E-voting machines, registration databases have a mixed Tuesday

Though no reports of substantial problems have emerged, the tech behind Tuesday's election didn't necessarily cover itself in glory.

OurVoteLive.org blogged that it had received over 75,000 calls since Tuesday, though causes varied and only a minority of calls received concerned e-voting trouble -- 1,730 since yesterday. The VoterAction hotline reported 16,000 calls, with as many as 3,000 in just one hour, again with a fraction of those reflecting machine problems.

Reports are still trickling in, and as observers know sometimes the real problems aren't immediately obvious, but so far there are no chad-level problems reported anywhere in the US. On the other hand, machines in two states -- Kentucky and Pennsylvania -- had problems so substantial that judges had to get involved. In Pennsylvania's Northumberland County, AccuVote machines from Premier Election Systems (nee Diebold) were impounded after voters reported problems voting a straight-party ticket. A similar AccuVote machine was impounded in Colorado in late October, for the same reason.


Reports from Kentucky indicate that 108 Hart InterCivic eSlate machines were shut down on orders from a Kenton County judge after they exhibited problems recording straight-ticket votes. That particular eSlate malfunction has been widely reported by BetaNews and other organizations. Ballots cast on the dicey machines will be evaluated for "voter intent" and registered, so none will be lost. Votes cast on other machines in use in Kenyon County were unaffected.

VoterAction reported a high volume of calls coming from hotly contested Virginia, and expressed particular concern that problems in Michigan with its ES&S machines might stem in part from a contract with the company that has kept the machines from being repaired or serviced for about three years.

Perhaps the most high-profile mishap of the day involved noted actor and activist Tim Robbins, who ran afoul not of the voting machines in use at his precinct, but of a voter-registration culling that went rather wrong. The actor, turned away from the NYC polling place he's been registered to for years, ended up on an hours-long Board of Elections odyssey that made the news in New York and beyond. Fellow NYC residents commenting on the story in The New York Times provided additional examples of database-related meltdowns around the city.

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