Election audit checks Vt. voting machines - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Election audit checks Vt. voting machines

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

An army of volunteers was hard at work recounting votes in Montpelier Thursday.

"Elections are really the basis and core of our democracy; it's where it all starts. So, we want to make sure the integrity of our elections is good," said Jim Condos, D-Vt. Secretary of State.

Condos held a random audit for the November state treasurer and congressional races, testing the electronic vote tabulators that tally results across the state.

"There are situations where a machine cannot count a ballot because someone may have filled it out twice but crossed one out," Condos said.

Of Vermont's 251 cities and towns, 108 use the electronic machines on Election Day. The audit double-checked totals in a sampling of communities large and small, including Barre Town, Essex, Brandon and Newfane.

Among those checking for accuracy-- Condos' former high school math teacher Bob Chaffee.

"I've corrected quite a few tests of his. I haven't gone back to check my grade book to see what he did, but I remember he was a good student," Chaffee said.

The 39-year teacher worked in tandem with state Rep. Tim Jerman.

"I read the results and he writes them down and we double check them," said Rep. Tim Jerman, D-Essex Junction.

The team admits the electronic tabulators can occasionally cause problems if a ballot is crinkled or folded in half, but expect their recount to come within a percent or two of the reported results.

"Our machines work pretty well," Jerman said. "I have been in there a couple of times when they have been cranky, but normally they work very well in Essex and we get good results out of them."

Condos is reassuring folks that a paper trail is still part of the election process, communities using the machines must use a paper ballot, but he says the tabulators have been in use in Vermont for about 20 years without major issues.

"These machines have been in use since 1991 or 1992 and we have never had a problem that we know of," Condos said.

The secretary of state's office has been auditing electronically calculated election totals in Vermont since 2006.

The audit showed a difference between the Election Day results and Thursday's hand-counted totals was less than 1 percent. Condos says the findings support the scan machines as an accurate resource for counting ballots.

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