State investigating claim voting machine 'flipped' man's vote

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that the Georgia Secretary of State's Office is now investigating claims that a voting machine flipped presidential votes.%

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Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spoke exclusively with Secretary of State Brian Kemp Thursday about what he believes went wrong.

"Everybody that's in this business feels more pressure in a presidential election year because there's more scrutiny," Kemp told Diamant.

Kemp said that dynamic amplifies the latest investigation his office opened Thursday.

"We feel like we have a good handle on exactly what happened," Kemp said.

Kemp confirmed that on Tuesday, a voter in Bryan County, a little west of Savannah, struggled to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton.

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He claimed that on the "review your selection" screen, the electronic voting machine seemed to flip his vote to Donald Trump several times. Kemp called it a calibration problem.

"(I’m) not really surprised. There's enough electronic hijinks out there that it's something that could happen," voter Brian Ragan said. "The screen came up exactly the way I voted."

"The county is responsible for doing the logic and accuracy testing, and the calibration obviously was off a little bit on this machine," Kemp told Diamant.

Kemp said the county election office immediately took the machine out of service out of an abundance of caution.

"This is a good reason for voters to make sure before you cast that final, you know, push that final button to cast that ballot, make sure and review it," Kemp said.

Kemp called the incident isolated, and despite nearly a million early votes cast in Georgia, there have been no similar complaints either way.

"These things are going to happen, we just don't know when, where, what the issue's going to be, but when it does, we're going to react very quickly to it to keep that confidence in elections here in Georgia," Kemp said.

But how?

Merle King, executive director at the Center of Election Systems, which helps all Georgia counties run their machines, showed us what may have gone wrong. He says it all comes down to calibration.

"The calibration is done by touching the intersections of the crosses," King told Channel 2's Justin Wilfon.

If a machine is calibrated improperly, it's easy for a voter to make the wrong choice.

"Other reasons can be if a voter has long fingernails or jewelry that may hang from their wrist, or a sleeve that touches the screen," King said.

People in Henry County and elsewhere have also been reposting a Facebook message with claims of other vote flipping problems, but the director of Henry County's elections told Wilfon it's not true.

The key for every voter comes after they vote on the summary screen. Voters are advised to make sure the choices they made are the choices shown on that screen.

"Buyer beware. Make sure whatever you cast, whoever you cast for, is recorded properly," King said.

Late Thursday afternoon, Channel 2 Action News received an email from the Bryan County elections office saying that they tested all of the voting machines.