Vermont election review finds few discrepancies, low number of ‘walk-in’ voters

AUDIT: An audit of tabulator machines used in the Nov. 4 election found no major discrepancies, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont’s midterm election ran according to plan. An audit conducted by the Secretary of State’s Office showed no major discrepancies, and officials in Burlington and Montpelier reported few “walk-in” voters.

A high-tech audit of votes cast in East Montpelier, Fayston, Manchester, Saint Johnsbury, Westminster and Wolcott found that machines used in the general election counted accurately with no malfunctions, Secretary of State Jim Condos said Friday.

“I am pleased to report the successful completion of the 2014 election audit. The audit is a crucial part of the elections process and shows us that the checks and balances that we have in place are working as they should be,” Condos said in a statement Friday.

As part of routine evaluations first launched in 2006, election officials met Thursday at City Hall in Montpelier to recount votes from randomly selected towns. The goal of the audit was to make sure official vote tallies gathered from machines after the Nov. 4 election matched those counted a second time weeks later.

According to audit results posted at the secretary of state’s website, retabulated vote counts across all races matched official tallies reported after the election, with only minor variations.

Of the total number of discrepancies reported in the audit — typically less than five for individual races — most came from write-in votes, which voters wrote on ballots by hand.

Unlike audits of past elections, Thursday’s audit employed scanning technology from Clear Ballot Group. The technology replaced the old hand-counting method.

Benefits of the new scanning technology include the ability to audit all races, the ability to keep scanned images of ballots digitally on file, and the ability to audit a larger number of votes and machines in a short amount of time.

“This is the first time we have used new scanning technology to conduct the audit. We chose to pilot the technology this election because it is more accurate than a hand audit,” Condos said.

Condos added that audits are necessary because the duty of citizenship is so important.

“Ensuring the election process is both honest and accurate is as important as voting itself,” he said.

In a separate review by Watchdog.org, data gathered from the clerk and treasurer’s offices in Burlington and Montpelier revealed the number of ballots cast by “walk-in” voters — voters whose names are not on the statewide checklist — was down considerably relative to the 2012 presidential election.

In Burlington, 33 individuals not on the statewide checklist cast ballots on Nov. 4, after filling out a voter affirmation form. About half of the walk-ins came from a single ward, Ward Five.

In the 2012 presidential election, about 639, or 3.7 percent, of 17,383 votes cast in Burlington were from individuals not known to be registered voters. Critics say such voting constitutes de-facto same-day registration, which is illegal in Vermont.

The total of 9,783 ballots were cast in Burlington on Election Day.

According to officials in Montpelier, 32 people not known to be registered with the state cast ballots after filling out a voter affirmation form. That number was about one-third of the 98 walk-in voters who cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

Contact Bruce Parker a bparker@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

Top