I was supposed to be an election “watcher”, keeping an eye on how things were working as part of our voter integrity project. But our county’s ES&S 650 tabulator machine was so dysfunctional that I, and two other election “judges” (one Democrat, one Republican), ended up manhandling the machine and the ballots until 2 am just to get the vote count for our county done.
Our tabulator machine jammed and rejected ballots continually. Our election official had to mark hundreds of ballots with a sharpie just to get the machine to recognize them as ballots. For a while we had bipartisan remediation teams who negotiated and fixed ballots that were poorly marked or had overvotes. When they left, we had to fix them at the machine on the fly. I personally marked dozens of ballots to make them acceptable to our tabulating machine – darkening circles, fixing cross-outs, whiting-out overvotes, etc.
Phones were ringing – our secretary of state and news media wanted final counts. Pressure mounted. Ballots flew all over. Scans and re-scans and more re-scans. By the time we finished at 2 am, we were exhausted.
We unpaid volunteers worked our butts off, and without us the count would never have been completed. Did I see any corruption? Absolutely not. Was there opportunity for corruption? Hell yes! Do I have confidence in the quality of the count? Not much. Who knows how many ballots were not counted, or were duplicate counted?
Earlier in the week, we ran a test batch of ballots through our tabulator in which nearly half the candidates and issues on the ballots were miscounted by the machine, according to triple-checked manual audits.
This year there was much attention paid to voter integrity before the election, and competing claims about whether or how much chicanery was happening at the polls. What many of us learned is that the problems are not in the front of the house. They are in the back, where the ballots are counted.
While I did not see any evidence of intentional fraud at our county, in our small town, where friends and neighbors treat each other with respect and honesty, I can’t vouch for the many other counties nationwide using the same dysfunctional ES&S 650 tabulator system. And with or without intentional vote fraud, the integrity of the process and count results is not good.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
If you need someone to count on, count me in
Someone you can rely on through thick and thin
When you start to count the ones that you might ever doubt
If you think of counting me, count me out
Count Me In – Gary Lewis and the Playboys