Touchscreen voting machines have been a concern since their adoption across the country. By midday Tuesday, the footage above had been circulated on YouTube and the rumors had begun: The fix is in.
The video shows a touchscreen voter from central Pennsylvania apparently trying to select "Barack Obama;" every time he does, the screen instead highlights "Mitt Romney."
The user, registered on YouTube only as "centralpavote," posted an account of his experience along with the video:
I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said "It's nothing to worry about, everything will be OK." and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.
Another user backed up the initial poster's story and identified the location of the rogue device as the tiny borough of Millerstown, PA.
So was it a case of digital revolt in the polling place? Greasy breakfast fingers? Something else?
Timothy V. Reilly, who chairs the Millerstown Municipal Authority, told Patch that the issue was making local news already in Perry County, PA.
“He kept trying to redo it, and every time he re-did it, he got the same result,” Reilly said. “Eventually, he was able to find a small little spot on the screen just below the edge of the Obama button to get the Obama vote to light up.”
According to Reilly, five people from the local election board were present at the time of the incident. The machine was taken offline and is no longer being used, he said.
It happened “relatively early” in the voting day at the small borough, Reilly said, where the majority of voters tend to show up after work.
“It's pretty thin in the early morning hours,” he said. “They tell me I'm the 11th one there and I show up at quarter to twelve.”
Millerstown has only recently switched over to electronic voting within the last four or five years, Reilly said; prior to that, elections were conducted with punch cards. This is the first time he’s heard of any glitch in the system.
Reilly doesn’t believe there was anything nefarious about the act. Politically, he said, the town—population 679—“is predominantly Republican, as is the county it’s located in,” and hardly the site to stage such tactics.
Instead, Reilly likened it to the kind of frustration that comes of renting a DVD from a finicky Redbox kiosk.
“If you don't touch that screen exactly in the right little pixel, it won't give you the movie you want,” he said. “I have a little problem with touchscreen reliability.”
Nonetheless, Reilly said, even if the situation is little more than a technological failure, it’s an important reminder to verify that your vote is locked in before you proceed.
“I believe that when people hear about it, it would want to make them see what they want to see before casting their final vote,” he said; “make sure that what they wanted is showing on the screen.”