According to wired.com, voting machines in four Oakland County communities have failed pre-election tests to ensure accuracy:
"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, the top election official in Oakland County revealed in a letter made public Monday.
The problems occurred during logic and accuracy tests in the run-up to this year's general election, Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson disclosed in a letter submitted October 24 (.pdf) to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The machines at issue are ES&S M-100 optical-scan machines, which read and tally election results from paper ballots.
Johnson worried that such problems -- linked tentatively to paper dust build-up in the machines -- could affect the integrity of the general election this week.
"The same ballots, run through the same machines, yielded different results each time," she wrote, adding "This begs the question -- on Election Day, will the record number of ballots going through the remaining tabulators leave even more build-up on the sensors, affecting machines that tested just fine initially? Could this additional build-up on voting tabulators that have not had any preventative maintenance skew vote totals? My understanding is that the problem could occur and election workers would have no inkling that ballots are being misread."
Tuesday's election is expected to be the busiest ever, and ES&S tabulators -- both touchscreen machines and optical-scan machines -- were responsible for counting 50 percent of the votes in the last four major U.S. elections, according to the company. Some 30,000 of the company's optical-scan machines are now deployed in 43 states and around the world...
Johnson closed her letter by urging the Commission to investigate whether vote totals could be affected by the failure to perform regular cleaning and preventative maintenance on the machines. She requested a "federal directive or law" that would allow county clerks to conduct random audits to test machine accuracy using machines that have had preventative maintenance performed in the last year. She also urged officials to develop a plan for accurately canvassing election results.
"I believe this matter, which is not a partisan issue, but an issue of integrity, needs your immediate attention and I would urge you to investigate as so much is at stake," she wrote...
The Election Assistance Commission, which quietly posted the letter to its web site today, did not send an announcement about the issue to election officials but simply included a link to the letter in a routine newsletter that it distributed by e-mail to election officials shortly before 5 pm Eastern time, less than 24 hours before voters around the country arrive to the polls.
EAC spokeswoman Jeanne Layson said the Commission received Johnson's letter late in the afternoon on Wednesday after EAC chairwoman Rosemary Rodriguez, to whom the letter was addressed, had left to conduct an interview with ABC's 20/20 program. She said Rodriguez was out of the office Thursday and Friday and only saw the letter today when she returned.
John Gideon, co-executive director of Voters Unite, an election integrity group, said he was troubled by the Commission's lack of urgency over the matter...
The Election Assistance Commission was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to serve as a clearinghouse of election administration information and to oversee the federal testing and certification of voting machines, but it has yet to certify any voting system under its testing program, which was launched in early 2007.
The Commission has often been criticized by voting activists for failing to monitor problems with voting machines and share crucial information that election officials need to have."