LINCOLN — Machines really are better than people when it comes to counting votes, according to Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale.
During a recent audit of 14,687 ballots cast in the 2012 election in Nebraska, his office found only six errors, an error rate of 0.0004 percent.
That compares with an error rate in hand-counted elections of 2 percent to 4 percent.
“Our electronic tabulation is a thousand times more accurate,” Gale said in a press release. “There have been many advantages of electronic tabulation, and accuracy is definitely one of them.”
The audit, done after every statewide election since 2008, is used to confirm the accuracy of the optical scanning machines used to count ballots. They were fully deployed statewide in 2006.
Ballots from 29 randomly selected precincts in 19 counties were hand-counted in three races. The errors were found in Harlan, Richardson and Sarpy Counties.
Neal Erickson, deputy secretary of state for elections, said Friday that most of the errors are related to operator or voter error.
One common error: A voter will change his mind, attempt to erase one pencil mark and mark another oval. Erickson said that can cause the vote-counting machines to count two votes, an “overvote.”
Voters who change their minds should request a new ballot, he said. “Why do you think the pencils we put out there don't have erasers?” Erickson said.