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States rebut RNC complaints about e-voting systems

RNC says votes cast for Romney are credited to Obama; state officials say that's impossible

November 2, 2012 04:15 PM ET

Computerworld - In a sign of increasing anxiety over the use of electronic voting machines, the Republican National Committee this week alleged problems with e-voting machines in six states that use them for early voting.

John Phillippe, general counsel of the RNC, contended in a letter to the secretaries of state in Nevada, Ohio, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Colorado that voting machine errors caused some early votes cast for Gov. Mitt Romney to be credited to President Barack Obama.

Phillippe said in the letter that the RNC learned about the alleged voting machine errors from media and citizen reports.

"I understand that, in a significant number of cases, voting machines in your states have populated a vote for Barack Obama when a voter cast his or her ballot for Mitt Romney," Phillippe wrote. "I further understand that the causes of this problem are varied, and include miscalibration and hyper-sensitivity of the machines."

Phillippe asked that election officials in the six states re-calibrate the voting machines on election day or one day before the elections. It also asks that additional technicians be available on Election Day in case of "increased calibration problems."

Phillippe also called on election officials to ensure that voters are reminded to "double-check that the voting machine properly recorded their vote before final submission."

The RNC letter evoked an angry response from a Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, who called the RNC claims "irresponsible" and "unfortunate," and said that they are based on rumor, hearsay and unconfirmed media reports.

"Unfortunately your letter fails to provide any direct evidence that any particular voter in Nevada experienced any 'errors' with their voting machines or any details which could be used to open an investigation," Miller wrote in a letter to RNC officials.

Miller said the RNC letter didn't identity any affected voters whose votes were allegedly miscast, or any polling place where the errors allegedly occurred.

So far, he said, the state has not received a single complaint from early voters regarding their use of electronic voting machines.

Miller contended that it's "technically impossible" to pre-program e-voting machines in Nevada to vote for a specific candidate. The machines are tested by officials in each of the state's 17 counties, he noted.

"While it is possible for a voter to inadvertently select a candidate, it is not possible for the machine to automatically select a candidate," Miller wrote.

Miller added that his office, along with the FBI and Nevada state attorney general's office, had investigated similar complaints in 2010. That probe concluded that any claims that Nevada's electronic voting machines malfunctioned or were pre-programmed lacked merit.

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