29 March 2006

Minor glitch found in Allegheny County voting machines

Expert tricks county's new electronic system but calls the problem a minor one

Post-Gazette - March 29, 2006

HARRISBURG -- After four hours of testing yesterday, a glitch was found in the voting system Allegheny County is planning to use in the May 16 primary.

[...] A week ago elections were disrupted in Chicago and the rest of Cook County because of a rash of problems with two of Sequoia's other voting systems. Problems occurred there when poll workers tried to transfer results from the machines onto tabulators that compile vote totals, said Joan Krawitz, executive director of Vote Trust USA and a resident of Cook County.

The problem Dr. Shamos found yesterday sounds similar, she said.

As part of his testing, which continues today, Dr. Shamos cast 12 votes in a mock primary. The machine reported the votes correctly but there was a problem when its data cartridge was inserted into a central computer. Audit trails, which are supposed to carry records of individual ballots, were incorrect.

"I've got the correct vote totals, but I've got a very strange, apparently corrupted audit trail," Dr. Shamos said. "The totals are all correct but the audit trail is completely haywire."

Paul Terwilliger, Sequoia's director of product development, could not immediately fix the problem or say what caused it.


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