The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 29, 2014

County’s election issues clarified

In report from company that makes iVotronics machine

FAIRMONT — Issues with electronic voting machines following May’s primary election have been made more clear in a report filed with the Marion County Commission.

Richard Lockhart, of Castro-Harris, the company that makes the iVotronics voting machine, filed the report with Marion County administrator Kris Cinalli earlier this month.

After two votes separated Democratic candidates in the Marion County Commission race, Rick Garcia requested a recount. During the recount it was found that votes were doubled in Precinct 2.

Lockhart was called in to figure out how votes were doubled in the precinct.

In his final report, Lockhart stated that “the totals for two candidates running for county commission doubled in Precinct 2, while a third candidate’s total doubled by one.” In the precinct, Garcia actually received 11 votes instead of the 22 that were recorded from the primary election, Butch Tennant got 18 rather than 36 and Dan Weber received seven votes rather than 15.

The other issue was how Weber’s votes doubled and added one.

In his report, Lockhart wrote that initially there were three voting machines sent to Precinct 2 and poll workers closed those three. He said sometime on the day of the election, a fourth voting machine was sent to the precinct once it had been “cleared and tested.”

The person who delivered the voting machine didn’t open it with the master personal electronic ballot (PEB). Lockhart reported that no one voted on the fourth voting machine so poll workers didn’t close it.

On the day of the election, results are tabulated by the PEBs from each precinct. During the canvass process, those results must match with the compact flash card results from the voting machines.

“Even though no votes were on the (voting machine) itself, there were two test ballots on the compact flash card from pre-testing in April,” Lockhart reported.

That compact flash card is not erased or overwritten until the next time it is closed. Since the fourth voting machine in Precinct 2 was not closed on the day of the election, the flash card still had those two test ballots.

Lockhart said to prevent this from happening again, those who deliver the voting machines must open them with the master PEB. All voting machines must be closed even if they weren’t used, he added.

As for the doubling of votes, Lockhart reported that it happened because both the PEBs and flash cards were recorded on the day of the election. He said that “of the two test ballots on that fourth iVotronic, only one contained a vote for the county commission race ... which went to Dan Weber.”

Lockhart said this can be prevented by using the correct procedure for tabulating precinct results and using master PEBs during elections and flash cards during the canvass process.

“After tabulating flash cards at canvass, compare results to those from Election Day before processing provisional and late absentees,” Lockhart said.

After poll workers noticed the doubling of votes during the requested recount, Garcia was no longer down two votes to Tennant — he was ahead by five votes. That meant Garcia became the Democratic nominee on the ballot for Marion County Commission in November.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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