12 November 2004

Computer Glitch Changes Election Result

November 12, 2004

A hand recount of ballots cast using optical scanning technology gave a Democrat enough extra votes to bump a Republican from victory in a county commissioner's race.

The erroneous tally was caused when the Fidlar Election Co. scanning system recorded straight-Democratic Party votes as votes for Libertarians in southeastern Indiana's Franklin County.

The recount Thursday pushed Democrat Carroll Lanning from fifth to third in the three-seat commissioners race, while Republican Roy Hall fell to fifth.

Democrats had suspected a glitch after preliminary election results included a Libertarian congressional candidate winning 7.7 percent of the vote in Franklin County, more than four times better than he did across the entire district.

Fidlar workers said no programming problems were found in the Accuvote 2000 ES system, but said the Rock Island, Ill.-based company is going over its programming elsewhere in the state and in Wisconsin and Michigan, which, like Indiana, have straight-party voting.

Fidlar national sales manager Bill Barrett on Friday called the glitch an "isolated incident" and said no other election results were in question.

A spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state's office said state officials were waiting to learn more from the company and Franklin County. Pre-election tests had found no problems, Kate Shepherd said, and the state was unaware of other similar troubles.


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