Are folded ballots a problem for AccuVote machines?

Editor’s note: The town of Windham, New Hampshire, is presently conducting an audit of its Nov. 3, 2020 election, in which a hand recount one week later revealed that four Republican candidates each gained about 300 votes not counted on Election Night. Vermont uses the same Diebold AccuVote-OS vote tabulators owned by Dominion and managed by LHS Associates, of Salem, N.H. The following article by Alvin see has been republished with permission from GraniteGrok.

By Alvin See

It may be that the AccuVote machines can sometimes mistake a fold in a ballot as a bonafide vote for the candidate whose name, and the associated oval, happens to be on a fold on that ballot.

For those voters using an absentee ballot, the ballot is folded to put in an envelope for mailing. One of the things that the Windham Audit is taking note of is ballots that had been folded on or near a candidate’s name. This may be the reason for the original vote discrepancy.

If there were about 400 misreads on the machines, consisting of about 300 overvotes killing as many valid votes for mostly Republicans, and about 100 invalid votes added to St. Laurent, the Windham discrepancy can be explained.

For an office with a single winner, such as for governor, the candidate names are on the same line. If there is a fold on that line, and the machine reads your vote and one or more other ovals as a vote, then the machine is programmed to identify an overvote and record that as a blank vote. If this happens, your vote for that office didn’t count.

For the state representative race, many cities or towns have more than one representative, with Windham having four. For these ballots, the representative candidate names are staggered on different lines, supposedly to make the ballot less confusing to the voters.

In this case for Windham, a candidate whose name and the oval happen to be where the ballot is likely to be folded can get an unfair advantage in two ways.

First, if the voter votes for any combination of four other candidates and if the machine counts the fold as a vote, then an overvote results, and the four valid votes are not counted.

Second, if the voter votes for less than four candidates (undervote) and the machine counts a fold as a vote, then the name on the fold gets credited with a vote that is not valid. In both cases, the candidate whose name is on the fold gets an unfair advantage in the vote count.

On the Windham ballot, the line for all governor candidates was near where ballots may have been folded. The other likely fold location was near St. Laurent’s name. If there were about 400 misreads on the machines, consisting of about 300 overvotes killing as many valid votes for mostly Republicans, and about 100 invalid votes added to St. Laurent, the Windham discrepancy can be explained.

For those ballots with a vote for St. Laurent and with or without votes for any other candidates, the fold issue would likely not be there.

In Derry for the November 2020 election, they used eight AccuVote machines. One machine was used exclusively for absentee ballots. This machine registered over 750 overvotes (for all offices together) with less than 100 overvotes total on all the other seven machines. This implies a major problem with these

AccuVote machines and folded ballots. Derry had asked the AG’s office to investigate but they did not.

When the information of the Derry overvotes was provided to one of the auditors of the Windham Audit, he arranged to have an inquiry sent to the election officials in all of the state’s cities and towns asking about any discrepancies where more than one AccuVote machine was in use last November. This is to give them some more background information.

It should be considered that these machines may not be equally sensitive across the width of the ballot. This could mean that the potential for a misread may only happen if the ballot is inserted into the machine in a certain orientation, such as front side up and bottom first into the machine. Also, remember that each machine may not be equally calibrated or sensitive in this regard.

Some Legislative suggestions to do as a follow-up:

  • Require the hand-counting of all folded ballots. This makes for a long night of ballot counting for large population towns. Some towns are larger than individual city wards so this may affect towns slightly more than cities.
  • Keep ballots flat, use large envelopes for mailing. The cost of envelopes and postage go way up.
  • Design ballots to not have candidate names (& ovals) within 1/2 inch of a fold location. This reduces the space on the ballot for all the various offices and the associated candidates.
  • Require machines be programmed to report the number of overvotes (along with the blanks) for each race on the ballot. This gives the candidates a better idea of whether to file for an official recount. This can also show the public how big the machine error problem may be. This ought to be done even if nothing else gets done.
  • Provide for a way for citizens to petition for recounts even if the candidates don’t ask.
  • For official recounts, require that at least two other offices be audited on the ballots involved in the recount.
  • Ban ballot-counting machines. This will make for a really long night of ballot counting.

Some other things to do:

  • Warrant articles in the various towns/cities to discontinue the use of the AccuVote machines and hand-count ballots within individual towns or cities. You can ask your Selectmen to do it or do a petitioned warrant article.
  • Get more candidates to request a recount, even on some long-shots.
  • Get more people to watch and observe the election process. Publish pictures and videos of local results. Get photos of the sealed boxes of ballots.
  • Push back against any election official that tries to stonewall the public. Get names and details and publish.

When the Windham Audit results are in, we should have a clearer picture of the ballot counting problem in New Hampshire. None of the above addresses any potential issues with the programming. Having more recounts and audits could help expose programming issues.

8 thoughts on “Are folded ballots a problem for AccuVote machines?

  1. Again – hats off and round of applause to Granite Grok team and contributing writers plus TNR bring it to VT.

  2. All of you are so right with your comments.
    When I went to vote I refused to do the mail-in ballot. While there I witness the people at the machines having to put the ballots in 4-6 times per ballot. as they wouldn’t go in. I also witness the people in charge have to keep trying to put the ballot in the machine by scraping a credit card over the crease on the ballot. the ones in charge were saying the machine won’t take the ballot because of the crease. My biggest problem was that they said you have to use a pencil to make the squares, BS, I used a pen. a pencil is too easy to change the vote.

    I wrote to Condo about my husband getting a mail-in ballot. and I know he didn’t request it as he’s been dead for 16 yrs. No response from Condo so I called his office!! Here it is end of May and still no response.

    Do I believe there’s corruption in Vermont Government? You darn tooten I do. has been for yrs.. More so since 98% of the legislation is democrats. and are from out-of-state.

    As for our RINO Gov. he only gets reelected by the democrats because they can control him. It’s something that he calls the murderer gov Cuomo for advice. Are you serious, the man who put people with covid in nursing homes with the elderly and the elderly were dying right and left.

    Scott only cares about his popularity than the Vermonters. Condos and the Democratic legislators do not have the right to tell me how to cast my vote. I will go to a polling place and cast my vote.

    Vermont is not the state that I grew up in, now it’s a hole. an overpriced one. TAKE BACK VERMONT!!!

  3. If this is true, it was made to happen on purpose (MIHOP). If they weren’t designed to fail this way, they would have been tested thoroughly, and designed not to make such obvious “errors”.
    Diebold was there for the screwed-up 2000 election too.
    Live Free or Diebold!

  4. Our state is so corrupt and our press so complicit…..

    Will you see this major story in VT Digger? Seven Days?

    Will you have ANY officials asking to have our machines investigated, they are supplied by the same person!

    What about our Governor?
    What about our Lt.Governor?
    What about our Secretary of State?

    Will ANY of the above ask for a similar investigation?

    What will THE VT GOP request?

    If nothing happens, or if none of the above want to get involved in investigations, guess what? They are criminals and co-conspirators of the crimes.

    By their fruit you shall know them.

    Vermont is more corrupt than Washington D.C…. please, please, please, prove me wrong.

    • Vt digger is all about George Floyd today……nothing about voting in Nh…surprise, surprise…

  5. Folding the ballots creates ADDITIONAL difficulty for the machines to count accurately!!

    However, a batch of ballots was run through eight different counting machines, and each time the count was different!!
    That is a machine problem.

    Then the same batch of ballots was run 8 times through ONE counting machine and each time the count was different!!
    That is a machine problem.

    Solution: Get rid of the machines.
    The counting may take longer, but it will be much more accurate.

  6. Accu Vote is the problem, that and corrupt politicians and those who have not spine to stick up for what is right.

    Folding the ballot is NOT the problem.

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