In advance of Monday’s hearing on the Richland County voting issues, a new report finds that voters had access to 22.7 percent less voting machines than they did in 2010.
The report was prepared by Duncan Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina, and an election analyst for the League of Women Voters.
Buell’s report compares figures from 2010 to this year. Voter turnout in the year of presidential election is typically higher than in years when there is not. This trend held true again in 2012 as 17,000 more people cast votes than two years ago. But the number of machines allocated by the Richland County Office of Elections and Voter Registrations does not appear to have taken this fact under consideration. There were 813 machines deployed in 2010 and 628 this year. Under Federal Election Law, polling places are supposed to have one machine for every 250 registered voters, which meant that the county should have had at least 971 machines deployed this year. See how many machines were at each precinct in 2010 and 2012 HERE.
In the notes to his report, Buell says that he does not claim to that his report his 100 percent accurate, primarily due to time stamp anomalies.
The data Buell received obtained came directly from the State Election Commission. It has several notable findings that illustrate the effects of the shortage in machines:
- Of the 628 machines in use, more than a tenth (69) malfunctioned at some point on Election Day.
- More than half (384) of the machines closed after 7:30 p.m. compared to 132 in 2010.
- The last machine closed in 2010 at 9:26 p.m. In 2012 the last one closed at 1:20 a.m. on the morning of November 7.
- In 2012, 14,784 of the votes or 12 percent were cast after polls had closed. In 2010 that number was 1,931 or about 2 percent.
- If a voter was in line when polls closed at 7 p.m. the average wait time was an additional one hour and eight minutes.
Tellingly, Buell added as a conclusion: “The election could only have been conducted in 12 hours under an absolutely perfect distribution of voter arrivals and terminal allocations.”
See Patch's coverage of the Richland County Election mess HERE.