Friday, November 12, 2004

Recount changes one Franklin Co. race

Associated Press, November 12 2004

A computerized vote counting error in Franklin County, Indiana, provides a good example of the value of paper ballots. Had this counting error happened with an all-electronic voting system, the county would have had no independent audit trail to rely on once the vote-counting programming error was discovered.


A Democrat gained enough votes to bump a Republican from victory in a county commissioner's race after a recount prompted by a computer glitch in optical-scan voting.

The glitch in the Fidlar Election Co. vote-scanning system had recorded straight-Democratic Party votes for Libertarians.

When votes in southeastern Indiana's Franklin County were recounted by hand Thursday night, Democrat Carroll Lanning leaped from fifth to third in the three-seat commissioners race and Republican Roy Hall fell to fifth.

Fidlar confirmed the error on Wednesday, a day after Democrats raised questions about preliminary results that included a Libertarian candidate for Congress winning 7.7 percent of the vote in Franklin County. That was more than four times the percentage of votes he had won across the entire district.

No programming problems were found in Fidlar's optical scan Accuvote 2000 ES system, said Dana Pittman, an account manager for the Rock Island, Ill.-based company.

However, Fidlar also is verifying programming of its optical scan equipment in Wisconsin and Michigan, which, like Indiana, have straight-party voting, Vern Paddock of Fidlar technical support told the Palladium-Item of Richmond.


Franklin County Democratic Chairman Jim Sauerland had questioned the local results Tuesday after seeing information on the final tally he could not decipher, county Clerk Marlene Flashpohler said.

Preliminary tallies showed Libertarian Chad Roots had received 740 votes, or 7.7 percent, of the 9,609 votes cast in Franklin County for the 6th District congressional seat, which Republican incumbent Mike Pence won by a wide margin.

Roots received 1.8 percent of the vote districtwide.

Kate Shepherd, a spokeswoman for the Indiana secretary of state's office, said the state Election Division was aware of the vote-counting problem in Franklin County. She said tests with Fidlar's optical-scan equipment before the election found no problems.

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