Virginia's Voting Glitches

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Post's coverage of the voting problems in the battle for a seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors ["Republican Wins Close Fairfax Race in Delayed Count," Metro, March 12; "Ballot Machine Malfunctions, Fairfax Race Left in Limbo," March 11] overlooked the "new math" provided by the voting machines.

At the Fairfax County canvass, observers learned that among other problems, when the polls opened, the voting machine showed that there were no votes recorded -- which was as it should be. However, of those "zero" votes, three were for Republican John Cook, two for Democratic Ilryong Moon, one for independent Carey C. Campbell and one for a write-in candidate. Put another way, the machine told us that 3 plus 2 plus 1 plus 1 equals zero. Despite the obvious problem that there were seven unexplained votes at the beginning of the day and a mismatch of hundreds of votes at the end of the day, the county Board of Elections certified the results.

Whether the results are correct or not is hard to say. But when there's such an obvious problem, the county should be investigating what went wrong, not just chalking up the discrepancy to a random failure.

This discrepancy is yet another reason that Virginia should be moving away from the unreliable electronic voting machines as rapidly as possible. If the state switched to optical-scan paper ballots and fixed its archaic audit and recount laws, voters could know that their votes were counted accurately.



The writer is co-founder of Virginia Verified Voting and the Verifiable Voting Coalition of Virginia.

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