In December 2016, Time reported more than 80 ballot machines in Detroit, Michigan experienced technical malfunctions on Election Day and caused voting discrepancies in 59% of the city’s precincts. It is unclear whether the city, dominated by minority voters and Democrats, was able to produce reliable election results because of the malfunctions.
“This is not the first time,” said the city’s elections director, Daniel Baxter. “We’ve had this problem in nearly every election that we administer in the city of Detroit.”
Though the machines are tested to ensure that they work properly prior to election day, Baxter said, sometimes the machines “hit up against each other and malfunction” during transport to each precinct.
The optical scanner machines registered and counted paper ballots that each voter filled out. Some experts speculate that Michigan’s two-page ballot in 2016 contributed to the malfunction, in which the machines jammed throughout the course of the day. This meant that, though paper ballots were collected properly, the machines inconsistently counted their results.
“You don’t expect a laptop to last 10 years, and you shouldn’t expect a voting machines to last 10 years,” said Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey.
Losing Green Party candidate Jill Stein demanded a recount following the election, during which the errors were found. However, a judge halted the recount, arguing that Stein was not an “aggrieved party” in the election.
President Trump took the victory in Michigan by a margin of 10,704 votes. Meanwhile, the city of Detroit has approximately 670,000 residents.
“The recount campaign was premised on the notion that we deserve a voting system we can trust,” said Dr. Jill Stein. “No, we do not have a voting system we can trust.”