South Carolina miscounted hundreds of votes in the 2018 primary and midterm elections, according to a new report by the League of Women Voters state chapter. The errors cast doubt on the quality of programming in the election computers, on the functionality of the old hardware, and on the state’s current election infrastructure itself. (Neither political party was favored by these problems.) The state even upgraded the software on its voting machines before these elections, yet failed to fix basic problems. “These are old machines, the software quality is questionable, there are bugs that contributed to the votes being counted wrong, and we need to find a new system,” Duncan Buell, the report’s author, told WhoWhatWhy. “I think the next step is to stop using them and going to something else. Given that known bugs in the software were not fixed in the revision, I would not hold my breath for software I would trust.”
… “You just don’t do these kinds of things,” said Duncan Buell. “This business of assigning votes to the wrong candidate is just completely insane, that somebody is just laying one spreadsheet on top of another. That’s just one mistake in the programming.”
It’s a mistake, Buell said, that is simply not done by programmers who know what they’re doing. It’s a problem that was not fixed when South Carolina updated the programming for their voting machines, even though Buell had written about the error after previous elections.
Buell, a computer science professor and elections systems expert at the University of South Carolina, has been studying the state’s voting system since 2005, and writing reports for the League of Women Voters since 2010 using the state’s election data.
During the primary, the 148 voters from a precinct in Marlboro County had their votes counted twice by a failing iVotronic, the electronic voting machine that South Carolina uses. The error was not caught by the county or the state, leading to an official count that is incorrect.