Folded ballot problem can’t happen here, Vermont election official says
by Guy Page
LHS, the vote tabulator provider now under scrutiny for apparent irregularities in Windham, New Hampshire, also provides tabulators for Vermont elections.
According to New Hampshire Public Radio, folds in Windham, NH ballots may have been read by LHS voting machines as actual votes, thus accounting for significant discrepancies between the machine vote and the actual vote. “Something we strongly suspect at this juncture, based on various evidence, is that in some cases, fold lines are being interpreted by the scanner as valid votes,” Windham Auditor Mike Lindeman told NHPR.
Whatever the cause, retallying the votes showed marked tabulating discrepancies among Windham’s Diebold A2000 voting machines. In particular, the machine retabulations show that all of the Republican candidates for state representative were shorted on Election Night by about 300 votes, and one Democrat gained about 100 votes.
Windham NH has been conducting a hand count of the Nov. 3 general election tally registered by LHS voting machines. By Monday afternoon, about 1700 of 10,000 ballots had been counted, NHPR said.
Vermont uses LHS machines as well, according to a statement last year by the Vermont Secretary of State office. On Nov. 16, Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters told Vermont Daily, “Our machines are provided to us through our trusted long-time elections partner LHS.”
“What happened in Windham, NH could not happen in Vermont,” Winters told Vermont Daily today.
“Vermont has two very important distinctions in our processes and law which ensure that similar errors to those you describe do not occur in the counting of votes in Vermont using the Accuvote tabulators.
“First, in Vermont, all ballots for statewide elections are produced by the Secretary of State’s Office, which works closely with two experienced ballot printers to produce the ballots. We are aware of the possibility of the tabulators reading a fold line that goes through an oval as a vote for that candidate. As such, we proof and test the ballots before they are printed as a whole, ensuring that no folds lines go through any ovals creating the risk of a misread. In this way, we ensure ahead of time that this type of misread will not occur.
“Second, in Vermont, by law, our tabulators are set to reject a ballot containing an “overvote” (voting for more candidates than allowed in a particular race), and the election officials must provide the voter the opportunity to correct the overvote and re-cast the ballot. Upon examination, it would quickly be determined that the tabulator was reading a fold line as a vote, and the issue would be addressed before additional ballots were cast. NH does not use this overvote rejection feature.
“We have conducted post-election audits on the General Election results in at least five towns, for every General Election since 2008, including for the 2020 General Election. The results of these audits have never shown a significant discrepancy from the official results declared in any election. In addition, the many recounts across the state following almost every statewide primary and general election have consistently confirmed the accuracy of the tabulator counts on election night. These tabulators have a history of verifiable accuracy over more than a decade.
Vermont electoral irregularities due to ballot folding, if any, were likely magnified by the universal mailing process employed for the first time during the 2020 general election. In previous elections, ballots were only mailed upon voter request. Earlier this month the Legislature passed S15, which establishes universal mailed ballots for all primaries and general elections.
Vermont Daily was able to bounce a question off of Gov. Phil Scott, at today’s press conference:
“Governor, New Hampshire Public Radio says the Diebold vote tabulator machines in Windham NH operated by LHS appear to have misread folds in mailed ballots as actual votes, somehow taking about 300 Election Day votes from each of the four Republican state representative candidates and adding 100 for one of the Democrats. Given that Vermont too uses LHS and Diebold machines, and last year used universal mailed ballots for the first time, should our Secretary of State investigate whether Vermont had similar problems? And if it chooses not to, would you investigate through other avenues?”
“I had not heard that piece of news through NH..…we want to make sure the elections are secure,” Scott said. “I believe an audit was done. It came out 100%. Probably something you should ask him [Secretary of State] at this point,” Scott said.
About Vermont Daily Chronicle: every weekday, we publish 10 Vermont-related news and commentary articles. Subscriptions to Vermont Daily Chronicle are free. Subscribing takes less than one minute: click here to subscribe and receive the daily edition in your email. The Vermont Daily Chronicle is supported almost exclusively by Contributing Readers who appreciate our unique place in the Vermont news media and generously give $108/year (some give more, some less) via PayPal or by writing a check to Vermont Daily Chronicle, P.O. Box 1547, Montpelier Vermont, 05641.