Election Update: Saguache County Clerk presents report to County Commissioners; computer and scanner errors blamed for discrepencies in ballot tallies

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2010 General Election Report
Going into 2010, Saguache County’s inventory of election equipment consisted of 6 Touch Screen voting machines and two Accuvote Ballot Scanner that were at least 16 years old and the programming cards are no longer being manufactured. One of the Accuvotes failed before the Primary and the election had to be scanned on the one machine. Saguache County also had $33,000 in HAVA funds the Secretary of State was holding to be used to purchase electronic voting equipment, which had to be spent by December 31, 2010 or they would revert back to the Federal Government. Many counties still had HAVA funds, but with election legislation changing every year, the election equipment manufacturing companies have struggled to develop hardware to meet these new criteria and get through the certification process, few counties were willing to choose hardware that may not meet regulations in a few years.
Faced with need to get new equipment before the General election, the Clerk’s office did extensive research on what was available and reliable that would best suit Saguache County. To that end, we purchased a M650 from ES&S. They were able deliver and set up the machine before the November election and provide training and tech support. This machine would need to have ballots that were designed especially for it and printed by ES&S.
Our paper ballots arrived and the Clerk’s office sent out the UOCAVA ballots by the Federal deadline. Then ES&S notified us that they has miscoded the ballots and made each ballot style its own precinct, which created 25 precincts instead of the actual 9. The only way to fix it would be to reprint the ballots, which was not possible due to the UOCAVA ballots already out. To fix this problem, ES&S agreed to lend us a laptop and a copy of their Unity, Elections Report Management software, which would enable us to create reports and group the ballot styles together to get the results by precinct.
ES&S sent a trainer on Oct. 12 and the four counting judges, two Canvass Board members, Christian Samora and Clerk Myers attended the morning training session. In the afternoon, the trainer went over the reporting software with Samora so he could run the reports during the counting. Each voting method would be counted separate and saved to its own zip disc, then loaded into the reports software to run the reports.
On election night, the early voting was counted, and then the mail ballots that had already been received were counted and saved to the disc. The polling place ballots were counted and saved. The mail ballot disc was reloaded and the remaining mail ballots were counted and saved. The totals were posted in the lobby and the counting ceased for the night with the promise that the total would be broken out by precinct the next day. On Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010, Samora ran reports by precincts and when he got to the mail in ballots, the totals were more than the number of ballots received back by the Clerk’s office; these reports were only viewed on the laptop screen and never printed. Samora worked all day by phone with both techs from ES&S and the Secretary of State’s office to track down the flaw in the data. They were unsuccessful in determining where the error occurred and how it could be resolved.
Thursday, Nov 4, 2010, Clerk Myers conferred with the SOS office and it was decided that a retabulation of the ballots counted on Nov 2 would be the best way to determine the actual vote count. The counting judges were called and parties, candidates and issue committees contacted and the date for the retabulation was set for Nov 5th. This tally was conducted by the 4 counting judges – 2 from each party in front of at least a dozen watchers. Everyone present agreed that the judges and the machine performed flawlessly.
Monday, Nov 8, 2010, Samora attempted to load the disc from the Nov 2, election night mail ballot count onto the laptop software to print the erroneous reports. It was unsuccessful and the mail ballot disc would not load and sent an error message. We are attempting to seek technical assistance to see if the file can be recovered.
Our position is due to the corrupt file on the election night scanning of the ballots, it was necessary to scan the same ballots to ensure the will of the voters of Saguache County. The 2010 General Election was conducted within established protocols and procedures and the Canvass audit will bear this out.
There is some community skepticism with the retabulation. In conference with the SOS, ES&S and County Attorney Gibbons, the election materials will be sealed up and on Nov 15th, the SOS will send representatives to review the entire election and report the findings.
Clerk Myers would like to recognize the efforts of our citizen judges and office staff for the excellent job they did in conducting the 2010 Saguache County General Election.

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