Monday, October 11, 2004

No harm done with glitches, election officials say

By Richard Borreca, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 7, 2004


Election officials say they are "going through a learning process" as they try to combine two different voting machine systems used in this year's elections.

Last month, problems popped up in the reports of the primary election votes.

Officials double-counted some of the people voting in the Sept. 18 special and primary elections.

Miscounted were more than 6,000 voters in a report issued Sept. 21-- three days after the special and primary elections -- labeled "final printout."

Officials, however, said the additional voters were subtracted in a final tally issued Sept. 23. They added that it affected voter turnout figures only and not votes in individual races.

The double count was blamed on the state's two different voting systems, the Election Systems and Software Inc. optical scanners, which counted most of the votes, and the new eSlate electronic voting machines made by Hart Intercivic.

No election results were changed by the double count, according to elections officials.

Office of Elections spokesman Rex Quidilla said the state is allowed to make "these kinds of adjustment."

"We are aware of this issue. It is a known issue, and it is part of the learning process," Quidilla said.

Scott Nago, counting center operations coordinator, said, "ES&S counted people who had only voted in the special election, and the Hart system counted everyone who voted in both the special and the regular election."


Kitty Lagareta, an official state elections observer, said she felt the Elections Office had not done enough planning in incorporating the new voting system.

"The observers had a lot of concerns about it. It is one of my concerns about the agency. ... They rushed the implementation of the machines.

"I would have preferred if they had thought it through prior to the actual voting," Lagareta said.

One month before the primary election, the Office of Elections announced that it would use the eSlate machines, which make it easier for disabled voters to vote at the polls.


A group of concerned voters, Safe Vote Hawaii, launched a campaign this week to ask voters not to use the eSlate machines because they do not print a copy of the ballot.

"Our message is simple: Without paper ballots a voter has no way to verify that his vote has been counted, and there is no way to conduct a valid audit of elections," said Jason Forester, a technical representative for Safe Vote Hawaii.

Gov. Linda Lingle has also noted that the electronic voting machines do not record votes on paper. "I am concerned any time there is not a paper backup to the voting system," she said.

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