November 25, 2020

Florida Voting Machines Mis-recorded Votes

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, an internal county memo has come to light, documenting misrecording of votes by ES&S e-voting machines in a May 2003 election, according to a Matthew Haggman story in the Miami Daily Business Review.

The memo, written by Orlando Suarez, head of the county’s Enterprise Technology Services Department, describes Mr. Suarez’s examination of the electronic record of the May 2003 election in one precinct. The ES&S machines in question provide two reports at the end of an election. One report, the “vote image report”, gives the vote tabulation (i.e., number of votes cast for each candidate) for each voting machine, and the other gives an audit log of significant events, such as initialization of the machine and the casting of a vote (but not who the vote was cast for), for each machine.

Mr. Suarez’s examination found that the two records were inconsistent with each other, and that both were inconsistent with reality.

In his memo, Suarez analyzed a precinct where just nine electronic voting machines were used. He first examined the audit logs for all nine machines, which was compiled onto one combined audit log. He found that the audit log made no mention of two of the machines used in the precinct.

In addition, he found that the audit log reported the serial number of a machine that was not used in that precinct. The phantom machine that appeared on the audit showed a count of ballots cast that equaled the count of the two missing machines.

Then he looked at the vote image report that was an aggregate of all nine voting machines. He discovered that three of the machines were not reported in the vote image report. But a serial number for a machine not used in the precinct appeared on the vote image report. That phantom machine showed a vote count equal to the vote count on the two missing machines. The other missing machine showed no activity.

Further examination revealed 38 votes that appeared in the vote image report but not in the audit log.

There is some evidence that the software used in this election was uncertified.

County officials don’t see much of a problem here:

Nevertheless, [county elections supervisor Constance] Kaplan insisted that Suarez’s analysis did not demonstrate any basic problems with the accuracy of the vote counts produced by the county’s iVotronic system. “The Suarez memo has nothing to do with the tabulation process,” she said. “It is very annoying that the coalition keeps equating the tabulation function with the audit function.”

Maybe I’m being overly picky here, but isn’t the vote tabulation supposed to match the audit trail? And isn’t the vote tabulation report supposed to match reality?

Very annoying, indeed.

Comments

  1. It sounds like there must have been some problem in collating or combining the audit logs from the individual machines. That is the only place that machines could go missing or new serial numbers be introduced. There’s no indication in the article of where that was done or who was responsible for that process.