Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Voting checks
failed to detect
fault twice

A flawed ballot counter passed
a manual check and a
mechanical test

By Craig Gima


A manual counting of votes that is supposed to detect problems with general election results failed to find irregularities in one of the precincts where ballot-reading machines malfunctioned, according to chief election officer Dwayne Yoshina.

Another mechanical test of a machine soon after the election also did not detect the problem, Yoshina said.

He said it is his understanding that a random manual audit was conducted on election night in one of the seven precincts where machines failed to read ballots correctly. He said, however, that the audit probably looked at races other than the one where the machine misread the votes.

"For whatever reason, the manual audit team did not audit that race. Sometimes they audit 100 percent, sometimes they audit just parts of it," he said.

Yoshina said that in the future he will probably call for an additional review of precinct results. But he does not believe there should be changes in the way election-night audits are conducted.

"Manual auditing is semiautonomous of our operations," he said. "They basically have carte blanche of what they audit."

"If they blind-test us then we cannot predict what they are going to do, therefore we cannot fool around with the election results," he added.

He said a dispute over re-marking of ballots on election night took time away from the audits and may have meant that the team did fewer checks than usual.

Tom Eschberger, a vice president of Election Systems & Software, which provided the computers for the election, said a test conducted soon after the election on the software and the machine that malfunctioned in a Waianae precinct showed the machine worked normally.

He said the company did not know about the problem with the machine until after the Supreme Court-ordered recount, when a second test on the same machine detected the malfunction. He said the company is still investigating.

Hawaii's primary election was the first major test of the AIS-100 precinct machines, and Eschberger said unforeseen problems with a new machine can happen.

"But again, in all fairness, there were 7,000 machines in Venezuela and 500 machines in Dallas that did not have problems," he said.

Yoshina noted the machines were certified by the Federal Elections Commission.

"I would hope that because an independent testing authority had tested the system and it was certified, that all these things are fully tested," he said.

Chief election officer
undergoes job review



The Elections Appointment Panel is starting its work to decide whether chief election officer Dwayne Yoshina will keep his job for another four-year term.

Yoshina's term expired Jan. 31, but he is being held over until the panel either reappoints him or selects someone else.

Former Honolulu City Clerk Ray Pua, chairman of the five-member panel, said the group will be looking at Yoshina's performance during the last election but will conduct its evaluation separately from the Senate investigation into irregularities in the general election.

The panel is scheduled to meet Feb. 18 to review a performance evaluation form for Yoshina. Pua said Yoshina will not be at the first meeting but will appear in a later meeting. He said the panel hopes to make a decision by March 31. The term of panel members expires on June 30.

The panel was appointed by the governor in 1995 when the state changed the law to take the chief election officer out of the lieutenant governor's office.

Each member is selected from lists provided by the Senate president, House speaker and Republicans in the House and the Senate. The governor selects the fifth member.

Before 1995, Yoshina was a civil service employee. But now he is exempt from civil service law and protections such as "bumping rights" if he is not reappointed, said a spokesman for the Department of Human Resources Development.

Calls for election recounts
impel Senate investigation

By Craig Gima


Senate President Norman Mizuguchi was expected to announce details today of a Senate investigation into last year's election and the malfunction of ballot-counting machines in seven precincts.

"This is what the United States is all about, and the people's right to vote and having this particular process free from any kind of irregularities is very important," Mizuguchi said.

The investigation comes amid calls for a partial to full recount of the general and primary elections.

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae), who is expected to be a leader of the investigation, said she wants answers about how decisions were made about the election process.

"How did they manage to turn off the safeguards?" she asked. "How did this process come in two months before the primary? xxx Why is it in the absentee ballots we voted with pencil, and when we went to the booths we voted with this pen that bled Hanabusa said the more she looks into the situation, the more questions she has.

"This is like we're peeling away at everything, and every time we peel away, there's no end."

Late yesterday afternoon, Hanabusa met with officials from Election Systems & Software, which supplied the election machines and computers.

"I think her concerns are genuine, but I also hope now that she feels the company is willing to assist the state in any way we can in providing a solution," said Tom Eschberger, ES&S vice president.

The company has offered to pay for a full recount.

Gov. Ben Cayetano said he does not think a full recount is necessary, but that if one is performed, the primary election results should also be recounted.

"To go through the entire vote count without more than what we see, I think maybe is a waste of time," Cayetano said. "If they want to do it, it's all right with me, because the audit that I saw actually showed me gaining votes."

His Republican opponent in the general election, Linda Lingle, who lost by slightly more than 5,000 votes, said there is no accurate count of the election results.

Lingle said that she would like to see a full recount of all races and that it doesn't matter if the governor's race is affected.

"I don't think that's a relevant point," she said. "The public has a right to know what is the outcome of the election."

Dwayne Yoshina, chief election officer, said he is waiting for a report from ES&S before deciding whether to order a full recount.

He said, however, that he will probably order at least an additional random audit of precincts.

Eschberger said a statistical analysis of the returns found no races that would be affected.

"I will stake what's left of my reputation that the rest of those (ballot) counters performed 100 percent," he said.

Cayetano noted that even if the outcome of a race is changed, the election has been certified, so legislators would have to pass a law to allow a new election or to reverse the result.

Hawaii isn't the only state
with voting problems

Other states have had problems with equipment from the company Election Systems & Software:

Bullet In Dallas, which uses the same precinct ballot-counting machine as Hawaii, 41,015 votes were initially missed.

Bullet In Detroit's primary, problems with poorly trained election workers delayed unofficial returns until the next afternoon, and delayed certified results for two weeks.

Bullet In Rhode Island, a computer glitch caused primary election returns to be delayed until 11 a.m. the next day.

Bullet Several counties in Maryland that had used the company's machines for previous elections had problems with ballots that were improperly printed.

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