Overheated machines in Palm Beach County may have thrown a proverbial wrench in this year’s midterm elections counts, forcing recounts etc., but there is a deeper history of hardware issues dating back to 2008.
(TNS) — A voting system has to do two things: Count votes correctly and keep them secure.
The Sequoia voting system in Palm Beach County, harshly criticized and already old in 2007 when the county paid $5.5 million to keep it, has for years come under fire for not reliably doing one or the other — or both.
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Dominion Voting Systems, the Nebraska-based owner of the Sequoia system, balked at her comments, saying its equipment may not be to blame.
While it’s too early to pinpoint what happened and why, the machines were being run at four times the volume they would be expected to handle, company Vice President of Government Affairs Kay Stimson said.
“Palm Beach County has been running this equipment in a way that stresses it and that is highly unique,” she said. “It has also been running these machines in a mode that we have never seen before.”
John Brakey, an Arizona-based voting transparency advocate who has pushed for adoption of newer election systems, pointed out that “These machines usually run eight hours a day,” not day and night without pause.
“Everyone did the best they could,” said Brakey, “but it was an insane recount to do so much so fast.”
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WHAT IF EVERYONE COULD COUNT VOTES?
Sancho and some other elections officials, however, are encouraged by another type of voting technology.
The older Sequoia system does not have the capability, but multiple Florida counties are now using newer voting systems in which ballots are photographed and can be stored. Brakey, the Arizona activist, has successfully argued in Ohio, and sued in Alabama, that the photographs are public records and should be retained.
Because they are anonymous, the ballot images can be made public, including publishing them online. That means candidates can do their own audit of any race, and any precinct. It gives voters the data for their own 100 percent recount.
Anyone, anywhere, can count all the votes.
“You could have a completely transparent system,” Brakey said.
It’s a system that also can spot elections system problems quickly and cheaply. In Humboldt County, Calif., scanned, publicly available ballot images revealed 197 votes dropped by machines and prompted an examination of the voting system.
Now, Brakey is in Broward County, where he says he is considering suing Florida’s secretary of state to make sure counties do not immediately destroy the ballot images created by the newer systems. It’s a first step toward making them accessible, and, he says, getting beyond the distrust created when voting systems don’t work as expected.
Read the full story at GovTech.com