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Carolab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 11:38 PM
Original message
2 NC candidates request recount--Feds to check out flaws
Posted on Thu, Nov. 11, 2004

2 N.C. candidates request recount

Feds to check out flaws in Mecklenburg, other N.C. counties


Staff Writers

With all except a few thousand votes across North Carolina counted Wednesday, two Council of State candidates asked for a recount and one of the races was still close enough that it could force a new statewide election.

Meanwhile, federal authorities intend to look into election troubles in Mecklenburg and coastal Carteret County to determine whether any activity warrants a criminal investigation, the Observer learned Wednesday.

The inquiries likely won't begin until after all the votes have been counted and the results have been certified.

"Once the dust settles we'll see whether anything needs to be investigated," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Savage said. "We're monitoring. We're watching. We're going to be contacting elections officials to see if there's anything to investigate."

Savage said his office received some complaints about Mecklenburg's election, but would not elaborate. He said they had been forwarded to Mecklenburg elections officials.

In Carteret County, about 4,500 votes were irretrievably lost because a voting machine wasn't set correctly.

Democrat Britt Cobb was losing to Republican Steve Troxler by fewer than 4,000 votes in the race for state agriculture commissioner late Wednesday. If that margin stands after Mecklenburg reports its results, a new election may be needed because the Carteret votes could have changed the result.

Cobb was one candidate who called for a recount.

"A lot of interesting things have happened, with some votes lost, some not coming in for several days or a week later, and the vote numbers constantly changing," Cobb said. "I think a recount would be best for everyone's peace of mind."

Bill Fletcher, the Republican candidate for superintendent of public instruction, asked for a recount as well. His campaign also took the additional step of filing a "protest" with the state, which elections officials will evaluate. It cites the votes lost in Carteret County and contends that the state acted illegally when it allowed voters to cast provisional ballots outside their precincts.

Fletcher was down by about 8,000 votes to Democrat June Atkinson late Wednesday. A candidate can ask for a recount if the margin is no more than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast, or 10,000 votes, whichever is less.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon, who heads the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh, said the FBI would look into what's happened in Carteret County to determine whether it should be investigated for possible violations of federal election laws.

Allegations of voter fraud and civil rights violations come under federal jurisdiction. Violations include vote buying, double voting or preventing legal voters from exercising their right to cast a ballot.

Higdon said about 20 complaints were received about the elections in the state's eastern district, and investigations were being conducted in three counties, including Carteret and Wake. He would not disclose the third county.

Complaints ranged from voter intimidation to improper campaigning, he said. There was also a complaint about how groups were registering voters.

North Carolina is far from the only state where voting problems have been reported. U.S. attorneys around the country have launched about 80 investigations of complaints received on Election Day or on the days leading up to the vote.

Probably the most widespread problem statewide was how long it took for counties to finish their official counts.

Though results were due to the state at midnight Tuesday, six counties weren't finished. Most were counting provisional ballots cast by voters who could not be found in registration books on Election Day, a complicated and time-consuming process.

By Wednesday night, five of the six counties had sent in their tallies. Only the results from Mecklenburg, where a judge's order delayed the count for more than six hours, remained.

In Wake, where a record 13,000 provisional ballots were cast, workers finally finished late in the day. Most were voters who moved without reporting it to the board of elections, said Elections Director Sherry Poucher.

"Every single one of those has to be thoroughly researched: are you registered to vote, did you move, did you vote in the correct precinct, did you vote the correct ballot in that precinct?" Poucher said. "We did everything we could to get them finished as soon as possible."
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genieroze Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 11:44 PM
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1. activity warrants a criminal investigation?
This whole election warrants a criminal investigation!

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DELUSIONAL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:09 AM
Response to Original message
2. Leave off some place names and this reads like a third world
backward country that has just thrown out a dictator -- and this is the first time anyone has every voted -- so there are lots of glitches because a fast talking salesman sold the dumb hick illiterate people in charge of voting some reject voting machines.

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KatieB Donating Member (431 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:22 AM
Response to Original message
3. Craven County, NC electronic voting (ES&S) machine blamed for miscount
New Bern Sun Journal

Election problems due to a software glitch
November 05, 2004
Sue Book
Sun Journal

A systems software glitch in Craven County's electronic voting equipment is being blamed for a vote miscount that, when corrected, changed the outcome of at least one race in Tuesday's election.

Then, in the rush to make right the miscalculation that swelled the number of votes for president here by 11,283 more votes than the total number cast, a human mistake further delayed accurate totals for the 40,534 who voted.

The glitch occurred Tuesday night as absentee ballot totals for one-stop early voting at three Craven County locations and ballots mailed-in were being entered, said Tiffiney Miller, Craven County Board of Elections director.

The Elections Systems and Software equipment had downloaded voting information from nine of the county's 26 precincts and as the absentee ballots were added, the precinct totals were added a second time. Precincts affected were Havelock East, Havelock West, River Bend, Cove City, Ernul, Fort Totten, Grover C. Fields, Glenburnie and West New Bern.

An override, like those occurring when one attempts to save a computer file that already exists, is supposed to prevent double counting, but did not function correctly, Miller said.

"I have redone every (personal electronic ballot) completely and am adding the absentees," she said early Thursday. "Every precinct was redone."

The second set of incorrect numbers came when the total for one of the batches of absentee ballots was not included in the first manual recount.

"That's why we have a week before the votes are official, so if we do find problems we can get them straight before the votes are certified," said Miller, who was in her office before 8 a.m. Thursday, hand-crunching the numbers retrieved from the voting machines.

New numbers put incumbent Commissioner Leon Staton in front of Republican challenger Tony Michalek for the Craven County Board of Commissioners District 5 seat. It does not appear that any other local races will be affected as a result of the malfunction, even with the results of about 1,000 provisional votes still to be entered Nov. 9.

Joined by her staff when the Craven County Administration Building opened, Miller already had been discussing the problem and remedies with Craven County Board of Elections Chairman Gloria Stanley, Electronic Systems and Software local representative Owen Andrews and North Carolina State Board of Elections Director Gary Bartlett.

Other than the cranking sound of numbers adding and an occasional ring of the phone, the office was dead quiet as they scrutinized the emerging tapes and hand-posted them on notebooks to be added by hand.

Craven County Commissioner Renee Sisk, a Republican who would be in the new majority on the board with Michalek's election, came by to assess the situation, followed by Craven County Manager Harold Blizzard, then Craven County Republican Party Chairman Steve Tyson, who both came in to inquire about the problem and possible solution. Then a national Republican political consultant who had watched the returns and had some concern that other precincts were involved in the problem entered the office.

Andrews arrived and made contact with the ESS home office in Omaha, Neb.

"What she is dong now is the failsafe way to make sure we get it right," said Andrews, of Owen G. Dunn in New Bern.

"When a voter casts the vote, it stays in the memory of the machine, which has redundancy as a safeguard," he said.

While there is no paper ballot, Andrews said "(Miller) has a paper trail. She can print as many paper vote tallies out of the machine as she'd like."

That information remains in the voting machine until the election is decided and it is deliberately removed.

Andrews will work with the manufacturer, Miller and the elections board to correct the problem to ensure it will not happen again, but said "it really has nothing to do with the integrity of the vote as cast or counted."

"We will produce an honest outcome by the time we canvass Tuesday," said Craven County Board of Elections member Walter Leake, who was one of the last to stop by the elections office Thursday. "The poll books will match the machine."

Election difficulties also were reported in a number of other North Carolina counties, including nearby Carteret, where 4,530 early votes were irretrievably lost.

Sue Book can be reached at (252) 638-8101 ext. 262 or .

2004 by Freedom ENC Communications. All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced without written permission from FENC Communications. For questions or comments about this site please email .

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