E-voting System Declares Wrong Winners in Fla.

An optical-scan vote-tallying system, now used by some 300 U.S. municipalities, misreported the results of a municipal election in Palm Beach County, Fla., last month.

Dominion Voting's Sequoia Voting Systems device mistakenly awarded two Wellington Village Council seats to candidates who were found in a post-election audit to have lost their races.

The results were officially changed after a court-sanctioned manual recount of the votes.

According to a story in Palm Beach's Sun Sentinel, the Sequoia vote-counting software was set up in a way that did not correspond to the setup of the Wellington County paper ballot given to voters.

As a result, the newspaper said, "Election-night totals on Wellington's three races were shifted in a circle -- with village council Seat 4 votes going to the mayor's race, votes for mayor going to council Seat 1, and votes for Seat 1 going to Seat 4," said the Sun Sentinel story.

In a product advisory notice, Dominion had warned that problems could arise if a paper ballot does not match the list of contests that is programmed into the machine.

According to Dan McCrea, president of the Florida Voters Association, the incident highlights the crucial need for "statistically significant" post-election audits.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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