[Image via beyondbookmarks]
2:45 Eastern (Thursday) This post has been updated with a clarification regarding the function of poll books used in Clark County.
Nevada’s Clark County (Las Vegas) is scrambling after discovering that 43 voters cast duplicate ballots in its recent primary election – and planning a new election in one close race that may have been affected by the problem. The Review-Journal has more:
Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Wednesday that a combination of human error and technical problems allowed up to 43 voters to cast ballots twice in the primary election.
During a County Commission meeting to certify election results, Gloria said he is unsure why some voters believed their first attempt to vote was unsuccessful. But he explained that volunteer poll workers during early voting and on Election Day did not confirm whether those voters’ ballots had been properly submitted before they were allowed to re-vote.
“Had that been done, we probably would have avoided this whole situation,” he said, adding that it is his department’s responsibility to properly train poll workers.
County spokesman Dan Kulin said the election department has also determined that six of the double-votes occurred when people voted during early voting and again on Election Day. That included two Democrats, two Republicans and two nonpartisan voters.
“We believe this occurred because some of the computers used to assist with sign-ins were temporarily off-line when those six people voted on Election Day,” Kulin wrote in an email. “We are able to identify those instances because the computers record sign-in information whether they are on-line or not.
“If they had been online when one of those voters came to a polling place on Election Day, the system would have identified them as already having voted.”
The errors mean one close race will have to be re-run – and the winner isn’t happy:
The errors mean that the county will hold a special election to select the Republican nominee for county administrator, which was decided by only four votes. The race’s unofficial winner, Aaron Manfredi, has criticized the county for failing to train poll workers…
Commissioners on Wednesday directed county staff to begin preparing the redo election.
Gloria told commissioners that any Republican who voted in the primary, some 74,000 people countywide, would receive a mail-in ballot by July 3.
Manfredi said having a new election would be an unfair burden for he and opponent Thomas Fougere to spend more campaign money to spur voter turnout.
“What is the county and election department going to do to make sure everyone knows to re-vote?” Manfredi asked. “We shouldn’t have to go out there and spend thousands and thousands of dollars for something that wasn’t our fault.”
The cause of the problem appears to be a combination of technology and training, though some poll workers are pointing fingers at the County’s new equipment:
Two poll workers who contacted the Review-Journal believe more scrutiny should be given to the county’s new election software and hardware.
The electronic poll book technology is supposed to record data, such as when and where a ballot is cast, in real time. [NOTE: A representative of the company that manufactures the pollbooks wrote to clarify that their product doesn’t capture when a ballot is cast but rather is designed to “propagate a record of a voter’s passing through the check-in process.” – DMCj] The laptops used to check in voters at polling places should display a warning if a person tries to vote a second time, according to a laptop operator manual from the county election department.
“ALREADY VOTED — CALL TEAM LEADER,” a display screen should read.
The poll workers who contacted the Review-Journal said that was not the case in at least two instances at separate polling locations on Election Day. They asked not to be named for fear of retribution, but they provided the Review-Journal documentation showing they were poll workers.
One worker said that a man who voted at Lyal Burkholder Middle School in Henderson on Election Day returned to the site after realizing he had cast a ballot during early voting.
“My machine didn’t show any warning, because I wouldn’t have processed him if it did,” the poll worker said. “I know I processed that voter correctly.”
The second poll worker, who was stationed at Escobedo Middle School in Las Vegas, said she voted by mail the week before election day. However, when she looked up her own name on a laptop at an Election Day polling site, it did not show that she had already voted.
The volunteer said she used the county’s website to confirm her ballot had been received before Election Day, meaning that it could have been processed before June 12.
“If they received my ballot on a Monday, why wasn’t it immediately processed?” she asked.
Nevada Secretary of State’s office spokeswoman Jennifer Russell said the state will not conduct any further examination of the matter…
“The (Secretary of State) is working with Clark County on developing tighter access controls so that re-issuance of activation cards can only be done by supervisory/lead staff at polling place and are looking at various software solutions to assist in that regard,” Russell wrote in an email.
Needless to say, any problem with an election is difficult for an election office – and problems that require a new election are all the more painful. I’ll be curious to see if this was just a one-off bad day for people and technology or something more; either way, here’s hoping the new election goes more smoothly for everyone involved. Stay tuned…