Lawyer Questions Voting Machines - Asks local officals to watch them closely

Released on = October 6, 2006, 10:13 pm

Press Release Author = Press Dept

Industry = Government

Press Release Summary = RI Attorney Keven A. McKenna says six out of six voting
machines in ward 8 were incorrect, that the machines are not in complaince with
state law, that local candidates and officals should closely monitor the machines,
and it is a popular brand across the US with documented flaws..

Press Release Body = (Providence, Rhode Island, USA) According to Attorney Keven A.
McKenna, the optical scanning voting machines used in Providence \'s Eighth Ward do
not comply with state law in that it counts computer ballots, not votes. That same
equipment is used throughout Rhode Island .
In a memorandum submitted to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, McKenna discussed the
importance of the machine being able to count votes, not just computer ballots.
McKenna is handling the 8th ward election challenge of Wilbur W. Jennings who lost
by only 11 votes.
What McKenna did not include it in the memorandum, is that the Optech Eagle
equipment used by the Board of Elections throughout Rhode Island has been found
documented as having problems registering votes.
San Francisco, who uses the same voting equipment that we do throughout Rhode
Island, had some precincts that showed more votes counted than the number of ballots
cast. In others there were more ballots than votes counted In one polling precinct,
# 2214 the city counted 416 ballots, but there were only 362 signatures in the
roster, and the secretary of state found only 357 paper ballots. This is similar to
the issues raised in Providence's Ward 8 where none of the machines in six precincts
had a vote count that equalled the number of voters who cast ballots.
This equipment, made by ES&S, a company owned in part by Nebraska U.S. Republican
Senator Chuck Hagel has been documented with numerous \"errors\" over the years
including machines that suddenly start counting backwards as they did in Broward
County Florida and rural Oklahoma during the Bush election.
Other past documented failures acknowledged by ES&S include a recount ordered by the
Hawaii Supreme court. Machine tests there initially showed no fault but on retesting
intermittent errors appeared on the same machines. ES&S paid $250,000 to settle
contract disputes and $280,000 to recount the ballots after complaints about poorly
trained poll watchers, malfunctioning voting machines and spoiled ballots.
ES&S machines also completely shut down the Venezuelan elections, and in Texas ES&S
went on record to assure voters that their \"votes were never lost, just uncounted."
\"The companies who sell us the machines, then sell us the contract to maintain and
service them, along with administrators have attempted to eliminate everything that
could easily verify or challenge the machines.\" McKenna said in an interview today.
\"There is no way to immediately verify ballot stuffing easily without considerable
man hours expended. In the old days, you count the slips given at the poll to use
the voting machine and if that official count varied from the number of votes the
machine said was cast, we know immediately that we may have an issue, and could then
review the voter check in and voter check out sheet for further proof.
\"Today you go in to a precinct and sign one book. ONE BOOK that we seem not to make
copies of, disseminate or otherwise oversee. The Board of Canvassers has to
optically scan this book to \"audit\" or \"prove\" the number of ballots on the machine
against the voters who cast votes. Even the simple 'old school' approach per
precinct like subtracting unused ballots and mistakes from the total ballots sent to
the precinct, which SHOULD equal the ballot count on the machine would help. We
still have the poll warden fill out a form, but no one checks or verifies the unused
ballots after the election. They just throw them away . . ."
"I am asking local officials and local candidates to be aware of this, and keep
watch for machine counts that don't make sense. Perhaps after counting the unvoted
ballots before the election begins to confirm the given count, then at the end of
the election, physically counting and checking the number of unused ballots and
mistakes against the machine count would be a safeguard and create some kind of
check against whether their town or city is properly represented."
"We need common sense to monitor the machines, not just trust," McKenna stressed.
Then he asked, "I understand that only employees of ES&S can test the equipment and
software they supply for errors . . . no independent review . . . now isn't THAT
interesting ?"
The ES&S Optech Eagle is federally approved and is a popular choice in many states.
- 30 -
Press site is at
ES&S fine information here

Web Site =

Contact Details = Bob Cooper
127 Dorrance Street
Providence , 02903


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