Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

Viral ‘Rigged’ Voting Machine Video Actually User Error

This post has been updated and expanded.

A video being passed around on Twitter has lit the fuse under claims of a “rigged” election, as a voter repeatedly tries — and fails — to vote for Trump. No matter how hard the voter pushes, the machine won’t change the ballot from Clinton.

The video has picked up over 11,000 retweets after six hours online, and published by a number of blogs and websites as suspicious or as evidence of fraud. But the machine is working exactly as it should.

Polling stations in Philadelphia, where the voter filmed the clip, use a Danaher Shouptronic voting machine. An instructional video on YouTube shows users need to re-press any button to cancel their selection, before making their choice again.

So, if he had pressed the button for Trump and then tried to change to Clinton, he would have to deselect Trump first.

We interviewed the voter, who goes by the handle Adonis Bravo. He said he reported the issue to the supervising staff at his polling station and workers "pressed a couple of buttons to reset the whole thing.” He then made his preferred choice for president without issue.

“I don’t think it’s concrete evidence,” of electoral fraud or foul play, he said, but it “adds some insight into how people come to those conclusions.”

"The example in the Pennsylvania video demonstrates the proper function for this machine which is preventing a voter from attempting to vote for two candidates in one race," said Tammy Patrick, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, who served as a commissioner on the President's commission on election administration.

"The way this machine is designed, is a voter has to deselect the cnadidates they've selected before making a new choice."

A video from Louisiana purporting to describe similar problems has been viewed more than 2.8 million times. In the video, the voter successfully selects Clinton and third-party candidate Gary Johnson, but is unable to select Trump.

"I have never had a machine where I had to hold the button down for four seconds before it counted my vote," said Tammy Procell Self, who recorded the Louisiana video.

Meg Casper, press secretary at Louisiana Secretary of State, told ProPublica a technician could not "recreate the problem" the voter was experiencing, but did replace the button on the machine.

"She was able to vote the way she wanted to vote," said Casper.

Patrick said the video also showed evidence of problems with how the machine was set up.

"The Louisiana video is a calibration issue because the cross should be in the box," she said, not next to it, as the video shows. "But calibration can be an intermittent issue," she added.

"It's really critical to keep in mind this voting equipment was manufactured to standards that predate the iPhone."

Last year new voting system standards were approved and are currently being incorporated into the next generation of voting machines.

These machines are "far more intuitive", Patrick said, "reflect the technology we interact with in our day-to-day lives."

Protect Independent Journalism

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing. We were founded ten years ago to fill a growing hole in journalism: newsrooms were (and still are) shrinking, and legacy funding models failing. Deep-dive reporting like ours is slow and expensive, and investigative journalism is a luxury in many newsrooms today — but it remains as critical as ever to democracy and our civic life. A decade (and five Pulitzer Prizes) later, ProPublica has built the largest investigative newsroom in the country. Our work has spurred reform through legislation, at the voting booth, and inside our nation’s most important institutions.

This story you’ve just finished was funded by our readers and we hope it inspires you to make a gift to ProPublica so that we can publish more investigations like this one that holds people in power to account and produces real change.

Your donation will help us ensure that we can continue this critical work. From the Trump Administration, criminal justice, health care, immigration and so much more, we are busier than ever covering stories you won’t see anywhere else. Make your gift of any amount today and join the tens of thousands of ProPublicans across the country, standing up for the power of independent journalism to produce real, lasting change. Thank you.

Donate Now

Portrait of Annie Waldman

Annie Waldman

Annie Waldman is a reporter at ProPublica covering education.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

Questions? Read our FAQ.

Follow Electionland

Partners

and 100+ local and national newsrooms. Sign up to become a partner here.

Technical Partner

More Election Tools

The User’s Guide to Democracy

Congress works for you. Here’s how to be a better boss.

Represent

See what your representatives in Congress say and do.

ProPublica on IFTTT

Do more with ProPublica data and automated notifications.

Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page