Lawmakers call for e-voting probe

Three members of Congress have urged the Government Accountability Office to undertake an urgent review of electronic voting systems, citing several apparent technical snafus that have come to light after the Nov. 2 election.

Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent a letter late last week to Comptroller General David Walker to urge the inquiry. The letter focuses on improving voting systems for the next round of elections.

Among the problems the lawmakers list:

In Columbus, Ohio, a machine gave President Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes, in a district with fewer than 1,000 voters.

A machine tracking votes in Florida failed to record several thousand votes. The software had a built-in vote ceiling to protect against ballot stuffing, but officials were apparently unaware of it. The system began subtracting rather than adding votes once the ceiling was reached, according to press reports.

In one North Carolina county, election officials believed a computer could hold far more voting data than it actually could and 4,500 votes were lost.

In San Francisco, some votes went uncounted due to computer error.

Anecdotal reports from Youngstown, Ohio, suggest that some voters who attempted to vote for Sen. John Kerry found that the machine changed their votes to Bush. Similar problems were reported in at least six states, including Florida, according to the letter.

The lawmakers also point to figures that seem to show fewer Democratic votes than expected in some Florida counties with optical scan systems. They wrote that there was "a substantial drop off" in Democratic votes compared to Democratic party registrations in those counties, but not in counties using other technologies.

Conyers is ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee.

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