Politics  :  Voting

Republican National Committee alleges voting machine troubles in Nevada, other swing states


Early voting in Nevada draws to a close on Friday. / RGJ file photo

Secretary of State Ross Miller called claims of voter machine irregularities in Nevada by the Republican National Committee “irresponsible and unfortunate” on Thursday.

Miller, a Democrat, was responding to a letter sent to his office and election officials in five other states on Thursday in which the RNC alleged voting machines cast ballots for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, when the vote was intended for his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The RNC did not provide documented proof of its allegation aside from media anecdotes.

In Washoe County, a man reported a problem with a voting machine in which he tried to vote for Obama but the machine kept registering a vote for Romney. The machine was recalibrated by election officials.

Miller responded in a letter sent to the RNC on Thursday that said unsubstantiated allegations of voting machine problems based on rumor, media reports and hearsay, “undermine the public’s confidence in the electoral process.”

The RNC letter expressed concerns that the voting machine problems were the result of “miscalibration and hyper-sensitivity of the machines.” Letters were sent to officials in Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.

The RNC asked officials to recalibrate voting machines on Election Day and instruct poll workers to remind voters to double-check their votes.

Eric Herzik, the chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno, said the RNC needs to “put up or shut up.”

“This is not normal; this is reprehensible,” Herzik said. “If you do not have direct proof, you are making a claim that undermines the American electoral process.”

He added, “They ought to have 100 percent proof or they’ve lost credibility as a party. Americans should just be outraged if they have no proof and I’m a Republican.”

Claims of voting machine troubles are nothing new in Nevada, which have included media anecdotes of irregularities this election cycle.

In 2010, former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle alleged problems with voting machines after losing her bid to unseat U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., something she addressed in her self-published book, “Right Angle.”

In response to Angle’s allegations, Miller’s office conducted an investigation with the FBI and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office that ultimately found the claims to be without merit.

Miller said Nevada has safeguards against voting machine troubles, including voters being asked twice to review their selections before making their vote official. If there are any problems, voters are asked to stop voting immediately and bring any concerns to poll workers.

“While it is possible for a voter to inadvertently select a candidate, it is not possible for the machine to automatically select a candidate,” Miller said in his statement.