Official admits to shocking inefficiency in US election

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BY ARUL LOUIS
New York, Nov 6 (IANS)
An official overseeing elections in the US state of Georgia has pointed out shocking inefficiencies in the presidential election like a memory card on an election machine failing, ballots that didn’t get uploaded to the system and the postal ballots printed on papers that could not be scanned for counting.
One of the polling place scanners in Taylor County had “a corrupt memory card”, Gabriel Sterling, the Georgia state voting system manager, said on Thursday.
He said they rescanned the paper versions of the ballots that were kept as backups.
In another county, Laurens, “they are trying to figure out exactly where the batches” are for 797 ballots, he said.
“They thought they had uploaded them and they looked and realised they had not,” Sterling said.
Taylor County had printed the postal ballots on a different size of paper from the one used to scan them for counting, he said.
“They’re going through the process of duplicating each of those ballots on the ballot marking devices,” which will have to be verified against the original to get the count done, he said.
Sterling pointed out that under Georgia law, “it’s counties who run elections and there are 159 counties in the state”,
They are of different sizes and have different levels of staffing, he said.
Election laws and process in the US differ by states.
Sterling said that in Georgia, “the law calls for all absentee (postal) ballots to be accepted by 7 p.m. on election day” and when they have problems the voters have to be notified that they have three days to “cure” or fix them.
Trump’s campaign is fighting the counting of postal ballots that come in after the close of voting on election day in some states.
Unlike countries like India, the US does not have a national body to run the elections, which are conducted by the states and there is a further level of complexity when the states devolve the responsibility to local government entities.
The Federal Election Commission concentrates on the election financing, strictly enforcing the laws on political contributions in cash and in kind, rather than dealing with the nitty-gritty of conducting elections.
The problems in the holding of US elections have come to the fore this time with President Donald pointing some of the flaws.
However, the Democrats have defended the system and the media, which complains about elections in other countries play down the faults of the US system to the point of almost denying their prevalence.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

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