Voting Machine Does Not Compute – Story Does Not Compute

The Danbury NewsTimes has the story of problems with a referendum in New Milford <read>. We are always pleased to see election integrity coverage, and we agree with the sentiments of this article, however there is something more to investigate. Apparently New Milford is not following procedures or there is more to the story.

Problems with New Milford’s budget referendum last week are a cause for concern on a much bigger voting process — the presidential election in November.

The new optical scanning machine at the town’s Lanesville district malfunctioned, which necessitated the hand counting of all 426 votes there.

It is curious that a memory card for a relatively new machine malfunctioned.

This is correct a memory card should be reliable. However, it is constent with the experience of Connecticut reported by UConn tests <here> <here> <here>

It is alarming that the nearest replacement card was in Boston — three hours away.

New machines should work, but problems should be anticipated and contingencies made.

If procedures were followed this should not happen or the story is incomplete. Each polling place should have two (2) optical scan machines (purchased by the state for the municipality by Federal funds), and four (4) memory cards. Procedures call for all cards to be programmed for each election and all four to undergo pre-election testing; Leaving two memory cards, one each, in the two optical scanners. On election day if one scanner/memory card fails then the other scanner should be ready to go. In the event of two memory card failures there are the two backup memory cards.

But wait, there is more. If we understand the situation accurately, this is a referendum in seven (7) districts. They would have twenty-eight (28) memory cards and fourteen (14) scanners all programmed the same way, leaving a total of seven (7) spare scanners and twenty-one (21) spare memory cards. So either New Milford tried to do the election on the cheap and “problems should be anticipated and contingencies made” or the story is somehow inaccurate.

But the glitches in New Milford should be a warning to state election officials to come up with a more acceptable backup plan for all 169 towns.

Yes. The Secretary of the State has procedures which provide plenty of backup – an extra scanner – and two extra cards. But, unfortunately procedures and regulations are not enough because they are not always enforced or enforceable. So, as we have been saying about other aspects of the election we need laws and strict, effective enforcement – procedures and regulations are insufficient.

Update: Our understanding now is that New Milford did the election on the cheap and only paid for the programming of one memory card per polling place, rather than four as directed by the Secretary of the State. However, in a municipal referendum following directives from the State is optional.

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