E-voting system awards election to wrong candidates in Florida village

Analysts warn that same Dominion Sequoia machines are used in nearly 300 U.S. municipalities

By , Computerworld |  Business, e-voting

Poulos maintained that the company's software had functioned precisely as designed and contended that the precise reason for the mismatch remains unknown.

Blogger Brad Friedman, who maintains a blog chronicling election issues, said the incident should serve as a warning to the 285 jurisdictions around the country using the Sequoia/Dominion system today.

While the hand count settled Wellington council elections, "it hasn't settled all question about what went wrong, and whether voters in the states which currently use the faulty Dominion/Sequoia system --- many of them swing states --- should rely on the results reported by it," he wrote.

The incident in Palm Beach County highlights the importance of post-election audits, said Dan McCrea, president of Florida Voters Foundation, an election watchdog group.

"The most effective way to mitigate such machine errors is to perform statistically significant post-election audits that take place before elections are certified," McCrea said.

If the Wellington results had been certified, there would have been no recourse under Florida law to change the results later, he said. "Everyone might have stood in a circle and agreed it was incorrect. But legally there would not have been a way to stand down the results," McCrea said.

Florida election law does not allow for manual recounts unless a court orders it, which is what happened in Wellington Village, he added.

McCrea noted that companies such as Dominion have to do a much better job of minimizing the potential for errors. He noted that e-voting companies are under tremendous cost pressures and may not always be able to deliver required security, he said.

"We need to consider whether it is a viable market for private companies or whether in fact it requires a hybrid public-private effort," he said.

Pamela Smith, the president of election watchdog group Verified Voting said the Wellington Village incident also highlights the need for election officials to do better pre-election logic and accuracy tests.

In this case, it's not clear whether such testing would have revealed the issue that resulted in the erroneous reporting, she said. But in many instances, such tests are not done in a robust manner, she said.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is currently funding several pilot projects designed to help develop better develop pre-election Logic & Accuracy and post-election audits Smith said.

Several jurisdictions from states such as California, Colorado and Connecticut are participating in the effort, she noted.

States such as Florida, which have a very small election result-certification window, should also consider giving election officials more time to conduct robust post election audits, she said.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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