been some partisan ballots that did not fit as well.
The ballots are being recounted, but it’s not for the presidential election. This time it’s for Mobile County’s pay as you go measure. It was the last measure on the ballot last Tuesday. And according to Election Systems and Software, the company that runs the ballot machines, a wrong test pattern was used to program the machines. That resulted in 99.7 percent of votes favoring the measure. While many voters called in with concerns and filed complaints, it took a few days to figure out exactly what happened. The company has since taken accountability. “We obviously made a mistake originally for election day, we regret that. We’ve gone back in we’ve corrected the error there in the personal program, we’ve marked ballots we’ve double checked, we’ve triple checked, we’ve run test we’re confident today is 100 percent accurate,” said Mark Kelley with Election Systems and Software.
Election officials say a formatting error delayed Cascade County results on Tuesday. County Clerk & Recorder Rina Moore says the elections office noticed problems with the voting machine’s ballot feeder early Tuesday night. She says officials were only able to count 20 ballots at a time compared to the 200 to 300 the machine typically processed. An elections copy specialist from Butte revealed the problem stemmed from incorrectly-cut ballot stock, resulting in the feeder error. Moore says officials resorted to feeding ballots through a voter scanner and tabulator system which the elections office had not used before, and she said she hoped would help provide a final count.
When the official vote count begins for the P.E.I. plebiscite, it will be a computer that tallies up the votes and declares the winner. This is P.E.I.’s first foray into electronic voting and the first time those votes will be counted and processed by a computer, instead of by people. “If we had to count all those ballots manually I think we’d be there for months,” said Harry Neufeld, who’s co-ordinating the audit team for the plebiscite. He’s the former chief electoral officer of British Columbia and has been involved in several electoral reviews in other provinces. When voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 pm, the ballot boxes will be collected from across the Island and taken to Elections P.E.I. office where they’ll be secured overnight.
Arizona: Santa Cruz County Elections Office wants new machine after primary night glitch | Nogales International
The county’s elections chief said she’ll insist on a new ballot-tabulating machine for the November general election after recently purchased equipment malfunctioned and caused an hours-long delay in tabulating the results of Tuesday’s primary. With several candidates and their supporters looking on anxiously, a technician attempted to fix a high-speed scanner that was being used to count ballots Tuesday night after it jammed. “We thought it would be an easy fix, get it up and running and be able to continue,” said County Elections Director Melinda Meek. “Obviously it wasn’t a quick fix. (The technician) had to take the thing apart.” Meek said the machine jammed while elections workers were running early mail-in ballots through it. The snafu forced officials to resort to using two hand-fed backup machines that could only process one ballot at a time. As a result, the first preliminary election results that included just early ballots were announced at approximately 10:30 p.m., several hours after they were expected. Updated results that included ballots cast at the polls came an hour later.
Votes cast in Gage County for the 2016 elections will be processed through a new machine aimed to tally more quickly and with fewer issues. The County Board voted unanimously to purchase a DS850 machine from Omaha-based Election Systems and Software (ES and S) during its Wednesday meeting. Dawn Hill, County Clerk and Election Commissioner, said the current machine, a 650 model, is prone to several issues, adding hours to the counting process on election night. “The machine that we currently have now, I did confirm with ES and S and that was manufactured in 1996,” Hill said. “We have issues with slow ballots, jamming, it stops. It does read correct — I want to make sure everyone knows we do not have a problem with reading the ballots and totaling the votes. We do have an audit performed.”
What exactly kept Minnehaha County from reporting election totals for 14 hours in the last general election, and how should the auditor’s office make sure it never happens again? The seven-member panel appointed to answer those questions reviewed the issues again Friday as it spent more than two hours on the matter with several issues brought up. Earlier questions on problems with the machines that counted the votes, and froze on election night, had been put to the manufacturer, but it did not respond until an hour before this meeting and did not address what happened on election night. The machines apparently were too sensitive, rejecting ballots with stray marks as “overvotes.” Pennington County had the same problem during the election, said its county auditor, Julie Pearson, but only briefly. It was fixed with a simple adjustment to the equipment. Making that change eliminated the rejection of ballots with hesitation marks.
One of Minnehaha County’s $110,000 voting machines froze up Friday during a demonstration for the Election Review Commission. Twice. The freezes could have been a metaphor for the election night woes that kept the state’s largest county from reporting election results until 14 hours after the polls closed: Nothing went as smoothly as promised. The speedy new machines — one of which broke down for 45 minutes on election night — were meant to help the county avoid a repeat of 2012’s last-in-the-state reporting. But they proved too sensitive, rejecting ballots with tiny marks in the wrong place as “overvotes.” Drops of coffee, food stains and light pencil marks caused rejection, too, forcing resolution boards to recreate and rule on 600 total ballots. They also went down for 45 minutes on election night.
North Carolina: Forsyth County elections office wants to replace equipment; proposal could cost about $1.4M | Winston-Salem Journal
The Forsyth County elections office wants to buy new elections equipment this year, but the county commissioners will have to decide whether to fund the request. Steve Hines, director of elections for Forsyth County, said his office is asking to replace all of its voting equipment – including the optical scanners that record paper ballots at precincts and the larger tabulator used at the elections office. Hines said his office is still in talks with the vendor for Election Systems & Software equipment, but has a rough cost estimate of about $1.4 million. Hines said he hates to ask for that much. “But I’d hate to go through what we went through this past year on a presidential scale,” Hines said. The elections office dealt with a number of hiccups in the general election last November, including breakdowns of vote-counting machines at precincts and the elections office. The equipment is about a decade old. … The county uses paper ballots on Election Day, but it uses iVotronic touch-screen machines for early voting and Election Day handicap-accessible voting. The county will no longer be able to use those machines as of 2018 because they don’t print a ballot.
South Dakota: Human error, not new high-tech ballot machines, to blame for Pennington’s late election results | Rapid City Journal
The Pennington County Auditor’s Office used a $232,000 federal grant on two new high-tech ballot-counting machines this year to increase the speed and accuracy of its elections. So, how did it work? As with any new technology, there was a learning curve and bugs in the system that led to a long night for Auditor Julie Pearson and her staff, forced a tedious process of recounting or re-creating thousands of ballots on the fly and produced election results two hours later than usual. And yet, the problems ultimately had nothing to do with the new Election Systems & Software DS850 ballot machines, but rather were due to human error and inexperience with the technology, Pearson said on Friday. “The technology did exactly what it was supposed to do,” Pearson said. “We just had to change our processes.”
The Guam Election Commission has new voting tabulators and is gearing up for the Aug. 30 Primary Election. GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said the three tabulators arrived Aug. 1 and the staff started training on Monday. The Legislature in June appropriated $134,250 to buy a new ballot tabulation system and $48,500 for ballot stock and coding services. The four tabulators the election commission had were old and outdated and caused some problems during the last election in 2012.
Lawmakers went into back to back sessions today to discuss a pair of bills – the first of which would address funding to purchase new tabulation equipment for the Guam Election Commission. “Si yu’os ma’ase to all of them for their support,” said Guam Election Commission executive director Maria Pangelinan. She refers to swift action by lawmakers today on addressing funding for new tabulation machines. It was last week when Bill 334 lapsed into law appropriating $206,000 from the Supplemental Appropriation Revenue Fund for the purchase of the machines along with ballot stock and coding services. However BBMR recently informed her that there is actually no funding in the SAR account. “So because of that, the only option they would have is to see about using fiscal year funding that was brought up to the attention of the commissioners and we all know that the commissioners and I don’t want to have a deficit at the end of the fiscal year,” she said.
Guam: Bill would fund new vote tabulators: GEC director expects machines in July or August | Pacific Daily News
The Guam Election Commission could soon get new tabulators if a recently passed bill becomes law. Bill 334, passed by the Legislature on Monday, appropriates $134,250 to buy a ballot tabulation system and $48,500 for ballot stock and coding services for the Guam Election Commission. Guam Election Commission Executive Director Maria Pangelinan said she hopes the commission will have new voting tabulator machines by the primary election on Aug. 30.
Davison County has something no other county in South Dakota has: a new up-to-date voting machine that is supposed to count ballots easier and quicker. But the new device didn’t quite do its job last night. It failed to read around 700 ballots, creating some headaches for the County Auditor. The new voter machine in Davison County is supposed to be a big improvement over the equipment it replaced, but during Tuesday night’s election it worked almost too well. “The ballot marks on the back bled through to the front. You can’t see it with the naked eye, only the machine read it,” said Kiepke.