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Big Presidential Vote Count (Ballot Definition File) Error Found and Fixed in New Mexico [View All]

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-05-08 03:57 PM
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Big Presidential Vote Count (Ballot Definition File) Error Found and Fixed in New Mexico
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Big Presidential Vote Count Error Found and Fixed in New Mexico

A test in Santa Fe County finds and fixes an error that could have cost Democrats thousands of votes.

By Steven Rosenfeld . Posted October 4, 2008.

An electronic voting machine test in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, on Friday revealed a programming error that, had it not been caught and corrected before the start of early voting next week, would not have counted hundreds -- or possibly thousands -- of votes for president and U.S. Senate in this Democratic stronghold.

The software error concerned straight party voting, where voters fill in one oval on their paper ballot that indicates they want to vote for all the candidates from a political party. The test revealed that the precinct optical-scanner computers, which read hand-marked paper ballots and compile the precinct vote totals, were not counting "straight party" votes for president and U.S. Senate.

"It was a simple error," said Rick Padilla, a senior system supervisor for the Santa Fe County Clerk office, which runs county elections. "When they did the programming, they didn't link the oval to the (presidential and senatorial votes on the) straight party ticket."


What is unsettling about the test in Santa Fe County on Friday was the fact that the error affected the two most hotly contested races on the ballot -- president and U.S. senator. A more likely programming error would have have either affected all the party's candidates globally or a single race.


Thus, hundreds if not thousands of potential presidential votes -- most for Democrats -- could have been lost had county officials not discovered the software error in testing.

A ballot definition file error could cause miscounts or lost votes on any electronic voting system.
The only check on the accuracy of these files occurs during pre-election testing.

The M100 tabulator is used in numerous swing states such as Montana, Iowa and Indiana, according to, a nonpartisan group that tracks electronic voting issues.

"The main thing is this is a recoverable error," said Pam Smith, president of the Verified Voting Foundation. "In New Mexico they have paper ballots. They can recount them if you need to. New Mexico has a (vote count) audit provision (in state law). In another state, if this happens, you could miss a ballot definition file error."


Talk about being "Fooled Again". Starting years ago, efforts have been made to point out this vulnerability. Unfortunately, none of them included a big name so there probably wasn't much attention paid.

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