Board of Canvassers Member Blows the Whistle on ‘Systemic’ Electronic Poll Book Errors in Detroit on Election Day


    by Shane Trejo, Big League Politics:

    Wayne County, Mich. board of canvassers member Kate Riley is blowing the whistle on “systemic” poll book errors that occurred in Detroit on election day during the midterm elections.

    Riley issued a statement describing “systemic” errors with the electronic poll books that resulted in 90 percent of Detroit precincts. When Riley attempted to talk with state election officials to remedy the error, she was stonewalled.

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    Her full letter can be seen here:

    Early on election day many Detroit precincts began receiving error codes related to the ballot assignment of the voter within the electronic poll books (EPB).  As the error messages popped up many of the election workers scrambled to figure out a solution.  Some wrote paper lists and used the paper pollbook to log people in. Others called the bureau of elections.  Others developed their own solutions.

    The notes in the pollbook reveal that the workers were stressed as they tried to deal with the electronic poll book errors and also work the polls which were particularly busy this year. The workers were under a lot of pressure — doing all they could to keep records as best as possible while either waiting for a technician or receiving instruction from the trouble shooting team.

    As we continued in our canvass of Detroit, it quickly became evident that the poll book error was not a sporadic error here or there, but systemic in nature. Of the 450 precincts in Detroit, 90% were effected — approximately 405 precincts. To put this in perspective, Oakland County, the second largest county in the state has just over 500 precincts total.

    When we come across a clerical error in the canvass, we work with the local clerk to find the source of the error. Then we work with the clerk to identify a means of correcting that error for future elections. There will always be places to improve, and the canvass helps identify these places.  However, when we contacted the State, who is responsible for the programming of the EPBs, I was met with obfuscation.  They could not tell me why these errors occurred and would also not take responsibility for them.  The State is in charge of the programming of the electronic poll books for the entire state and an error this large in size must be addressed.

    We have worked very hard over these last two weeks to reconcile as much as we possibly could in Detroit’s precincts. However, this was not easy.  This unnecessary and irresponsible error created much chaos for us on the canvass as well as on hundreds of election workers.

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