Tags: Florida | Voting | Machines | 100 | Percent | Accurate | Says

Florida Voting Machines 100 Percent Accurate, Says Software President

Friday, 17 November 2000 12:00 AM

"We've counted 100 percent accuracy every time we've gone through certification testing," Nolte said.

Certification testing is the strict standard by which the state allows hardware and software to be used in the elections process. In Florida, the acceptable margin of error is one for every million votes counted.

Before the actual counting of ballots begins, a logic and accuracy test is conducted. During the test, a sample deck of ballots with a predetermined result is run through the machine.

Only if the machine and software pass the test will they both be used. After the official ballots are counted, the same sample deck is run through the machine again to make sure the accuracy rating is the same as before the official count.

"What they're doing is sandwiching the actual ballot count in between two logic and accuracy tests that produce a known result," Nolte explained.

The name of Nolte's software used in Florida is ETNet, or Election Tabulation Network. Although the software is not used statewide, it is used in the above-mentioned counties and nine others including Collier, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Marion, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota.

But if Nolte's software is 100 percent accurate, why have there been so many changes in Texas Gov. George W. Bush's lead over Vice President Al Gore?

Nolte's answer focused on the now-infamous hanging chad.

"If the [chad] is flopping around partially attached to the card when it goes through the card reader, it's just as likely to cover up the hole as it is to not cover up the hole," Nolte said. "If it covers up the hole, then it doesn't create a vote. If it doesn't cover up the hole, it does create a vote."

OK, but what about "disappearing" chads?

"The chad is just barely hanging [on the ballot]. It's something that should have been separated," explained Nolte.

Nolte told NewsMax.com the hanging chads have ample time to fall off on their own volition, that is, without encouragement from a hand operator.

For example, each time the ballots are recounted they're fanned apart, assuring that none stick together. Then, as they go through the machine, they're forced through a path with a lot of air blowing through it. During this process, some chads will likely fall off, changing the vote count.

Commenting on the problem of hanging chads, Nolte said, "If you got good voter education and the voters follow the rules, then your recounts are not going to change very much from your first counts."

With hanging chads a problem that could plague both Bush and Gore voters, Nolte added, it would make sense that the numbers for both Bush and Gore would increase on a consistent basis statewide.

However, the recounts are not being conducted statewide. They're being conducted only in Democrat-dominant counties on Florida's east coast. Thus, any recount in these counties would tend to favor Gore. Conversely, any recount in a Republican-dominant county would tend to favor Bush.

Besides the obvious bias in a partial recount of primarily Democrat counties, human error also plays a considerable role and could be a deciding factor in the manual recounts of selected counties' ballots.

Said Nolte: "What the manual recount does is allow the canvassing board to interpret – to take into account – voter intent, so you get these partially punched holes that the machine is never going to count, [including] what they've called the three corner chad, the pregnant chad and the dimple chad. There's no way these are ever going to produce a vote.

"They're not going to swing one way one time and one way the next because they're too firmly attached to the card, but they may indicate the voter's intent was to actually vote for that individual."

Then again, a dimpled chad may not indicate voter's intent. Unlike human beings, machines can't make those kinds of decisions.

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We've counted 100 percent accuracy every time we've gone through certification testing, Nolte said. Certification testing is the strict standard by which the state allows hardware and software to be used in the elections process.In Florida, the acceptable margin of...
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2000-00-17
Friday, 17 November 2000 12:00 AM
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