The mid-term election saw tremendous voter turnout, roughly 48 percent. With these high rates came some new problems. Namely, there were glitches in the electronic voting machines.
The AccuVote-TSx voting machines used by Butler County experienced multiple issues, resulting in a little more than 1,000 problem calls to the county Board of Elections (BOE) according to Tippy Slaughter, spokesperson for the BOE. Approximately 50 percent of these were calibration issues. The BOE will be looking into these issues at length as it completes the official tally, which is due Nov. 10.
According to Poll Worker Trainer David Hanger, only 10 percent of machines were affected by glitches. Hanger also doesn’t believe these errors affected votes.
“Between the poll workers and the voters, they made sure that the errors didn’t affect results,” Hanger said. “It just made things more difficult.”
Hanger recommends voters always double-check their ballot.
The BOE has experienced issues with the AccuVote-TSx machines before, but they were thought to be caused primarily by set up errors. Since then, the BOE has taken steps to eliminate problems by having technical rovers. These rovers are poll workers specializing in set up and repair of the machines, and they set up all of the machines for the county. This is the first election in which calibration errors appeared prevalent.
Calibration errors, which result from the software on the machine thinking the user selected an area other than the one they did, have the potential to change votes. However, there are also numerous safeguards. First, the voters have the ability to see the screen after they select a vote. Then, the voter is prompted to review the vote on three separate confirmation screens and a printout.
If any issue occurs, the voter can request assistance from the poll workers at the precinct, one from each party. If the poll workers are unable to resolve the issues, a technical rover can be called in to fix the machine. If the issue cannot be resolved to the voter’s satisfaction, the ballot can be cancelled and the voter can receive a paper ballot.
“There shouldn’t be glitches in these machines, period,” Miami University junior Shannon Powell said. “Anything that could make the ballot confusing or difficult to use should be fixed ahead of time. It shouldn’t be up to the voter to make sure their vote counts.”