Rotary’s recent electoral failure is ‘unprecedented’, says Board of Elections spokesperson

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Sunday 04 September 2022

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Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Chief Electoral Officer Rob Rock demonstrate how to use ExpressVote.

The recent failure of the election machine for early voting was “unprecedented”, according to Board of Elections spokesman Chris Hunter.

Never before in the history of elections have voters who correctly registered and voted correctly had their votes not counted.

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Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea blamed the failure on the board of elections and the state contractor.

But a few days before the failure, Gorbea held a press conference highlighting the technology – the very technology that failed.

“As Secretary of State, I am committed to improving access to the ballot box while ensuring the integrity of every vote,” Gorbea told a United Way press conference. “Using new technologies such as ExpressVote and the 2-1-1 Voter Helpline ensures that all Rhode Islanders can make their voices heard safely, surely, and independently this fall. “

Gorbea is Rhode Island’s Chief Electoral Officer.

Latest in Rhode Island

Last week, it was discovered that up to 55 voters – trying to vote in Spanish – received prompts on the screen of voting machines to vote, in the case of Providence, for mayoral candidates running are presented in 2018.

The ballots of these voters will not be counted.

On Friday, Gorbea blamed the Board of Elections and the ESS.

Gorbea issued the following statement after the failure was made public, two days after learning of the error:

I am outraged that the state’s voting machine provider, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), had a programming error that resulted in incorrect candidates being displayed on the screens of ExpressVote machines in Spanish in four communities in the Rhode Island. I am also appalled that the Board of Elections did not identify these errors during its legally mandated logic and accuracy testing process.

Although I have no legal power over the Rhode Island Board of Elections, I have asked them to conduct a thorough and independent audit of this matter. The Rhode Island Board of Elections must explain to the public why this error was not discovered sooner, what was done to remedy the situation, and show Rhode Island voters what it has done to certify that this error will not happen again.

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Gorbea promoting new technology at a press conference – technology has failed.

Growing chorus of critics

Stephanie Beauté, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, said in a statement to GoLocal, “The Rhode Island Board of Elections did not properly preview the ballot in Spanish for Early Voting…it had 2018 candidates listed at instead of 2022 candidates. Although it is ultimately the responsibility of the Board of Elections, as Secretary of State my staff and I would check all ballots before they go live. The Board of Elections of Rhode Island relied on a longtime vendor—error.

“This terrible mistake affected 55 voters, whose votes will NOT be counted. This is a very serious issue and one that should never have happened. As a technology business leader. Checking and double-checking for accuracy is the hallmark of what good companies and technologists do – I would NOT let that mistake happen as Secretary of State,” she added.

State Representative Gregg Amore, also a candidate to replace Gorbea, said in a statement to GoLocal, “Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and this is unacceptable. Every voting machine should always be tested and re- tested for accuracy Clearly an issue with the vendor who implemented these digital ballots, as well as a breach of testing protocol by the Board of Elections that needs to be rectified The relationship with this vendor should also be reassessed and his revised contract. At this point in our nation’s history, it is imperative that we build trust in the electoral system and I am committed to doing so.

Previously, Gorbea’s Democratic rivals for governor – Helena Foulkes and Matt Brown – have both castigated Gorbea’s failure.

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