HSE Recount - Machine versus Man

12/13/2020 - FCoHC by David Giffel I had the honor of counting mail-in ballots in the HSE school board election recount. Sarah Donsbach won the first count by 20 votes over Amanda Shera. Six of us hand-counted the mail-in ballots on December 8th, which were read initially by an optical machine tabulator.

The Hamilton County Reporter 12/11/2020 - Donsbach appears to still be the winner in HSE school board election In-Person Machines The in-person early and Tuesday voting machines were not considered. I’ve worked as an inspector in several elections, including the 2020 General. When the polls close, we insert a tally smart card into the machines and print out the results. Given my knowledge of my precinct demographics, the results were as expected in all the major races. Hamilton County uses the Microvote Infinity machines, and I talked with a representative at the recount. I asked him about the online video demonstrating a hacked tally card for cheating. He replied, “I would question the video.” He did not think it was possible with the Microvote machine. The state does certify these machines before the election with testing by Ball States VSTOP. However, the Microvote in-person voting machines do not have any paper trail to hand count. This seems like a problem to me. We only counted the paper mail-in ballot cards.

In the 2018 General, I voted on a test machine that did print a paper trail recording my ballot. Photo: Mircovote training video.

Mail-In Cards Two of us counted each precinct, one representing Amanda, and one representing Sarah. My brain was still looking at 104, 105, and 106 dots with a sore finger that night. The three tables flicked through just over 14,000 ballots from 8:30 am to just past 5:00 pm. The mail-in optical card counting machine is very accurate. My table counted about 4,000 ballot cards, and the counting machine is not perfect. I tallied a total error of about 0.2%. By the way, in the manufacturing process, that is an excellent error percentage. At most, the machine over or undercounted by one or two. About half of all the precincts we counted had some change. The errors thrown out by the optical machine were mostly from people not following instructions when completing the ballots.

The biggest problem I saw was when a person used a very light pencil to mark the ballot. One voter changed their mind and drew an X through a previous circle filled in and then filled in another. I saw three torn cards and a couple where the election day counters duplicated to a new card stapled together. Those all matched the originals. I was surprised at seeing four or five people vote for both Sara and Amanda. The machine disqualifies these. For mail-in, the outside envelope must be signed and match the registered poll book. About six or seven votes were rejected due to no signature or a signature did not match. The one signature not matching wasn’t close to looking like the same. I believe the election office gives you a chance to correct, but I suppose this person did not care. Once the envelopes are opened, the voter cards are removed so no one can know how a voter voted. I’m curious why so many people don’t vote in a down race because about 33% of mail-in voters did not vote in the school board race. This percentage should be less given some time to research. We all have the internet. Conclusion The recount was a great exercise given such a close race. I congratulate Sarah Donsbach and hope she lives up to, as advertised, a Mitch Daniels fiscal conservative. Sarah will replace Amanda Shera who is a proven fiscal conservative School board member representing the largest government unit in Hamilton County. Amanda Shera, thank you for your service! As for all the national rhetoric about voter fraud in other states, I conclude our Hamilton County election was fair and honest. I’ll never say it’s impossible to cheat an election, but I can say it’s almost impossible given the barriers and safeguards here in Hamilton County, Indiana.

David Giffel is a founding FCoHC Board-member, Fishers Indiana homeowner, Republican Hamilton County Delaware Township Board Member, Hamilton County Delaware 19 Republican Precinct Committeeman, Chairman Central Indiana IoPP Chapter, entrepreneur and has over 30 years business experience in manufacturing polymer resins, compounds, and plastic films.