Outcome of Election Unchanged, According to Officials, Despite Thousands of 'Phantom' Write-in Votes...
By John Gideon on 9/11/2008, 11:17am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon of VotersUnite.org

From Washington Post...

D.C. election officials blamed a defective computer memory cartridge yesterday for producing what appeared to be thousands of write-in votes that officials say did not exist.

The glitch caused initially inaccurate results in several contests, including two high-profile council races, and created a chaotic scene at Board of Elections and Ethics headquarters Tuesday night. Even with an extremely low turnout, there was no clarity well after midnight, when 50 people, among them candidates and their attorneys, crowded into the election board lobby and demanded answers from officials.

These are voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems, whose systems have failed in many recent elections. Their Edge touch-screen system, with its Verivote paper-trail printer, was featured in a video released this week by the UC Santa Barbra Computer Security Group. The video from the scientists at UCSB offers step-by-step instructions on how a single person can hack such a voting system, in about two-seconds, resulting in a county-wide flipped election that even a full post-election hand count of the systems paper trails would not reveal.

It has been pointed out on one of my mailing lists that this same issue may have taken place in Alameda Co, CA, in Feb. 2008.

UPDATE: As expected Sequoia Voting Systems has now made a statement that their investigation shows that the problem was user error or --- in a fresh new excuse for the company --- possibly even "static discharge". The Washington Post reports:

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with the database," said Michelle Shafer, spokeswoman for California-based Sequoia Voting Systems. "There's absolutely no problem with the machines in the polling places. No. No."

Instead, the company pointed to possible static discharge or other scenarios, including the possibility of human error. The conclusion was based on Sequoia's examination of the District's election database, according to a company statement yesterday, and the company essentially rejected D.C. election officials' assertion that "one defective cartridge" was at fault. The glitch led to a chaotic scene Tuesday night as 50 people, including several candidates and their lawyers, showed up demanding answers about the voting tallies.

One thing that Sequoia can be counted on doing is always putting the blame on the voters or the poll workers/election officials. "Static discharge" is something new that we can probably expect to hear more of in the future.

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