Statewide voting machine malfunction creates recounts across Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has learned that several counties saw an error with a voting machine on Election Day, according to an email from our KCRG investigative team -TV9 i9 received.

The error, which affected less than 1% of ballots in Sioux County, created the recommendation for a recount in several counties at a time of heightened concern for election security.

According to an email from the Secretary of State’s legal counsel, a paper jam created a discrepancy between the number of ballots displayed in an election machine and the number of people who voted as a percentage.

“The Office of the Iowa Secretary of State has learned that some counties are experiencing paper jams when voters insert their ballot into the tabulator,” she wrote. “In some cases, this increases the number of ‘cast ballots’ on the tab by one additional vote, making it appear as if more ballots were cast than voters who signed a statement. of eligibility.”

Widen also wrote that the secretary of state’s office will host an online meeting to discuss an administrative recount, which occurs when voting equipment used in an election has malfunctioned or programming errors may occur. affect the outcome of the election under Iowa law.

Election officials spoke about the issue on a Slack-like bulletin board website called Basecamp. An email our i9 survey team received shows that a member of the site created a survey, which asked if a county had an issue and planned to have an administrative recount.

Ryan Dokter (R), who is Sioux County’s auditor, said in a news release that he is seeking an administrative recount after fewer than 10 of Sioux County’s 4,740 ballots were affected by the ‘mistake. He said in the statement that his office was working with the secretary of state’s office and the machine vendor to resolve the issue.

The machine supplier for the county is a Missouri-based company called Henry M. Adkins & Son Inc. to fix the problem. The company sells several Unisyn ballot readers and scanners, which are used in 69 counties according to the company’s website.

Our i9 team does not know how many counties are experiencing the issue. Our i9 team has contacted the Secretary of State’s office since Friday and has had no response by post.

Dustin Vanderburg, vice president of Henry M. Adkins & Son Inc, said Unisyn is working to find the root cause of the error and apologized to several county auditors in an email our KCRG-TV9 i9 investigation team got. He said the company was working on a plan for midterm elections in November.

“We are working closely with Unisyn during this process so that a plan is in place to prevent this issue from happening again in November,” Vanderburg wrote. “As details become known, we will keep everyone updated on the plan for November.”

In an email, he said the current theory is that the error occurred specifically on older machines and denied using the malfunction as a way to pressure counties into buying new ones. equipment.

“We fully intend to remedy this situation and continue to service your current voting equipment for the foreseeable future,” Vanderburg said. “We appreciate each of you and will never jeopardize our relationship in this way.”

Kevin Dragotto (D), who is the Auditor for Dubuque County Auditor, said 19 ballots were affected by the issue in his county where he uses the Unisyn OVO. He said he planned to use the same machines for the midterm elections with an older software version than that used in the primary.

“I don’t know if you’re an IT guy at all,” Dragotto said. But, if you have any problem with a new version. Step 1 is to roll back to the previous version when you know you haven’t had any issues.

He said the issue would not affect any races in his county or statewide. Either way, Dragotto spends a few hundred dollars doing an administrative recount to make sure these results are 100% correct. He said he hoped it would show people that Iowa’s election is resilient even if the equipment isn’t working.

“We keep testing and showing that things are going to happen, bumps in the road are going to happen, but we have systems in place,” Dragotto said. “And the Secretary of State has been fantastic, you know, walking us through this process so far.”

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