Daily Archives: January 23, 2008

Sacramento to tally votes centerally

From the SacBee, Sacramento County machine flaws to delay results:

Problems with Sacramento County voting machines will stall Feb. 5’s election results for hours. Results may not come until well after your morning coffee – the next day, county elections officials said Wednesday.

“It might be slow, but it will be accurate,” offered Brad Buyse, a spokesman for the local election office.

He said the county discovered problems with the equipment used to count ballots in neighborhood polling places a couple weeks ago.

After days working with the ballot printer and election machine vendor to try to solve the problem – and Feb. 5’s presidential primary only days away – elections officials decided to take the faulty machines out of the mix.

So rather than scan ballots at each of the county’s 548 polling places, ballots will be taken back to the central office and tabulated using larger, faster machines that have passed required tests.

Tuesday election results usually come in by midnight. This time around, it could be 9 a.m. Wednesday before all the ballots are counted, Buyse said.

Comments:

  • An 8 hour delay in knowing election results is not an issue in my view
  • It would be nice to understand what specific issues were found with the machines.
  • In addition to not providing feedback about over/under votes (brought up in the article) there is an election integrity concern with moving from precinct tallying to central tallying. The chain-of-custody of the ballots becomes more suspect and the possibility of tampering while ballots are in transit or storage arises. Most election integrity advocates (who are not pushing for end-to-end verifiable systems) advocate for counting the ballots at the precinct level so that chain-of-custody issues are less pressing. For an example of recent chain of custody issues with central counting, consider the case of New Hampshire’s democratic primary (scroll down to the “Butch” and “Hoppy” part).