Voting Malfunctions: Obama Votes in Harlem Not Counted

The bad news is voting machines malfunctioned in Harlem and many Obama votes didn't get counted. The good news: It's being rectified.

The tip-off: Several Harlem precincts recorded 0 votes for Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district.

Neither campaign nor experts attribute the errors to anything but human error and the way the ballots were laid out.


Election officials and lawyers for both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton agree that it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made by weary inspectors rushing on election night to transcribe columns of numbers that are delivered first to the police and then to the news media.

In a few places, the same thing happened to Hillary:

City election officials said they were convinced that there was nothing sinister to account for the inaccurate initial counts, and The Times’s review found a handful of election districts in the city where Mrs. Clinton received zero votes in the initial results.

There could be a slight re-arranging of delegates after the recount, to Obama's favor, particularly if Brooklyn votes were also miscounted:

On primary night, Mrs. Clinton was leading with 57 percent to Mr. Obama’s 40 percent in New York State, which meant she stood to win 139 delegates to Mr. Obama’s 93, with 49 others known as superdelegates going to the national convention unaffiliated.

....On Feb. 5, Mrs. Clinton carried 61 of the state’s 62 counties but won Brooklyn by a margin of less than 2 percent. Because delegates are awarded proportionately on the basis of the primary vote in each Congressional district, Obama supporters expressed hope that if the official count continued in their favor, they might gain an additional delegate or two.

We all want a fair election. I'm glad this is being straightened out. If Obama earned more votes and delegates, he should get them.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Countdown to... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by BrandingIron on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 01:25:11 PM EST
    ...whining about Clinton cheating by Obama supporters in 3...2...

    Bill Did it.... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Stellaaa on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 01:37:42 PM EST
    His office is in Harlem n'est pas?  

    It happened to Both Candidates (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by D Cupples on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 05:42:34 PM EST
    I agree with OldPro, because the NYT article states:

    "The Times's review found a handful of election districts in the city where Mrs. Clinton received zero votes in the initial results."

    Oddly, the headline doesn't indicate that it happened to both candidates -- and we had to wait until the 7th paragraph to find out that it did.

    I object to the headlines (none / 0) (#4)
    by oldpro on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 01:53:02 PM EST
    for this happened to both candidates.  The lead, however, emphasizes the Obama undercount and is, therfore, open to misinterpretation by the anti-Hillary crowd, so ready to jump to conclusions.

    Not good.

    The headline (none / 0) (#8)
    by tek on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 03:31:15 PM EST
    doeesn't say Hillary's votes were not counted, they just addressed Obama.
    Get over it.

    Obama votes not counted? How cool is that?


    The article was very fair (none / 0) (#10)
    by pontificator on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 04:17:02 PM EST
    And the headline was accurate in that the official count will probably add a delegate or two to Obama's totals.  It's clear to anyone who reads the article (and also, incidentally, to anyone familiar with New York City voting machines and elections), that this is just overstressed election workers screwing up on election night.  Thankfully, the votes are still there, and the count can be rectified officially.

    Oh for Chrissakes... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oldpro on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 05:18:22 PM EST
    I didn't say the article wasn't fair.  I said nothing about the article, although the fact that BOTH candidates had the same zero-total malfunction in voting machines wasn't mentioned until well into the story.

    My point is a very simple one.  The headline was misleading as it implied that ONLY Obama's votes were miscounted...when the fact is that both candidates votes were miscounted.

    You may not think it matters but those who are schooled in propaganda know that most people only get the headline of a story and maybe the first paragraph.  That is why bumperstickers, slogans, billboards, headlines are effective.  They are the 'short story' and when they are inaccurate or misleading, it's not only 'not cool'...it's wrong and it's bad journalism, by design or by default.

    In journalism headline-writing class, that is an 'F.'  Pure and simple.


    One other, less-than-nefarious possibility (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 02:22:09 PM EST
    the machines are broken-down.

    As noted in this already off the rec list diary at Kos, the use of old lever machines in NYC may have had something to do with the problem.  

    Remember, Bushco sued NYC earlier this year to try to force them to comply with HAVA and, thereunder, adopt no-paper-trail digital/electronic machines, and NYC fought back noting all the deficiencies in those very mcahines. Because NYC has an election board evenly divided between the parties and a majority is required to move anything forward, not much ever gets done.  So, they never did get around to getting rid of the lever machines.  But, it turned out, they were smart (or lucky) because they probably have the least-hackable machines going. They're all analog - all mechanical.  No way to hack them.

    In short the old lever machines, on the back, have many little window-type openings inside each of which is something which looks something like the odometer on a 1960-vintage car.  The lever machines are of that 1960s vintage so it was state of the art when built.  A series of wheels, driven by gears.  Each wheel would have a number from 0 to 9.  The voter would turn the lever for their respective candidate (to cast a vote) and then throw the big lever (to operate the curtain and record the vote), and then a series of mechanical linkages would operate to, ultimately, advance the numbers on that candidate's odometer by one.

    The problem is, they're all worn out.  And worn out gears - don't necessarily register the votes.  There's a rational explanation;  whether it's the complete one, I dunno.

    Good (none / 0) (#11)
    by BDB on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 04:24:31 PM EST
    Always nice to see votes counted.  

    Indeed we should insist on a fair election (none / 0) (#14)
    by Lora on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 05:19:16 PM EST
    From the Brad Blog on this very article:

    Notable then, is a graphic that runs along with the Times article...explaining how tallies are collected from NY's lever machines and then --- for some reason --- collected on a computer. Those tallies are then given to Associated Press (instead of to election officials), which demonstrates that yes, computers do come into play in NY's system, and could as well be the root of the problem, along with human error, bad lever machines, or anything else.