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Voting machines go bad in one Pennsylvania county

Voting machines in Northampton County, Pennsylvania went offline after several Ballot Marking Devices flipped judicial retention votes.

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Voting machines go bad in one Pennsylvania county

At least one county in Pennsylvania saw voting machines “flipping” votes in a judicial retention race. Northampton County, Pennsylvania saw voting machines taken off-line in many townships. Officers of Election gave inconsistent advice, and some precincts ran out of emergency ballots.

Voting machines go bad – again

Four different reporters at The Gateway Pundit covered the story of the voting machines in Northampton, County, Pennsylvania. The trouble, according to Anthony Scott, began early Tuesday morning. Officers of Election took voting machines off-line in:

  • Palmer Township,
  • Bethany Wesleyan Church in Lehigh Township,
  • College Hill Presbyterian Church in Easton, and
  • At the Allen Township Fire Hall.

At issue: voters voting in a judicial retention race noticed the machines flipping their votes between Judges Jack Panella (Democrat) and Victor Stabile (Republican). Voters who voted yet on one and no on the other, saw the machine flip their votes. Oddly enough, it didn’t matter which judge got the yes and which the no. It affected both candidates equally – except to the extent that people originally meant to retain one judge in preference to the other. No information is available to answer that question.

By 5:20 p.m. EST, Christine Laila quoted authorities as blaming a “coding error” for the repeated mistakes. This was the position of the Associated Press and the Northampton County Elections Office.

Then at 6:00 p.m. EST, Jim Hoft reported that Officers of Election were telling voters “not to worry.” Voters were catching the flips in real time, and OOEs were telling voters the votes would be counted as they entered them. But Britteny Waylen, Deputy Director of Administration and Public Information Officer for the county, instructed precinct chiefs not to use the voting machines, but to use emergency ballots instead.


The latest: confusion and mistrust

This morning, Brian Lupo had yet another report. According to it:

The issue mainly concerned the ballot marking device – ExpressVoteXL by Election Systems and Software. Ballot Marking Devices produce smooth, machine-readable ballots after a voter uses a touch screen to indicate his or her preferences. The problem – now accoring to ES&S – is that their employees, in programming the ExpressVoteXL BMDs, reversed the names on the database, so that the signals from the screen for Yes or No on Judges Panella and Stabile would retrieve the opposite candidate’s names.

In response, three different judges gave three different pieces of advice. Officials never could resolve the problems with the BMDs. Some officials said not to use the machines; others said to use them. And precincts that went to emergency ballots, kept running out of them. Worse, they didn’t even have the security envelopes appropriate for emergency or provisional ballots.

This is the second election within four years in which Northampton County, Pennsylvania has had issues with its electronic equipment.

Northampton County sits on the “notch” where the Delaware River, between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, runs to its westernmost extent. Monroe, Carbon, Lehigh, and Bucks Counties in Pennsylvania border it from north to south. Warren County, New Jersey lies across the Delaware River from it.


Further perspective

Election Systems and Software is a popular purveyor of voting machines, and could take over from Dominion Voting Services as industry leader. Unlike Dominion, ES&S has never had anyone accuse it of systematically flipping votes across precincts, or of “hackability.”

Not all jurisdictions require the use of Ballot Marking Devices by all voters. In at least two governing “units” in Virginia, BMDs are optionally available to some voters. Most voters mark paper ballots directly and feed those into a scanner-tabulator. The scanner-tabulator can receive either a voter-marked ballot or a ballot from the BMD. Only voters having trouble seeing or keeping a steady hand to mark a ballot, need use a BMD.

Your correspondent has been an Officer of Election in Henrico County in 2016 and in Hanover County since 2021. Never once has he seen a voter using a BMD; voters prefer to mark their own ballots on paper. The only possible problem might be: scanner-tabulators do not normally ask voters to confirm their preferences. If a voter has marked his ballot correctly (i.e., not voted for more than the allowed number of candidates, and not made stray marks), the scanner dumps the ballot into a locked cabinet and tells the voter he has successfully voted. But if the voter has marked his ballot incorrectly, the scanner returns the ballot. Usually the Precinct Chief will then “spoil” the ballot and issue the voter a new one.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.


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