Political Animals

Voting Machine That Changed Obama Vote to Romney Vote in Viral Video Taken Out of Service

What do you think Alexis Ohanian is gonna do to celebrate?
screen shot 2012 11 06 at 2 10 04 pm Voting Machine That Changed Obama Vote to Romney Vote in Viral Video Taken Out of Service

(Screenshot: YouTube)

A video taken of a touchscreen voting machine in Pennsylvania refusing to capture an Obama vote, and instead casting the vote for Romney, was uploaded to Reddit this morning. The video garnered almost 37,000 upvotes and served up a painful 18 second flashback to post-2004 fear of “stolen votes.” After hitting Reddit, the video immediately went viral, ricocheting across news websites and Twitter feeds.

The anonymous user who uploaded the video and goes by the handle centralpavote wrote in the video’s YouTube description:

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

Gawker spoke to a voter fraud expert who confirmed that the machine is not purposefully or maliciously attempting to keep people from voting for Obama, but instead that it’s a mechanical error and simply needs to be re-calibrated. “It’s a concern but not because of fraud,” the expert said. “That’s an obviously miscalibrated iVotronic (ES&S) voting machine… we would recommend that poll workers would recalibrate the machine and everything would be fine.”

Now, NBC News reports that the machine in question has been taken out of commission in Pennsylvania. (The anonymous user’s Reddit name, centralpavote, indicates that the machine was located in central Pennsylvania.) Score one for outraged internet commenters.

Update:

Mother Jones reports that a representative for the Pennsylvania Department of State has stated that a machine in Perry County, Pennsylvania was removed, re-calibrated and brought back online, but he couldn’t confirm that it was the same machine from the YouTube video.

“There was a single complaint, so they recalibrated the machine, did a test run, and put it back online. We’ve had no complaints since then,” the rep told Mother Jones.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

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