Michigan, ES&S, and the Voting Machines that Couldn’t Count


Why are States Buying and Using Machines that Don’t Pass Testing? It is infuriating. All along there have been problems with electronic voting machines. Again and again election officials and observers have spoken up, only to be ignored. A clear example of this is what happened in Michigan.

Oakland County, Michigan Voting Machines

In 2008 an election official in Oakland County Michigan noticed something alarming.with ES&S optical scan machines. Here is the story from Kim Zetter of Wired.

Optical-scan machines made by Election Systems & Software failed recent pre-election tests in a Michigan county, producing different tallies for the same ballots every time.


Different tallies for the same ballots every time! Not reproducible errors but different tallies each time. This is an important differentiation. Different errors and you have a significant issue.

Here is the letter from the Oakland County Clerk to the EAC requesting urgent assistance with this matter.

Eight percent of communities reported inconsistent vote totals during their logic and accuracy testing. The same ballots, run through the same machines, yielded different results each time.

“Conflicting vote totals have reportedly surfaced in other areas of Michigan.”

“On Election day, will the record number of ballots going through the tabulators leave even more build-up on the sensors, affecting machines that tested just fine initially? Could this skew vote totals?”

The problem could occur and election workers would have no inkling that ballots are being misread.

Local clerks are prohibited from performing any maintenance/cleaning on the machines as it voids the warranties.

ES&S has not performed preventative maintenance since the machines were delivered three years ago.

One Plus One

Twenty years with these electronic machines, and all we are talking about is counting. Every other industry in the world has mastered the complexities of adding one plus one.

How long would Banks use ATM’S that handed out the wrong amount of money?

This is crazy.

These states are using overly complex machines. In many cases machines that the poll workers have no idea how to handle when things go wrong. Machines that prohibit the States from looking into them because of agreements the States sign — against their best interest.

Billions of dollars spent. Long term contracts. Machines that are not examinable. Companies that don’t care. And then we wind up where we are: magic boxes. doing magic things. All the time preventing us from knowing what is happening.

This is our election infrastructure. But don’t say anything. Everything is fine.

Read @mikefarb1‘s thread about this on Twitter, here.

Written by Unhackthevote

Read More Commentary about US Election Systems:

How to Control an Election by Hacking a Voter Registration Database

Democracy Dies in the Dark

Wisconsin Recount Summary — How to Know You’re Being Screwed

Our Election System — The Shell Game

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Author: Unhackthevote