The Black Box Voting site has released initial findings from their study of the logs from the Sequoia brand touch-screen voting machines used in Palm Beach, FL, in the 2004 Presidential election. The results? Around 100,000 errors on the 40 machines they used.

100,000 errors on 40 machines.

In one county.

In one election.

(UPDATE: Five minutes after posting this I was convinced I’d misread it. I went back and checked. Nope! 100,000 errors on 40 machines. Just check out all those zeroes after that one. That’s a lot of zeroes. My head is still spinning.)

Some of the highlights from the report include:

  • “several dozen voting machines with votes for the Nov. 2, 2004 election cast on dates like Oct. 16, 15, 19, 13, 25, 28 2004 and one tape dated in 2010” (they report that machine-assignment logs indicate these balloting machines were not used for any early voting periods)
  • “1,475 voting system calibrations were performed while the polls were open, providing documentation to substantiate reports from citizens indicating the wrong candidate was selected when they tried to vote” (yes, they had to open them up, mess around with the guts and then close them back up in the middle of election day, nearly a thousand and a half times)
  • “[voting machine] logs rule out the possibility that these were Logic & Accuracy (L&A) test results, and verified that these results did appear in the final totals”

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

Many of these machines showed unexplained log activity after the L&A test but before Election Day. In addition, many more machines without date anomalies showed this log activity, which revealed someone powering up the machine, opening the program, then powering it down again. In one instance, the date discrepancy appeared when someone accessed the machine two minutes after the L&A test was completed.

Voting machines are computers, and computers have batteries that can cause date and time discrepancies, but it does not appear that these particular discrepancies could have been caused by battery problems.

The evidence indicates that someone accessed the computers after the L&A and before the election, and that this access caused a change in the machine’s reporting functions, at least for date and time. Such access would take a high degree of inside access. It is not known whether any other changes were introduced into the voting machines at this time. As learned in the Hursti experiments, it is possible for an insider to access the machines and leave no trace, but sometimes a hasty or clumsy access (such as forgetting to enter a correct date/time value when altering a record) will leave telltale tracks.

Of course, when they asked the IT supervisor for the county elections board to name who had access to the machines, or whether they could set up a day to test the machines themselves, they say “the IT person, Jeff Darter, remained silent and never answered the question.”

Welcome to the 21st Century, folks. Want to vote? Don’t bother. It’s already taken care of.

If the whole idea of ~100,000 anomolies and errors in one county bothers you, or the idea of electronic voting with no paper trail and zero accountability bothers you – and they should – then consider doing something to help these folks out: NC VOTER, a grassroots group advocating for verified voting and against paperless electronic voting. I’ve talked to them at various things (Carrboro Day, for example) and they’re good peeps. If you’re in another state, look for a group there. This is a huge deal that I think a lot of people think doesn’t matter since it “fixes” the whole issue of butterfly ballots; the fact is, yeah, something may be getting “fixed” alright, but it’s not what we think.