Once again, myth of accurate official vote counting debunked

South Carolina voting system audited by citizens shows that votes, images of ballots do not support numbers. Like Bridgeport, this is an example of where transparency, FOI, and independent citizen investigation eventually provided the facts. Yet, again where government and the official system failed to certify accurate election results. Machines, hand counting, and communication procedures should be expected to occasionally breakdown, but the official system should be expected to find and correct those errors.

Charleston City Paper: Voting process must be simple and transparent – Too complicated for its own good <read>

A group of citizens, in association with the S.C. League of Women Voters, has conducted an audit of Richland County voting machine results from last November, and the numbers don’t lie. According to the LWV, more than 1,000 votes from various precincts were missing from the certified totals in November’s General Election. Elsewhere in the county, the detailed vote image file did not provide confirmation for the 1,362 votes that were certified.

The Richland County voting machine data was independently analyzed by Duncan Buell, a computer science professor from the University of South Carolina, and Chip Moore, a Massachusetts programmer and South Carolina native.

“The failure to count votes from some voting machines and the failure to document votes from other voting machines is a human failure, but it’s a human failure that the software should have caught, so the root cause is a software system that isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do,” Moore said in a LWV statement. “What we have done is to run some self-checks that should always have been in the system.”

This is only the latest controversy over the 1,200 iVotronic touchscreen voting machines that the state uses exclusively. A few weeks ago, Colleton County reported 13,045 votes for statewide offices on Nov. 2. But an election audit showed that only 11,656 ballots were cast that day, according to the signature rolls. That means an extra 1,389 votes were reported and certified.

More from the Press Release, Q&A, and Report. Conclusion from the report:

We are not suggesting or making accusations of fraud, conspiracy, or similar
deliberate attempts to corrupt the vote in Richland County. What we feel we
can justifiably say, however, is that the election system (hardware,
software, and procedures) has failed. Software that is not written to perform
obvious checks and balances to anticipate and check for the errors likely to be
made by fallible (and mostly volunteer) poll workers at the end of a long
election day is unacceptable, and it is a software failure that such checks and
balances apparently do not exist in the election system used in South Carolina.

What we have done is really no more sophisticated than totaling a spreadsheet
across rows and down columns and then totaling the row sums and column
sums to get a grand total in the bottom right corner. From the event log we
can get (or should be able to get, if the logs are complete) a list of machines
used and a count of votes cast per machine. From the vote image file we can
get detailed counts by precinct, machine, ballot image, and candidate. If the
problems we have observed in Richland County can be exposed as easily as
this, by citizen observers without access to hardware, software, or procedures
manuals, then we suggest that the system has failed and that post-election
audits such as ours should be mandated. If the software as written and in use
will not find these errors, then software should be written and used that will
find these errors.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.