For the second time in two elections, a “technical glitch” stalled the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court’s Office in completing election returns Saturday night. Over 50 minutes elapsed before election results were updated on the Secretary of State’s website at about 10:15 p.m. At the time, less than 10 precincts remained out across three local elections. Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court Louise Bond said equipment including laptops and readers are brought in from the Secretary of State’s office for the election. “We have a computer that has a reader and sometimes they don’t read, and we had a glitch in it,” she said. Cartridges that register votes from each precinct are brought to the clerk’s office where they are electronically read. Bond said the reader was unable to extract information from a cartridge that came from western Ouachita Parish.
Pennsylvania: Dismissed Luzerne County election official on leave from new job in Georgia during probe of alleged voting irregularities – Times Leader – timesleader.com
Former Luzerne County Election Bureau Director Leonard Piazza was placed on paid leave from a similar job in Georgia while state officials investigate allegations of voter fraud in a referendum that failed this week. Burke Brennan a spokesman for DeKalb County Friday confirmed Piazza was on administrative leave pending an investigation into the vote to make LaVista Hills a city. The ballot measure lost by 136 votes and according to media reports, Piazza said he took steps to attempt to prove fraud. Piazza could not be reached for comment.
Georgia: DeKalb County’s LaVista Hills election investigated for tampering | Atlanta Journal Constitution
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the GBI opened an investigation Thursday into alleged voting irregularities – including a stray voting machine memory card – in the referendum that narrowly defeated the proposed city of LaVista Hills. A DeKalb election supervisor alleged that he found an unsecured memory card Wednesday that contained results from the Briarlake Elementary precinct, according to Channel 2 Action News. It’s unknown whether the votes on the memory card were counted in the precinct’s totals, where voters supported LaVista Hills 378-313.
The extremely slow Macomb County election returns on Tuesday night are blamed, in part, by county officials on outdated technology. Despite mediocre voter turnout typical of a midterm election, many Macomb County voters went to bed on Election Night with no idea who had won the races in their community. Three of the county’s largest towns — Warren, Sterling Heights and Shelby Township –- kept voters in the dark until well after midnight. The lack of results also delayed an outcome in numerous races for the state Legislature and county Board of Commissioners that extend beyond the borders of those three municipalities. The county’s cities and townships rely upon election tabulators – the polling place machines that swallow up each voter’s ballot – which run on technology from 10 to 15 years ago. In addition, each voting precinct’s computerized results are transported by an analog line – a modem – to the county Clerk’s Office. The final step involves putting the election updates on the county’s heavily traveled election returns website.
Texas: ES&S acknowledges Bexar ballot glitch that omitted Greg Abbott’s name | San Antonio Express-News
The company that supplies Bexar County with iVotronic ballot machines acknowledged Wednesday that a glitch caused an electronic ballot to display the wrong name for the Republican candidate in the race for Texas governor. A written statement from Election Systems & Software said a faulty memory card appeared to be the reason why GOP candidate Greg Abbott’s name was missing from the ballot. In his place was Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. “I’m happy they were able to find the glitch,” said San Antonio voter Jade Stanford, who took two cell phone photos of the error that immediately went viral on the Internet. “It wasn’t Photoshop, it wasn’t botched, it was real.” Stanford said she and Bexar County voters deserved an apology from Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, who said yesterday she believed the photos had been doctored. “It’s her job to protect the voters,” she said.
As calls for a recount of the ballots in the New Brunswick election grow there are new demands for resignations following Monday night’s vote count confusion. Elections New Brunswick is hoping the release of official election results will silence the skeptics, but some politicians say a hand recount is the only way to restore confidence. “There should be a recount. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” says outgoing Public Safety Minister Bruce Northrup. New Brunswick’s chief electoral officer, Michael Quinn, insists the election results are accurate, despite tabulation troubles. “Something has to be done there and it’s gotta be done right. I think all 49 ridings have to be redone.” Elections New Brunswick confirmed there were issues with the electronic tabulating system, which was being used for the first time in the provincial election. Later, it was determined that some of the results being entered manually were not being replaced properly by subsequent results coming in from memory cards.
Some voters are still expressing concerns about the way ballots were counted in the New Brunswick election Monday evening. The CTV News election unit detected incorrect data in at least a dozen ridings an hour before Elections New Brunswick acknowledged there was a problem, which took two hours to correct. The final results are due to be confirmed on Friday, but some voters remain skeptical about whether the results are accurate. Elections New Brunswick says it is verifying the vote to make it official, as it does after every election.
Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Electronic Voting Machines | The Legal Intelligencer
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments as to whether electronic voting machines that do not produce simultaneous paper records of each vote cast violate the Pennsylvania Election Code. The 24 petitioners in the matter, whose case was argued by Michael Daly of Drinker Biddle & Reath, are seeking a declaratory judgment that would direct Carol Aichele, the secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to decertify the direct-recording electronic voting systems. Before the justices, Daly contended the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines do not provide a permanent physical record of each vote cast, as the code mandates. Although the machines can print records on request, Daly explained to the court that neither the printed records nor the electronic records satisfied the code’s requirement. Daly highlighted the petitioners’ argument that the digital records couldn’t be considered physical records since they were software-dependent, and the data could be altered or used for a fraudulent purpose without detection. He added that the machines were “utterly incapable” of verifying that a vote was cast the way the voter intended it to be.
Primary election tallies from Cochise County have been updated, after being temporarily pulled from statewide totals because incorrect results were reported Tuesday night. “We’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened,” an election official said. The results uploaded Tuesday showed “unusually high” turnout in Cochise primaries, alerting county officials that something was wrong, said Jim Vlahovich, a deputy county administrator. The data showed “more than 60 percent of the total number of registered voters had turned in ballots,” he said Wednesday. The preliminary results were pulled down early Wednesday morning, he said. “We’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened,” he said Thursday.
Shelby County Democratic Party chairman Bryan Carson said Thursday he will ask for federal monitors to oversee the county election after a glitch that he claimed caused problems for early voters during the day. But Election Commission chairman Robert Meyers said the problem should not have impacted votes being cast. Meyers said a construction crew dropped a load of rocks over ground near the early voting location at the Agricenter that was on top of a fiber-optic line. The line was used for precincts to access the registration database when voters check in, he said, and the glitch impacted more than just the Agricenter site. “That’s really kind of a back-of-the-house operation,” Meyers said. And that’s separate from the actual voting machines, which store votes on memory cards.
Elkhart County election officials are dealing with a few problems from Tuesday’s primary election, the first time they have used vote centers. Instead of staffing and equipping 117 precincts with voting machines, 25 vote centers were set up countywide, and voters were able to cast ballots at any one of those locations. County election officials are hoping to learn from a mistake that delayed the final vote count on Tuesday. Election board members and staff reviewed the results. It was a start up process with us,” said County Election Board Chairman Wayne Kramer. “We anticipated that there would be some bumps along the way, and there were a few. None of them affected actually the process.” One did develop, though, at North Side Gym. While polls were set to close at 6 p.m., long lines continued past then. The Election Board saw that coming and delivered two additional voting machines to add to the 10 already there. “As the law permits us to do, (the machines) were ushered inside the shoot, which is the 50 foot area inside the polling place so that (voters) would be permitted to vote, and that took additional time,” Kramer said.
Fairfax County election officials said Friday that they think that nearly 2,000 votes went uncounted after Tuesday’s election, a technical error that could affect the outcome of the still unresolved race for Virginia attorney general. The error stemmed from problems with a broken machine at the county’s Mason district voting center, officials said. The machine, known as an optical scanner, recorded 723 votes on election night before it broke down, elections officials said. Its memory card was then placed inside another, working machine, which recorded a total of 2,688 votes. But that tally was not included in the statement of election results delivered by the individual voting center to the county board of elections. Instead, officials received the statement that reported the 723 votes from the broken machine. The county’s board of elections believes that the larger total includes the original 723 votes, which could mean adding an extra 1,951 to the total outcome, said Seth T. Stark, chairman of the three-member electoral board.
So far, lawmakers tasked with fixing Florida’s elections issues have focused on long lines and wait times, not the administrative and equipment trip-ups that plagued counties like St. Lucie. The Legislature kicks off its two-month lawmaking marathon Tuesday, but there’s still no official push to let the state crack down harder on elections supervisors who bungle their duties. The top lawmaker delving into elections reform, Sen. Jack Latvala, has stressed the idea does warrant discussion. “I do think this is an issue that we’re going to want to debate in this committee as we put this bill together,” Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, told the Ethics and Elections Committee he chairs on Feb. 5. But Sen. President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, stressed that it’s not a top concern. “I don’t know that giving the governor or the state more authority to remove someone takes the place of having someone who can actually do the job,” Gaetz said.
Florida: County Supervisor of Elections: Private voting equipment companies should be held more responsible for election machine mishaps | TCPalm.com
St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker told state lawmakers Monday that private voting equipment companies should be held more responsible for their role in election mishaps. Speaking to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, Walker said many of the vote-counting issues experienced during St. Lucie’s election wouldn’t have occurred if the right memory cards were made available. “I believe, as (Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections) Susan Bucher stated earlier, that voting equipment companies should be held accountable for the work that they do in this state, if they are certified vendors,” Walker said. Bucher’s Palm Beach County office had its share of vendor troubles. Workers had to recopy more than 30,000 ballots after a vendor misprinted the ballot.
After a chaotic election experience that led to cries of incompetence, St. Lucie County’s longtime elections supervisor talked about what went wrong in November, and what she plans to do to make things right in the future. Gertrude Walker says this past election was full of new experiences. “We never had a multi-ballot election, that was another twist,” Walker said Monday. But it was old equipment Walker claimed was at the heart of many of the problems her office faced on Election Day.
For all the uncertainty surrounding the election-result delays that plagued the Bullitt County Board of Elections last week, two certainties did emerge: 2013 is guaranteed to go smoothly because there are no county elections, and 2014 is sufficient time to address the various memory-card calculation problems that plagued not only last week’s vote-counting, but also both the primary and general elections of 2010.