2005 — Various News Reports


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The following articles are reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.

Voting glitches found in six recent elections in Miami-Dade County, Florida

Ballot testing finds potential problem with folded ballots in Boulder County, Colorado

NAACP vote hearing details new flaws in Lucas County, Ohio

Larimer County, Colorado, voting centers not answer to all voting problems

Larimer vote still up in air

1,200 phantom votes haunt election in Pitkin County, Colorado


Voting glitches in ES&S iVotronic machines found in six recent elections in Miami-Dade County, Florida


A computer error failed to count votes during the March 8, 2005, special election, calling into question five other local elections — and the future of the county's elections supervisor.

March 31, 2005 — Electronic voting machines tossed out hundreds of ballots during this month's special election on slot machines — and elections workers have traced the same computer error to five other municipal elections in the past 12 months.

The department has identified five questionable municipal races:

• West Miami,

• Bay Harbor Island

• Surfside

• A February election in Golden Beach, and

• A January vote on incorporating Cutler Ridge.

Raising the red flag: An alarmingly high number of so-called "undervotes" in the March 8 election — which only had one item on the ballot.

Embattled Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Constance Kaplan has said that the incorrectly tabulated undervotes would not have affected the outcome of the elections. But County Manager George Burgess wants to review the outcome of five other elections.

"It's disturbing, and that's an understatement," Burgess told The Herald. "We have to take our responsibility seriously. Every vote needs to be counted."

Adding to Kaplan's woes:

• She also faces an independent audit of her department,

• Demands from the gambling industry to call a new election, and

• Talk that her job may be on the line.

The reports of uncounted votes also bring renewed criticism from those who have been wary of the paper-free electronic voting machines — an unsettling development for a county that had poured substantial resources into escaping the chad-filled ghost of the 2000 presidential election.

"Her leadership is in question and has been in question for a long time," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, head of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition and a longtime critic of the elections department.

Click here for complete article.


Ballot testing finds potential problem with folded ballots in Boulder County, Colorado


Local Digest, Boulder Daily Camera

October 7, 2005 —The Boulder County Clerk and Recorder's Office identified a potential problem Thursday with its system for counting ballots in this fall's mail election.

During tests, officials determined that a problem could occur with ballots where residents opt not to vote in a particular race.

Potential effects of not voting, voting more than once, and ballot folds were among the issues officials were looking to test Thursday. Officials found that their system's digital scanning equipment might interpret a fold in the ballot as a vote, even if someone left the race blank.

A ballot fold also could cause the system to misprint a properly marked vote as an additional vote [overvote], county officials said Thursday. County Clerk and Recorder Linda Salas said officials included folded ballots in their testing process so they could identify these types of problems.

"This test has served its purpose," Salas said. "We have identified a potential problem and have taken steps to ensure that the 'potential problem' never becomes a real one."

To prevent the potential misreads on election day, officials say they plan to add a step to the visual inspection process that each ballot goes through. When a ballot is received, the envelope is opened, but the ballot is left in a protective confidentiality sleeve. It must then be passed on to another election judge to be removed from the sleeve and placed in a batch. At that point, ballots are inspected for tampering and also will be checked for folding problems. If there is a potential error, the ballot will be placed in a separate batch for counting.


NAACP vote hearing details new flaws in Lucas County, Ohio


© 2005 Abstracted from article by Jane Schmucker and Joshua Boak in Toledo Blade

Lawmakers learn of frustration, call for changes to Lucas County, Ohio, elections process

In the midst of three hours of testimony detailing confusion and frustration in Lucas County's November 8, 2005, election, Eddie Small's story drew gasps from a panel of elected officials and NAACP leaders yesterday.

Mr. Small, who was a presiding judge in the Old West End, reported that at the end of election night the paper record was blank on the two busiest voting machines at the Girl Scouts of Maumee Valley.

The rovers who came to close his precinct told him they hoped the votes were stored on the memory cards or in the machines themselves, but did not appear as concerned as Mr. Small. He said he left with no confidence that the votes from those machines were counted.

Mike Badik, Lucas County Board of Elections deputy director, took notes, but did not speak during the NAACP-sponsored hearing in Warren A.M.E. Church on Collingwood Boulevard. Afterward, he said he had not heard of that problem until yesterday.

He hypothesized that the paper had been loaded in the machines upside down, which would have allowed the machine to appear to be working, but would not have produced a printed record. That, he said, disturbed him, but he would be far more disturbed if an investigation would reveal that voters' selections had not been stored on the memory cards.

That was one of dozens of investigations that poll workers, voters, elected officials, and NAACP leaders yesterday exhorted the elections board to undertake.

WilliAnn Moore, president of the Toledo NAACP, said she will file a public records request. "I have asked for everything other than the kitchen sink," she said.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) questioned whether the $132 million in federal money appropriated for Ohio elections was spent properly, given the problems in Lucas County, which did not report its results until the morning after the election.

"We simply have to have an audit of this money," she said. "These are truly significant questions. We need to follow the money."

Ohio Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) blamed state election officials for what she described as "a meltdown" in Lucas County, and called for formation of an ad hoc committee, much like the one that delved into recent problems at the Toledo Zoo.

State Rep. Edna Brown (D., Toledo) said she was embarrassed to be from the last county in Ohio to report its election results. She said yesterday's meeting was not meant to point fingers, but to encourage everyone involved to develop a better system.

Among the many changes that must be addressed, she said, was a lack of voters' privacy. At Rogers High School where she distributed literature, she said poll workers could easily see voters' picks.

Elections Director Jill Kelly said investigations into the Nov. 8 election would begin as soon as the board certifies the vote.

"We don't want to see anyone disenfranchised," she said before leaving the hearing early, saying she had bronchitis.

Several of the roughly 25 poll workers and voters who testified said people will become too frustrated to vote if problems are not remedied quickly.

Sue Nichols said absentee ballots were mailed out so late that her daughter who was in college out of state received hers the day before the election and spent $14 to overnight it back to Toledo.

Many people spoke of names mysteriously missing from voter rolls. In one case, a presiding judge said, a whole street was missing.

If problems are not fixed, the elections board will have more trouble finding qualified people willing to work at the polls, many told the panel.

Diann Revels said she was kept at the polls and at a meeting the night before far later than she expected.

At a board-sponsored pancake breakfast held earlier yesterday, many of the same problems were discussed.

• Poll workers didn't get manuals for the new voting machines until shortly before the election.

• The system of roving workers to help close polls and take the votes downtown was time consuming.

• Calls for an advisory council of veteran poll workers to review training materials drew applause.


Contact Jane Schmucker at: jschmucker@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.


Larimer County, Colorado, voting centers not answer to all voting problems


Two weeks after the November 1, 2005, election the results still could not be finalized in Larimer County, Colorado, where the concept of voting centers originated with clerk Scott Doyle. Doyle has been touting this concept across the country and throughout Colorado. But in practice the concept has many problems and Doyle isn't entirely truthful when testifying.

Larimer vote still up in air


© 2005 by Monte Whaley, DenverPost.com

Provisional and absentee votes could change the results or force a recount on a proposal to extend term limits and the winner of a Poudre school board seat.

November 15, 2005 — The election is not over yet in Larimer County, where two razor-thin races could be affected, depending on the tallying of several hundred ballots this week.

A review of 686 provisional ballots is occurring today, while election clerks continue looking at 179 absentee ballots to check their validity, said Clerk and Recorder Scott Doyle.

The results could alter the decision in two races, including the proposal to extend term limits for most county officials from two four-year terms to three.

The measure — backed by the sheriff and two county commissioners — initially passed by 350 votes.

A race for a seat on the Poudre school board was decided by 330 votes, with Larry Neal defeating Bruce Smith.

District officials decided to postpone Monday's scheduled swearing-in ceremony for Neal and other board members from Monday until Wednesday night to await the final, official declaration of a winner.

"What all this does to all of the close races, we don't know yet," Doyle said.

The term-limits result, he added, "could be overturned or put us in recount country."

A recount is required if the margin is one-half of 1 percent of the number of votes for the winning side.

Larimer County's Canvass Board will meet Wednesday to audit and certify the election results for the secretary of state's office, Doyle said.

The 686 provisional ballots must be confirmed as cast by eligible voters, he said, along with the 179 absentee ballots.

They were originally turned in unsigned or had other problems that hindered clerks from entering them into the final total.

Doyle will meet with the Larimer County commissioners today to explain the workings of the election, including the late turnaround in the term-limits proposal.

As of 10 PM on election night, with nearly every voting center reporting, the measure was going down in defeat by a narrow margin. But by about 11:30 PM, it had gained nearly 1,000 votes to put it over the top, said Larimer County Commissioner Karen Wagner.

"I've fielded a lot of questions about (the term limits) and how it turned around overnight," said Wagner, who opposed the measure.

She said a review of the county's voting procedures may help clear up any reporting problems that emerged November 1 st .

Doyle said a simple rush of last-minute voters accounted for the late results that night.

"We got slammed on election night," including a crush of absentee ballots, Doyle said.


Staff writer Monte Whaley can be reached at 720-929-0907 or mwhaley@denverpost.com.


1,200 phantom votes haunt election in Pitkin County, Colorado by Allyn Harvey


© 2005 by Allyn Harvey, Aspen Times

November 3, 2005 — Pitkin County election officials counted approximately 1,200 phantom votes Tuesday night but it did not affect any outcomes of the election.

The miscount affected just one of the county's 10 voting precincts - but it did so in a big way.

On Tuesday night, November 1 st , election officials posted results indicating that 1,560 people voted in Precinct 5. On Wednesday, amended election returns showed 374 people living in Precinct 5 had voted.

Precinct 5 includes Maroon and Castle creeks, the Aspen Airport Business Center, Starwood and the Entrance to Aspen.

The problem does not appear to be related to the electronic voting machines, according to Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland. He said county election officials were looking at formulas used to set up the spreadsheet that tallied the votes from each precinct. Ireland said the spreadsheet formula apparently added votes cast by early and absentee voters to the votes from Precinct 5. [EJF note: This is a very questionable response as Pitkin County uses Diebold AccuVote optical scanners and GEMS software to produce election reports. Generally spreadsheets would not be used.]

The reason the outcomes weren't affected may be tied to the fact that the phantom votes reflected the actual preferences of Pitkin County's electorate. The mistake does, however, affect vote totals in all the ballot questions and races that Precinct 5 voters participated in.

With Referendum 3B, the property tax increase to build a new middle school, the revised total released Wednesday indicates 1,691 people voted in favor and 1,269 against. That's far below Tuesday night's count that had 2,155 in favor and 1,698 against. Similar discrepancies were evident in the school board race and all the ballot questions, except for the Snowmass Village ballot questions and the Twining Flats Road question, which did not include Precinct 5.

A recount is possible if election officials can't pin down the exact cause of the problem. Pitkin County voters fill out paper ballots, which scanning machines at polling places in each precinct count.

Attempts to contact Pitkin County Clerk and Recorder Silvia Davis, who is responsible for overseeing elections, were unsuccessful Wednesday evening.



| EJF Home | Where To Find Help | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter |


| Vote Fraud and Election Issues Book | Table of Contents | Site Map | Index |


| Chapter 11 — Voting Problems In The 2005 Elections |

| Next — Machine Errors Result In Hand Recounts In Ten Colorado Counties by Karen E. Crummy and Michael McCollum |


Last updated 6/14/09