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Alleged voting incidents by state

Voting errors tallied nationwide

Page 2 of 4 -- ''I would hesitate to take seriously the conspiracy theories, but there are certainly gaps and vulnerabilities that have got to be addressed," said DeForest B. Soaries, chairman of the US Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the 2002 law and plans to conduct hearings around the country on the voting.

''We are convinced that while the election went relatively smoothly compared to what many had expected, that does not eliminate the need to study the results and collect data to document machine malfunctions and other administrative matters," Soaries said.

Since 2000, watchdog groups have intensified their monitoring and cataloging of complaints and errors. The nonpartisan Verified Voting Foundation and other groups built a database of more than 30,000 ''election incidents" reported across the country this year. Most were routine, but nearly 900 involved significant e-voting problems, including malfunctions that shut down machines, lengthening waits at the polls. There were 42 reports of total breakdowns of machines in New Orleans and 28 in Philadelphia and ''15 reports of catastrophic machine failure" in Mercer County, Pa.

The most serious problems occurred in North Carolina, where 4,438 e-votes disappeared in Carteret County. In at least five other counties, major double-counting or undercounting was discovered and corrected by North Carolina officials during their tabulations.

Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, attributed many mistakes to ''the human element, brought on by fatigue." In Carteret, for example, election workers apparently did not notice the ''Voter Log Full" message on the black box as the UniLect touch-screen failed to record the electronic votes, she said.

''If we had problems in the past, they were not magnified like this," McLean said, referring not only to the closeness of the statewide race, but also the extraordinary scrutiny of voting since 2000.

Examples of other major problems that were reported on and after Nov. 2, then later corrected, include:

Thousands of ballots were mistakenly double-counted in Sandusky County, Ohio; Sarpy County, Neb.; and Grays Harbor County, Wash. Democrats in Washington must decide by Friday whether to seek a second recount in the closest governor's race in state history. One recount has been held, reducing Republican Dino Rossi's 261-vote lead to 42 votes over Democrat Christine Gregoire.

In Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, Bush was temporarily credited with 3,893 more votes than he actually received in a precinct where only 638 voters cast ballots on a Danaher electronic voting machine.

In Franklin County, Ind., a tabulator credited about 600 straight-ticket Democratic votes to Libertarian Party candidates.

In Collin County, Texas, the memory card of a Diebold Election Systems touch-screen machine had to be sent to a laboratory in Canada a week after the election to extract information about 63 votes cast before the machine froze and was taken out of service.   Continued...

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