Voter fraud, right here in Guilford County

by YES! Staff

Word got out pretty quick on the internet last week after a Guilford County voter, Sharon “Sher” Coromilas, reported to Fox 8 that the vote she cast for Mitt Romney during early voting had registered for Barack Obama on the county’s touch-screen voting machine at the Bur-Mil site.

Fox 8 broke the story on Tuesday night — misspelling Coromilas’ name, which made for some confusion when we were searching for her voting record — and by the next afternoon, more than 100 websites had picked up the story, most of the coming from the right side of the political spectrum and with no small degree of outrage.

And like in any game of telephone, the message got distorted as it spread.

There is no massive voter fraud or grand conspiracy going down in Guilford County

“Greensboro Guilford County votes default to Obama,” reported the Citizen Wells blog.

Yahoo Answers ran a thread titled, “MASSIVE voter fraud  already — who ‘recalibrated’ these voting machines to vote for Obama only?” “Voter fraud has started,” accused Fox News hit it too, with a web article with the hed: “North Carolina residents for Romney say machine gave their vote to Obama.”

All of the posts linked to the original Fox 8 reporting, and all misspelled Coromilas’ last name.

If only that was all they got wrong. Charlie Collicutt, deputy director for the Guilford County Board of Elections, puts things in perspective.

“The Bur-Mil story, there were four people who called me” about votes registering for the wrong candidate, he says, “and countless others who said they knew someone that it happened to or they’re worried that it happened to them. The amount of people that it actually happened to them, I’d say not more than 10.”

He added that not one of the 10 ended up casting a vote for the wrong candidate — each instance was corrected on site before the ballots were cast.

“My position is that everyone that’s voting right now is pretty passionate and, I think, attentive to what they’re doing,” he said. “This is an instantaneous thing, not a behind-the-scenes thing. They were hitting ‘Romney’ and it was immediately registering as ‘Obama’ and we had reports [going] the other way too, people voting for Obama and it was registering as ‘Romney.’” As much as we love a good conspiracy around here, it seems that this one has a simple explanation.

“These things aren’t iPads,” Collicutt said. “These are touchscreens from 2006, and any touch-screen from 2006 is gonna have calibration problems.

“I accept the responsibility that our machines, the calibration got askew,” he continued, “but at the same time the voters were able to make the correction and not cast an erroneous ballot, because they looked at what they were doing and paid attention.”

So it seems that there is no massive voter fraud or grand conspiracy going down in Guilford County — just 10 voters from both sides who complained of problems with a couple of machine, none of whom cast an erroneous vote. And there are some, we are sure, that will be disappointed by this news.

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