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POL PA County Election Turned Into "Nightmare" After Voting Machines Malfunctioned
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  1. #1

    PA County Election Turned Into "Nightmare" After Voting Machines Malfunctioned

    I have not lived in the Lehigh Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton) for about 45 years now but if even Easton Democrats are alarmed by the voting machines something is WAY WRONG. After all it was Democrat Gov. Tom Wolfe who insisted that these machines be installed. And quickly!


    Tyler Durden


    A couple of minutes after polls closed in Easton, Pennsylvania on Election Day, the chairwoman of the county Republicans, Lee Snover, realized something had gone horribly wrong.

    When vote totals began to come in for the Northampton County judge's race, it was obvious there was a problem. The Democratic candidate, Abe Kassis, only had 164 votes out of 55,000 ballots across 100 precincts. In an area where you can vote for a straight party ticket, it was near a "statistical impossibility", according to the New York Times.

    When paper backup ballots were recounted, they showed Kassis winning narrowly, 26,142 to 25,137, over his opponent, the Republican Victor Scomillio. Snover said at about 9:30PM on November 5, her "anxiety began to pick up".

    “I’m coming down there and you better let me in,” she told someone at the election office after eventually getting through to them on the phone.


    Matthew Munsey, the chairman of the Northampton County Democrats who helped with the paper ballot recount said: “People were questioning, and even I questioned, that if some of the numbers are wrong, how do we know that there aren’t mistakes with anything else?”

    The issue in Northampton County continues to highlight fears and mistrust over election security that the nation is feeling on a broader scale heading into 2020. The machines used in Northampton County were also used in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, crucial areas for next year's Presidential election.

    Calibration of the voting ecosystem is often invoked by those who lose by a small margin.

    Snover echoed voter concerns: “There are concerns for 2020. Nothing went right on Election Day. Everything went wrong. That’s a problem.”

    Voters around the country say that machines exacerbate an already grueling voting process that is replete with long lines and frustrated poll workers.

    Michelle Broadhecke of Easton, like many others who watched their Democratic candidate go down in flames in 2016, said her anxiety about elections began after Trump won.

    She said: “It made me sad because with everything that’s going on, you kind of worry about: Was something tampered with, or was it just a mistake. There’s just too much going on that you worry about those things. And you don’t want the wrong people in the wrong places.”

    No study has been conducted to determine why the machines malfunctioned in Northampton County. The machines stay locked away for 20 days after the election, per state law. The prevailing theory has been a bug in the software and there have been no visible signs of outside meddling, according to a senior intelligence official.

    Or as Democrats call it, "Russian interference".

    County officials say the machines worked as they should have, with the paper ballot backup process working as advertised.

    Katina Granger, a spokeswoman for Election Systems & Software, the manufacturer of the machines said: “We also need to focus on the outcome, which is that voter-verified paper ballots provided fair, accurate and legal election results, as indicated by the county’s official results reporting and successful postelection risk-limiting audit. The election was legal and fair.”

    Others say the mess highlights a lack of uniformity for purchasing voting systems on a national scale. Federal testing standards for election machines haven’t been updated since 2005, when a large percentage of the machines were not digital, the Times notes.

    Kevin Skoglund, a senior technical adviser for the National Election Defense Coalition, a nonpartisan group that focuses on election security issues, commented: “Not only is that a decade before the current cybersecurity threats to our elections, it is two years before the first iPhone. There is a newer 2015 standard, but the Election Assistance Commission lets voting system vendors choose which one to use.”

    The machines that broke are called the ExpressVoteXL and are made by Election Systems & Software. It is among the most high end machine is being called a "luxury one-stop" voting system that combines a 32 inch screen with a paper printer.

    There are nearly 6,300 ExpressVoteXL machines in use across the country and the way they were chosen for use in Philadelphia has drawn significant scrutiny. Since 2013, ES&S had been lobbying two Philadelphia city commissioners and had donated $28,000 in campaign contributions and direct lobbying of Al Schmidt, one of the city's commissioners.

    In total, E.S.&S. spent more than $425,000 in lobbying expenses related to the City of Philadelphia.

    Emails obtained by the city comptroller also found that E.S.&S. had influenced the writing of the city commissioners’ $22 million budget request for new election machines, tilting the process in favor of its machine, the ExpressVoteXL. The city eventually purchased the machines for $29 million in February.

    But the machines are supposed to be able to test themselves to prevent what happened in Northampton County. According to the Times:

    The machines began arriving in the county in August, having gone through a federal and state certification process. The only remaining testing to be done was what officials called a “logic and accuracy test,” which is a quick dry run of roughly 20 dummy ballots. But the ExpressVoteXL has an auto-test function in which the machines can simulate a full digital test, a feature that election security experts say is ill-advised.

    Skoglund continued: “It doesn’t test if the touch screen or the scanner work. It doesn’t even cast votes for everyone on the ballot. It is especially concerning that it can send made-up votes to the vote counting software without needing a real ballot. Fake ballots are a feature no voting machine should have.”

    The automatic tests in Northampton proved to be problematic in that they didn't even cast votes for every candidate.

    The machines were rolled out and used anyway.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    22,879
    Did I read somewhere that the machines are being made outside of the US?
    "Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."
    -Ronald Reagan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    SE Okieland
    Posts
    7,654
    PA County Election Turned Into "Nightmare" After Voting Machines Malfunctioned

    This is coming to the 2020 election....

    Voter ID and paper ballots are required to stop the stealing of elections by the democraps....

    Texican....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    just over the next hill
    Posts
    12,594
    Paper ballots don't necessarily stop cheating. We had an election stolen here a number of years back, using boxes of paper ballots produced from a car trunk at 11 pm, all of which were marked for the Democrat, who then "won".
    "You're not living in the story the world tells you you're living in. The story is not about the Clash of Civilizations, the March of Progress, the American Dream, the Rise of Civilization or the Struggle of Race, Class, and Gender. It's about the triumph of Jesus Christ in rescuing us from this passing world and bringing us into eternal ecstasy and perfection."---Mark Shea

  5. #5
    Amazing all the problems surfacing with voting machines. Are they grooming us for the big uh-oh moment?

  6. #6
    Since I currently live in Central Pa, I was far more aware of this situation in York County. If ever there was an opportunity for vote tampering, this new system provides it.


    https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2019/...ts/4167985002/

    Horrendous' problems with York County's new paper ballots, say voters, poll worker
    SHELLY STALLSMITH | YORK DAILY RECORD
    Updated 9:10 p.m. EST Nov. 5, 2019

    How to use the new voting machines in York County
    Casey Brady, a voting technology coordinator for York County, demonstrates the new paper ballot voting machines and how they alert voters to errors.
    PAUL KUEHNEL, PKUEHNEL@YDR.COM
    Jerry Brenchley has lived in West Manheim Township, York County, since 1984.

    Before that, he lived in Los Angeles. The 72-year-old voted in every election in both areas because his grandparents told him that’s the only way to make sure his voice is heard.

    Brenchley’s voice isn’t going to be heard in this election because, for the first time, he didn’t vote.

    He and his wife tried, he said. They stood in line at St. David’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for nearly an hour and still hadn’t reached the registration table to get a ballot.

    “There were five or six ladies handing out ballots,” Brenchley said. “And one came out and said, ‘I’m sorry, they just sent us one machine.’ People were walking out.

    “This stinks, I mean it really stinks.”

    More: Where to find live results for the 2019 election in York County

    More: Election Day 2019: What you need to know about races, polling places and more


    Brenchley isn’t alone in his complaints. Voters around York County were voicing concerns about the new paper ballot system.

    They are worried about this year’s election, but Tuesday’s long lines and voting difficulties have them more concerned about next year’s presidential election.

    “We waited 2 hours to vote in 2016,” Valerie Herman said Tuesday. “If things don’t change for next year, we’ll have to camp out.”

    Herman also voted at St. David’s Evangelical Church. She said it took 10 minutes to get in the door at the church and about 45 minutes total to cast her vote.

    The experience at the polls
    Campaign signs line the street near a polling place in Springettsbury Township as the sun rises on Election Day.
    Campaign signs line the street near a polling place in Springettsbury Township as the sun rises on Election Day.
    PAUL KUEHNEL
    Wendy Lunko, judge of elections for Conewago Township District 1, said the voting experience had been “horrendous.”

    “The machines are cumbersome, people don’t understand them, even with explanations, the voting process takes probably three times the amount of time it previously took, and given the turnout in 2016, next year, we will have voter suppression and a lack of voters because the wait to vote will be three or four hours at a minimum,” she said.

    On the surface, the system sounds simple. Grab a ballot and a black Sharpie and go to a designated area. Fill in the circle next to the candidate of your choice with the Sharpie.

    Take the completed ballot to the scanner and feed it one page at a time into the machine. Collect your “I voted” sticker and leave.

    “Voters are confused about the process, think they should get a paper receipt, and have no idea about completing the little bubbles,” Lunko said. “Even telling people, we’ve spoiled numerous ballots already, from people overvoting.”

    Each polling site has one scanner. In addition to creating bottlenecks at numerous sites around the county, some weren’t working properly.

    Voters were told to put completed ballots in a slot at the back of the scanners at the YMCA and Spry Church polling spots. They were told the ballots would be scanned and counted later.

    At the Newberry Township building, the scanner tallied the second sheet, but wouldn’t take the first sheet. They were collected in a separate slot to be counted later.

    The scanner went down at Shrewsbury Township during the second hour of voting and ballots were collected to be tallied later in the day.

    How officials are responding

    Photos: Election Day November 2019
    View All Photos
    The Pennsylvania Department of State will be working with York and other counties to resolve any issues that arose during this election, J.J. Abbott, press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf's office, said via email Tuesday evening.

    More than $100 million in funding will cover the majority of the cost of purchases by counties, Abbott said. The new machines are more secure to prevent vote manipulation, he added.

    Some problems with the new paper ballots in York County occurred because ballots at those polling stations were printed on the wrong paper size. This specific issue occurred in Mount Wolf borough, at York Township 5-3 and the Newberry Township 3rd precinct.

    The ballots that could not be scanned went into an emergency ballot box. Those ballots were to be scanned and counted after the polls closed, said Nikki Suchanic, York County's director of elections.

    The paper ballot and scanning method was picked because it was considered more cost-effective than other options, Suchanic added. The two-page ballot also slowed down the process. Suchanic said. The ballot referendum required a second page.

    “We just didn’t realize it would be as challenging and time consuming to scan the ballots,” President Commissioner Susan Byrnes said Tuesday night. Byrnes added the new voting system cost the county $1.5 million.

    There could be fewer polling stations next year, Byrnes added.

    "For the next election, we’ll be looking at more scanners probably, and considering condensing polling places," she said.

    Dominion Voting Systems is the company that sold the voting machines to the county. On Tuesday, as the polls were closing, vice president of government affairs Kay Stimson said, "York County has some amazing election officials and poll workers, who immediately sprung into action today when they noticed that some ballots were printed to the wrong size – hence, the scanner issue. They were quickly able to sort out the misprints and avoid any major issues, but we are told that some voters had to place their ballots into a secured ballot box in order to be counted after the polls close. These are paper ballots, mind you, which can be hand counted or re-scanned. I’m sure the county can provide any additional details."

    Complaints were sent to both parties in York County.

    Jeffrey E. Piccola, chairman of the York County Republican Committee, has been hearing about the problems, and that is a concern for next year.

    “The commissioners simply did not provide for enough scanners,” he said. “They better get more machines next year or they’re going to have a disaster.”

    Piccola said one poll in Fairview Township had an hour wait just to scan ballots. But it’s more than just needing more machines, he said. They probably will need more poll workers, too, to answer questions about the ballots and the scanner.

    He said Gov. Tom Wolf bears a lot of responsibility for this because counties were required to get new machines, but funding wasn’t provided.


    Help the York Daily Record continue to provide in-depth reporting like this. Find our latest subscription options and special offers here.

  7. #7
    Any electronic system must have a paper ballot as well if trends continue I think a major campaign for a constitutional amendment would be in order at least for Federal elections (which would like to force the States into doing it for most local elections).

    In Ireland (which is much smaller) paper ballots are used and counting doesn't start until 9 am the next day, that is just how it is - you get exit polls after the actual polls close, but the parties, press, and public just have to wait for the hand counting.

    Takes longer but the results tend to have a better chance of being accurate (you have to pay off a lot more people to screw things up).
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Holland, MI
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    The US is a lot bigger than Ireland.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati
    Posts
    2,512
    Paper ballots don't necessarily stop cheating. We had an election stolen here a number of years back, using boxes of paper ballots produced from a car trunk at 11 pm, all of which were marked for the Democrat, who then "won".
    THIS HAPPENS. In 2012, worked at a precinct that somehow never seemed to have had Republicans assisting on election day. Each precinct is SUPPOSED to have equal numbers of R and D workers on election day, but somehow this D stronghold precinct never had ANY Rs working there. A shortage of workers, you see. The precinct judge was naturally, a Dem. She was REALLY HAPPY to see her new R precinct workers.

    When setting up the night before, all the ballots, poll books, etc. were supposed to be locked in the voting tabulation machine. I happened to nudge the ballot bag, which was not being locked up, with my foot. OOOPS there were two large packages of ballots left in the ballot bag that the precinct judge was in charge of taking that night. HOW COULD THAT HAVE HAPPENED?

    We had to unlock the ballot box and add the ballots to the pile inside. Then both the D judge and the R assistant judge locked up the box. How inconvenient. In past elections, the Ds had BOTH keys needed to open the ballot box. Today they had to share the keys.

    The next day, after voting was over, the Ds objected to following the BOE's closing procedures. THEY NEVER COUNTED THE BALLOTS BEFORE, they complained. THEY NEVER COUNTED POLL BOOK SIGS to match to the ballot count. Oh so much work we made them do that night.

    The kicker was when we went to put the ballots and poll books in the ballot bag, THE ZIPPER WAS BROKEN and the BALLOT BAG COULD NOT BE SECURED. We Rs insisted we call the BOE and report it; the BOE was nonchalant; just send it over with the D precinct judge, they said.

    This was one precinct in Cincinnati. How many opportunities to stuff the ballot box did you count?

    Now imagine this across the over 115,000 polling places in the US.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Green County, Kentucky
    Posts
    11,193
    Quote Originally Posted by ShyGirl View Post
    The US is a lot bigger than Ireland.
    True, it is. But our voting is done by precinct, and the votes counted by precinct. Taking it in small bites like that, it shouldn't be any more difficult than counting votes in a smaller country such as Ireland.

    Kathleen
    Behold, these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him.
    Job 26:14

    wickr ID freeholder45

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ShyGirl View Post
    The US is a lot bigger than Ireland.
    Yes, but it still might be worth waiting a week to know the final result if it meant for more honest elections.

    Laurane will know but I think Canada (or at least some provinces) use a combined system that prints out ballots.

    If things are not returned to the paper as a baseline, just accept that voting machines can be hacked by 7th-grade nerds (and have been, the current ones anyway) and that they probably will be hacked by whoever can afford to do so in the future.

    Not really great for any type of constitutional republic.
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

  12. #12
    Thanks, Laurane you beat me to it!
    expatriate Californian living in rural Ireland with husband, dogs, horses. garden and many, many cats

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