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Glitch gave Bush extra votes in Ohio
Friday, November 5, 2004 Posted: 4:15 PM EST (2115 GMT)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said.
Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct.
Bush actually received 365 votes in the precinct, Matthew Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, told The Columbus Dispatch.
State and county election officials did not immediately respond to requests by The Associated Press for more details about the voting system and its vendor, and whether the error, if repeated elsewhere in Ohio, could have affected the outcome.
Bush won the state by more than 136,000 votes, according to unofficial results, and Kerry conceded the election on Wednesday after acknowledging that 155,000 provisional ballots yet to be counted in Ohio would not change the result. (Full Ohio results)
The Secretary of State's Office said Friday it could not revise Bush's total until the county reported the error.
The Ohio glitch is among a handful of computer troubles that have emerged since Tuesday's elections. (Touchscreen voting troubles reported)
In one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots electronically could hold more data than it did. And in San Francisco, a malfunction with custom voting software could delay efforts to declare the winners of four races for county supervisor.
In the Ohio precinct in question, the votes are recorded onto a cartridge. On one of the three machines at that precinct, a malfunction occurred in the recording process, Damschroder said. He could not explain how the malfunction occurred.
Damschroder said people who had seen poll results on the election board's Web site called to point out the discrepancy. The error would have been discovered when the official count for the election is performed later this month, he said.
The reader also recorded zero votes in a county commissioner race on the machine.
Workers checked the cartridge against memory banks in the voting machine and each showed that 115 people voted for Bush on that machine. With the other machines, the total for Bush in the precinct added up to 365 votes.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a glitch occurred with software designed for the city's new "ranked-choice voting," in which voters list their top three choices for municipal offices. If no candidate gets a majority of first-place votes outright, voters' second and third-place preferences are then distributed among candidates who weren't eliminated in the first round. (E-vote goes smoothly, but experts skeptical)
When the San Francisco Department of Elections tried a test run on Wednesday of the program that does the redistribution, some of the votes didn't get counted and skewed the results, director John Arntz said.
"All the information is there," Arntz said. "It's just not arriving the way it was supposed to."
A technician from the Omaha, Neb. company that designed the software, Election Systems & Software Inc., was working to diagnose and fix the problem.
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