WPCNR Afternoon Trib & Post. By John F. Bailey. September 24, 2002: An election machine inspector Tuesday told WPCNR that differences between the number of registered voters signing in to vote at a polling place and the total amount of votes recorded on an election machine are normal occurrences every election.
PROTECTIVE COUNTERS, an example of which is shown here are (located at the top of one of the White Plains voting machines used September 5) at the heart of Naomi Matusow’s protest that more votes are recorded on Assembly District 89 machines than there were registered voters. An Election Inspector calls this normal.
Photo by WPCNR
The issue is alive because Naomi Matusow in a television appearance yesterday, said, “The machine count has more votes on the machines than can be accounted for by the poll rosters.” Because of this discrepancy, Ms. Matusow, who trails her primary challenger, Adam Bradley by 23 votes, is calling for a new primary.
Mr. Bradley, in his television appearance, said “The charges were without merit.”
An election inspector who determined that the voting machine in dispute in the Larry Delgado-Glen Hockley election case last year in White Plains was jammed, explained how such differences may occur:
He said there are two counters on each machine. The top counter is called the “Protective Counter,” which is never set back to zero, and contains the number of votes recorded on the election machine during the lifetime of the machine. He said that this total is recorded on an official envelope prior to the start of any election day voting, then when the polls close, the new total on the Protective Counter is recorded.
A Double Check Prevents Run-ups
He said the Protective Counter number showing at the start of voting is then subtracted from the new Protective Counter Number showing at the close of the polls. The new number should equal the number of votes showing on the lower counter on the voting machine, the “Public Counter.” The Public Counter, our inspector said, is set back to zero at the start of the Election Day, and records each vote cast that day.
THE PUBLIC COUNTER is the official record of votes cast that day, according to WPCNR’s election machine consultant. It is set to zero before the start of the day’s voting and each voter from either party is recorded.
Photo by WPCNR
The Public Counters on all machines in the 89th Assembly District recorded both Republican and Democratic voters that day. The inspector said what might account for the difference between signed-in voters at the poll check-in desks, and votes registered on the machine would be persons not voting in an Assembly race, for example, accounting for a discrepancy between number of votes registered in the Assembly race and the number of total votes on the machine. He also noted a difference can occur when the Protective Counter number is written down incorrectly at the beginning of the election day.
Reading errors do occur.
Reading off a number from a machine incorrectly either before the polls open or after they close is not uncommon, our expert said. WPCNR noted two instances of numbers being read off incorrectly when I observed the recanvass in White Plains last Tuesday. Each time the read-off error was caught by representatives from both the Bradley and Matusow camps, one read-off error would have cost Mr. Bradley 100 votes.
According to the WPCNR court observer yesterday, Ms. Matusow’s attorney was making the case that there were differences between Protective Counter Counts and signed-in voters across all towns, including Pound Ridge and North Castle, and not just White Plains, a difference of 76 votes across an estimated 100 voting machines.
Unceremonious Bumps Bump the Numbers?
Clerks have told WPCNR that when machines are returned from polling places, occasionally counters are nudged and move up a notch, when machines are loaded onto trucks and moved back to storage. This also could account for 1 and 2 vote differences in the “Protective Counter” which should show up on the recanvass, increasing the total voter count. In fact, this was mentioned during the actual recanvass of the White Plains machines on September 17, one week ago, when just such a discrepancy between a Protective Counter Number and a Public Counter was noted by the recanvassers. The Election Inspector said the Public Count was the official count and it matched what was recorded out of the machine on Election Night on the various lines.
This exchange between Election Inspectors September 17 observed by WPCNR is standard procedure. According to our Election Inspector consultant, the “Public Counter” on the bottom is the official record, and any differences caused by transportation of the machine would be highlighted in the recanvass. There were no differences between Public Counter numbers and recanvass results which across all towns in the 89th District except in one case: the 9th and 13th districts in White Plains.
“Protective Counter” counts held up in all towns, North and South in the 89th District except on one machine in White Plains, where Mr. Bradley was found to receive 145 votes to Ms. Matusow’s 35 in the 9th and 13th Election Districts that enabled him to overtake Ms. Matusow.
Back to the Numbers
Both contestants and the Board of Elections will go over the numbers Tuesday and Wednesday and report back to Judge Orazio Bellantoni in Supreme Court Thursday morning.