Palm Beach County Lost 3,400 Votes; Claims Different Sequoia Scanners Count Differently
from the are-they-serious? dept
For all the trouble surrounding e-voting, some folks believe that optical scan technologies that simply count the paper ballot votes are a decent solution. Of course, those optical scan technologies are often made by the same companies that make the e-voting equipment, and have been shown to have numerous problems going back many years. And, as per usual with these e-voting companies, they’ve been highly resistant to independent inspection of the systems. Perhaps that’s because the machines can’t do the one thing they’re supposed to do properly: count the votes.
Down in Palm Beach County, Florida (yes, the home of the infamous 2000 election year “butterfly ballot” with its hanging chads), officials are admitting that they’ve somehow lost about 3,400 ballots. But they don’t seem to be saying they physically lost the ballots — they’re saying that the optical scan machines, provided by Sequoia Voting Systems (no stranger to e-voting counting problems) count the ballots differently when the same ballots are run through different machines. In trying to explain how come a “recount” showed 3,400 fewer ballots than the original count, a county official explained:
The seven high-speed tabulating machines used in the recount are much more “unforgiving” than those that process votes on election day
Does that not seem highly problematic to people? Isn’t part of the point of these optical scan machines that they’ll count the ballots consistently? If everyone seems to admit that there’s an element of near total randomness (chalked up to how “unforgiving” the machines are) in these machines, isn’t that reason enough to question their usage at all? As for the election in question, it appears that officials have decided to throw up their hands at the controversy and certify the election, despite the fact that this “unforgiving” recount changed the results of the election. Update: Well, now officials are claiming that it wasn’t a technology problem but that they simply didn’t feed ballots into the machine. That’s not particularly comforting either — and it’s still troublesome that they would suggest that machines would count the votes differently in the first place.