Voting machine glitch not caused by software update; investigation ongoing

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The election day malfunction of Spalding County voting machines was not caused by a software update as officials previously cited.

Spalding County Election Supervisor Marcia Ridley on Thursday night confirmed the original information provided to her office and the Spalding Board of Elections was incorrect.

The erroneous information was reported to local officials by Dominion Voting Systems, the company responsible for Georgia’s new voting machines.

“They (Dominion) said that they ran the data and it showed that nothing was updated in the middle of the night. It was updated like it should have been after early voting. It was updated on Oct. 31 as it should  have been. Now they’re trying to investigate the glitch,” Ridley told The GRIP. “The person who worked for them misspoke. I think that person who said that was new because they were hiring a lot of people, and she misspoke. A representative for Dominion misspoke.”

The glitch that resulted in the malfunction of voting machines at all 18 Spalding County voting precincts is also under investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Dominion is investigating, and the Secretary of State is talking to Dominion, too. I’m sure they have forensic ways to determine what happened, what caused the glitch,” Ridley said.

Internally, Ridley said she and the Board of Elections are looking into claims that alleged Spalding County precincts were shut down for a period on election day morning.

A court petition was filed by Karen Mathiak and David Knight, local state representatives, resulting in a court order being issued by Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams requiring polls to remain open until 9 p.m.

“We are looking into what happened with the two hours that allegedly weren’t open due to a shutdown. I do want to keep saying that because it’s not true,” she said of allegations that precincts were not open at any point from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. election day. “We don’t know who, but somebody got that started. Somebody started a false allegation. The Board heard about it (the court order) at the same time everyone else heard it and that’s not protocol.”

Ridley emphatically denies that any Spalding poll was closed during state mandated voting hours.

“We had an order to open up. We have dismissed that we had to (remain) open because we were shut down for two and a half hours, so they’re looking into that and how all of that came about. Whatever it was, the protocol was not met.”

Although the investigation into the cause of the voting machine malfunction remains ongoing, Ridley said steps will be taken to address potential problems in the future.

“We have a new workaround. We’re going to do some additional training. That training is going to add an extra component in case unforeseen technical issues arise. If there’s a message we’ve never seen before in training, that sort of thing. We’ll be talking about that and what we’ll do to help mitigate it is give them more information, like if there’s an access code the technician uses for the precinct, I want them (the poll manager) to have it, too,” Ridley said. “Also, rather than having one (supervisor’s) card per precinct, I want to have ten.  It’s going to be more refined in terms of technical issues. We have training on minor technical stuff but not on what to do if a card doesn’t read. That’s the kind of training that should be going on. I’ll be doing some additional training with the poll managers, so that if we come across something like this again, we’ll be better prepared.”

Ridley maintains the performance of her staff and poll workers while also acknowledging the need to prepare for any potential problems.
“We did a great job, but we’ve learned that with computers, anything can happen,” she said. “We’re in the computer age – a technological age – and we have to be prepared to answer these problems.”

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