INACCURATE election records are found with some regularity, and can produce the wrong winner in elections. Even when an inaccuracy is not large enough to change a result, it may violate voting rights by preventing a qualified voter from casting a ballot, or by obstructing verification of whether results are true. Inaccurate information can be caused by either error or fraud, but regardless of the reason, faulty accounting corrupts the election process.
Even if incorrect information seems not to change a result, its underlying cause needs to be investigated, addressed transparently, and (if possible) corrected. Inaccurate data in one portion of the election may carry over to other records as well, and should trigger an expanded examination. When inaccuracies are corrected, a log or other documentation should accompany the correction and the issue should be disclosed.
Sometimes inaccurate records cannot be corrected because information has been lost, destroyed, compromised, or chain of custody is no longer intact, or because the discrepancy blocked eligible voters from voting and the election period has ended. In such cases, “incurable uncertainty” can result, which occasionally results in an election having to be rerun.
Voter lists contain misspelled names, wrong addresses, inclusion of persons who are no longer eligible to vote in the location indicated, and omissions of eligible voters. Voter history reports, showing whether people on the voter list have voted, may say they did vote when they didn’t, or didn’t when they did, or that they voted a Republican ballot in a primary election though they voted Democrat. Electronic pollbook data doesn’t always match reports for who voted. Ballots sometimes omit candidate names or races. Vote tallies are sometimes incorrect, assigning votes to the wrong candidate, failing to tally some sets of votes, and even adding phantom votes to the tally.
While incorrect information is relatively easy to locate in voter lists, it can be almost impossible to detect incorrect computer reports or programming. If candidates and the public are forced to accept election data at face value without any way to verify that records are accurate, the system is unaccountable to its stakeholders.
ITEMS RELATED TO INACCURATE ELECTION RECORDS:
2016-12-01 – News Briefs – Increasing Wisconsin recount red flags; scattered reports that the certified Pennsylvania results dropped about 23,000 off of the unofficial Trump margin
2016-11-24 – About Recounts – Provides examples of various types of inaccurate records which can cause results to change in a recount, as well as some inaccuracies that can’t be resolved through recount.
2016/02/01 – Caucus Integrity 2016 – Describes a litany of specifics for inaccurate records provided in the 2012 Republican caucuses in many locations in Iowa, two Maine counties and Clark County Nevada
2013-06-24 (WY) Reporter arrested for voting as felon after reporting voting machine inaccuracies – Voting machines were reading the wrong bar code on the ballot and also some machines were “misreading parts of the ballots” other than bar codes, including a school board race and other measures.
2008/01/07 – New Hampshire election credibility – Video demonstrates that an observed vote count can differ completely from the unobservable count reported by computer software.
2006-11-08 (WY) – Ballot problems: Folded ballots and voting machines – voting machines having trouble reading folded absentee ballots; may cause an incorrect count
2006/11/04 – Texas: Williamson County: ES&S voting machines miscount – Williamson County paperless touch-screens, used for all early voting, produced inaccurate totals for straight-party votes two times in a row.