Michigan Election Tabulating Software “Glitched”

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 6 months ago

News from Michigan.

The Republican Party of Michigan held a press conference Friday afternoon and revealed six thousand Republican votes were calculated for Democrats after a software glitch. That software was used in dozens of counties around the state.

“In Antrim County, ballots were counted for Democrats that were meant for Republicans, causing a 6000 vote swing against our candidates. The county clerk came forward and said, ‘tabulating software glitched and caused a miscalculation of the votes.’ Since then, we have now discovered that 47 counties used this same software in the same capacity,” Michigan GOP Chairwoman Laura Cox said.

Software does not “glitch.”  That is a lie.

In order to set the stage for what I’m about to say, let me divert for a moment to an analogy.  A former colleague of mine, a fellow registered professional engineer like me, was sitting before attorneys and being questioned for jury duty.  Apparently, the attorney was working a case where, I guess, someone took Otis elevator to court over an elevator malfunction (I don’t know of other elevator companies, so I just threw in Otis).

The attorney asked my colleague, “Do you believe that elevators can fall for no reason?”  My colleague replied, “No.  There will always be a reason for what happens.  It might be a brake malfunction due to failure of some component, poor maintenance, or something else.  It might take a formal root cause analysis to ascertain the reason for the failure.  But an elevator cannot fall for no reason.”  My colleague was dismissed until the attorney found enough jurors who believed that elevators can fall for no apparent reason.

The mathematics of ballot counting is simple.  We’re not solving differential equations in Python (something I’ve done).  This is addition, and elementary school children learn to do it at a young age.

Furthermore, let’s assume that the software is written in Python (it could be another language, but this will suffice for the purpose).  If a programmer wrote a piece of code that said of some given data set, for every ballot for candidate A, sumA += 1, it cannot possibly be interpreted as for every ballot cast for candidate A, sumB += 1.  It doesn’t work that way unless it is intentional.

Ah, you say, but Python doesn’t compile.  The coding could have been written in C++.  Okay, but any C++ compiler that produced a result like this would have been found out within a day of releasing the compiler and would have been panned by the engineering and scientific community.  The company doing something like that would go bankrupt.  Compilers don’t produce errors like that.  Problems that severe are worked out long before release of the new version.

Things in coding that produce wrong answers aren’t called “glitches.” They are called bugs, and coders work very hard to fix code bugs.  Many times, code doesn’t compile with bugs.  But if it does and an incorrect computation makes its way into the coding, this is the fault of the coder.

A coder would not make the error of adding the sum of A to the sum of B unless it was intentional.  What the county clerk wants you to believe is that coding has “glitches,” or hiccups, or has anthropomorphic characteristics like “bad hair days.”  For no obvious reason, it just does something wrong.  Or for no apparent reason, it does things one way today, and another way tomorrow.  The county clerk wants you to believe that elevators can just fall for no reason.

There is no such thing as a “computer glitch, twitch, scratch, sneeze, bad hair day,” or otherwise.  It doesn’t work that way.  The people promulgating that myth think you’re stupid and that coding doesn’t work right unless it has had its coffee that morning.


  1. On November 6, 2020 at 9:34 pm, George 1 said:

    If you were going to run software that was “glitchy” I would think that a Presidential election would not be the place to do so.

    Just saying.

  2. On November 6, 2020 at 9:46 pm, Jimmy the Saint said:

    That’s very interesting, but we don’t care. Once the fix is in, the fix is in, just like the 1919 World Series.
    – The judges who will ultimately determine the outcome

  3. On November 6, 2020 at 11:31 pm, Hudson H Luce said:

    Probably the same software company that made the counting software for the 2020 Iowa Democratic Primary, I’ll bet… and while Sanders was winning by a big margin when the counting was stopped, by a miracle Biden won it the next morning…

  4. On November 7, 2020 at 12:30 am, Michael (from Utah) said:

    Yep, that sounds about right. And, I’m not a coder, but you don’t need to be a coder to know that computers only do what they’re told to do.

  5. On November 7, 2020 at 4:11 am, Archer said:

    As an IT worker, I want to point out that software is NEVER adopted blindly. There is ALWAYS a period of acceptance and suitability testing before a package — even a COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) package like Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Office — is put into production (“in production” == “used in live environments”). Always. No exceptions.

    If nothing else, IT needs to verify the file types jive well with their existing systems and/or the software doesn’t f@#$ up something on the network or collect and transmit private information.

    If this “glitch” were a bug that the developer somehow missed (which I don’t see happening with something this obvious), acceptance testing would have seen it, the counties would have reported it to the developer, and the software would not have been adopted.

    So no, I’m not buying the “glitch” story for one second. There are too many steps between development and production for this to be an uncaught coding error.

    The other possibility is that the “glitch” was known and is, in whole or in part, the very reason it was adopted. In which case somebody — probably multiple somebodies — needs to be in prison.

  6. On November 7, 2020 at 7:03 am, Todd said:

    The machine That did the count needs to be audited. No touchy, no fixed, just leave it alone and let credentialed auditors determine what happened and why. I would not be surprised if this was either programmed to do what it did, or someone just decided to make 6000 votes out of,whole cloth and was somehow discovered.

  7. On November 7, 2020 at 8:35 am, Ned2 said:



  8. On November 7, 2020 at 9:13 am, Levi Garrett said:

    I wonder if the “glitch” worked the other way and changed any Democrat votes into votes for Republican candidates?

  9. On November 7, 2020 at 9:41 am, Ned said:

    Republicans have been ignoring voter fraud since I was in California in the 90’s and they kept “finding” more Democrat votes until Bob Dornan lost. Republicans were like “trust the process.”

    Last election Kisrten Sinema won in Arizona the same way – they kept “finding” votes until the Republican lost.

    The Arizona Republican party did nothing.

    The Republican party is in a war and are either too stupid to know it or are a part of it. But the leftists who oppose liberty know it and act like it, ad will do anything to win.

    The power to use vote tabulation machines to switch votes isn’t a bug – it’s a feature. And it’s not new.

    Welcome to the Banana Republic – where your vote is irrelevant.


  10. On November 7, 2020 at 10:29 am, Uncle Al said:

    I spent 45 years in IT, starting when computers == mainframes filling entire rooms but with less storage capacity and thousands of times slower processors then you have in today’s “smart” refrigerator. Over half of that time I spent as a commercial software product director involved in market analysis, product design, documentation, support oversight, and most importantly for this discussion in coding, unit testing, integration testing, and acceptance testing. And all of this was in the ever-accelerating world of the information technology environment from mainframe to pc to Unixland to embedded processors to Big Data, and on and on..

    I’m not trying to impress anybody with anything other than I know what the heck I’m talking about. Herschel Smith and Archer are together right on the money. This was not a software error, much less a “glitch” (which term I also despise). The most innocent (and unlikely) cause of the miss-counting could be the grossest possible level of incompetence on the part of both the software provider and the using customer.

    But the most likely cause is evil intent. This wasn’t just a slip-up. This was a deliberate attempt by BOTH the software provider AND the election boards to produce results consistent with their politic goals in a fashion that they hoped would not be discovered.

  11. On November 7, 2020 at 10:53 am, Sheepdog said:

    Guess we been Ukrained…

    Wonder how long before Trump has a broomstick rammed up his…

    Such theater! Who needs holly weird?

  12. On November 7, 2020 at 12:07 pm, scott s. said:

    How did they determine the 6k vote tabulating error? It would seem the options are re-run the batch on the same system and get different results or use an alternative tabulation method such as hand-count.

    The computer program is part of a system which includes electro-mechanical devices such as a scanner or direct input device.

    One problem in the US is that myriad elections and questions are placed on a single ballot. So typically the smallest unit of aggregation (precinct) has a unique ballot. It would be much easier if the only election was for president. I get that states want to save money by grouping all elections on the same day/ballot, also that more elections increases turnout but the cost is increased complexity in the ballot drafting and tabulation.

    In my state the county clerk is responsible for matching submitted ballots against the roll of registered voters by using a computer system that matches a bar code to voting precinct and then does some sort of optical scan and matching of signature against an example maintained with the voter roll. I don’t know how they validate that system.

    I agree that “glitch” is a term invented by reporters who lack the knowledge and skill to analyze systems. (My background is in system and software engineering management for naval weapons systems including flight and ordnance safety as well as nuclear weapons surety).

  13. On November 7, 2020 at 1:28 pm, FiftycalTX said:

    The only logical explanation for this situation is that the software was DESIGNED to shift a certain number of Trump votes to Biden. And this software is used by 47 other counties in Michigan?? And how many other states use this software? If this same program did the same thing 48 times in Michigan, that would be 288000 votes. How many votes did Biden “win” by? Is the same software used in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin?

  14. On November 7, 2020 at 1:53 pm, Ned2 said:

    “The only logical explanation for this situation is that the software was DESIGNED to shift a certain number of (candidate 1) votes to (candidate 2).”
    I agree.

    I would say the entire program has been used successfully, wouldn’t you? Probably since it’s inception.

  15. On November 7, 2020 at 2:31 pm, dad29 said:

    UPDATE: The software provider is Dominion. The stuff is used in multiple jurisdictions, most pertinent to this: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada (usually, not always, purchased at the county level.)

    LOTS of bugs in the stuff, reported at RedState.

  16. On November 7, 2020 at 4:20 pm, Ned2 said:

    I suppose we’ll know on December 14th whether the Republican legislatures have the balls to actually do their job and appoint their own electors.
    Hope and pray they do.

  17. On November 8, 2020 at 12:02 am, Jaque said:

    The entire election was “glitched” by communists masquerading as democrats. The glitches started when Donald Trump formed an organization to run for President of the United States. The entire Obama regime was behind the master glitch against Trump we know as Russiagate, and every glitch thereafter. Trump has managed to outsmart his enemies at every turn. I believe he will outsmart them again.

    There is a story circulating about the Trump administration using a Blockchain Watermark printed on each official ballot. While the logistics of such an operation seems near impossible considering the thousands of county election departments in the US each with different ballots its not an impossible task. Could the Trump administration have pulled it off ? I sure hope so


  18. On November 8, 2020 at 4:53 am, George_Banner said:

    Been working in IT for decades.
    There’s no “glitch”
    This is enemy action.

    The commie bastards have the evil nature, the declared intent and the simple ability because it is not all that difficult to make a computer say that “2+2=biden”
    Any amateur can do it in a couple of seconds.
    An expert can do it in several languages and in ways hard to prove.

    IT can be a blight on rights and freedom.
    Add the “cashless society” and if you were a Trump supporter you’ll find more “glitches” than functioning when you try to use your “money”
    – – – – – –
    Make it quick cause it WILL be censored.
    “Pallets Full Of Ballots” song:

    Just a reminder, in 1917, November 7, begun 78 years of soviet communism.
    The soviets killed more people than the nazis. Way more.
    As a peculiar side note the people the soviets killed, the nazis didn’t even consider people so they would have applauded.
    “nazi”, after all, means “national socialist”
    The “socialist” bit should give people a tip.
    In a November 7, begun 78 years of soviet communism.

    How many years of Jhamerykan communism are struggling to be borne on this November?
    “What rough beast, its hour come round at last” is struggling to be borne on this November?

    Why “Jhamerykan”?
    Because of the “fundamental change” they’ll bring.
    Anybody who thinks that America is going to remain after The Steal is deluding himself.
    (If you are interested on the calendar of soviet beginnings:
    linked by [https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/])

    Not being a mathematician my understanding is limited but this does sound interesting as real science (not leftist “science”) usually is:
    “Joe Biden’s votes violate Benford’s Law (Mathematics)”

    “The centre cannot hold”
    Neither can the right, apparently.

  19. On November 8, 2020 at 8:00 am, Frank Clarke said:

    With apologies to all those whose experience in IT goes deeper than mine:

    I have been programming, mostly mainframe, since 1971 until retirement a few years back. When I first heard of these “errors” a few years back, my first thought was that some PFCSK wrote the program to handle one party’s voting, then copied the code wholesale to do the next party and the next and the next before going back and adjusting the fine details of the code to handle each similar-but-different case. That’s where the “error” creeps in: the code doesn’t get adjusted completely or correctly either accidentally or deliberately. If quality control isn’t a very high priority, that error can go unnoticed.

    — Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
    — Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but the third time is enemy action

    (PFCSK: Pimply-faced computer science kid)

  20. On November 8, 2020 at 9:03 am, Ned2 said:

    And all of a sudden, there’s no more Covid-19. Weird.

  21. On November 8, 2020 at 9:40 am, Dirt said:

    Excellent overview. I like it when you write good insightful stuff.

    Donald Trump didn’t get ripped off, We The People Did. ANYbody on our side using Twitter or Face book, or watching Fox, or the other propagandist sites, is distain to fail.

    Only useful thing they MAY offer is target location data. Their lips are moving, your being lied to, manipulated.

    Petes masthead is perfect today.


  22. On November 8, 2020 at 9:44 am, Charl Schuld said:

    Just a “slight math correction.
    6,000 votes for A that should have been counted for B is in fact a 12,000 vote swing in said county.
    Just a thought on how that pans out at every location where these “glitchy” voting machines were used

  23. On November 8, 2020 at 11:20 am, The One said:

    The rank n file Republicans will do nothing of course. The Trump team will fight in the courts. If they win at the SCOTUS level the left will cry foul and riot. The RNC will capitulate like they always do. The Left had this all schemed out way ahead of time. Rush to call the election before the fouls are found out and scream louder to silence critics. They stole the election and they aren’t giving it back without a fight. Now we must decide if civil war is the proper response but the most likely outcome is America loses regardless. Get ready for the mandates and lock downs. Get ready for global depression and financial reset. This is going to be the wildest ride yet…

  24. On November 8, 2020 at 11:53 am, Sabre22 said:

    This same software is being used by ALL the So-Called Swing states EXCEPT Pennsylvania. Which is probably why they are NOT allowing republican POLL Watchers into the counting areas. ALL these states NEED to be HAND-COUNTED

  25. On November 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm, WalkingHorse said:

    Just as in politics, there are no coincidences in software, nor are there glitches. Putting the votes for Candidate A in the right bucket is a fundamental use case for any vote tabulation software. Any software that fails this test doesn’t make it out of the development shop, unless the software is also intended to facilitate voter fraud. The software made it into “production” in multiple jurisdictions spanning several states. It was designed to facilitate fraud. Q.E.D.

  26. On November 8, 2020 at 12:27 pm, WalkingHorse said:

    Watching this video is “How to destroy your confidence in the voting system in one hour”. Short story: the system is NOT isolated from the internet, it is interconnected and NOT dispersed as advertised, there are multiple vulnerabilities that allow vote manipulation at multiple points in the system. Catching vote alteration almost has to be done in real time, and the presenter shows it happening in an actual election case. He also addresses what we’ve seen happening in the opening stages of the 2020 presidential election vote.

    Our voting system is a critical national security issue, no longer a risk. Failure to do deal with this issue will seal our doom.

    I do not know the presenter in this video, so I have no vested interest in offering this for your examination. But my 40+ years developing, designing, and evaluating complex systems tells me this person knows whereof he speaks. What he offers ring all too true. Read ’em and weep.


  27. On November 8, 2020 at 1:07 pm, George_Banner said:

    @Frank Clarke

    You got it backwards.

    The correct version is: “Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by malice.”
    “I made a mistake because I’m stupid” is usually the excuse of evil when it is found out.
    And we KNOW that demonKKKrats are evil.
    It’s malice. All malice. And nothing but malice.
    And then there is communist malice and that is the epitome of malice.
    The Steal is communist malice.

    And then, if you want to live, once is enemy action and you take the necessary measures.
    If it was anything else you can stand down.

  28. On November 8, 2020 at 1:48 pm, John said:

    Dominion software tied to Hillary and Nancy.

  29. On November 8, 2020 at 1:54 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    @Walking Horse,

    Yes. Right. Somebody gets my point. Code writers (and BTW, I’m going to point out one more time that this code is easy) don’t drop code out there without testing, even if it is to compile it, run a small benchmark problem on ten or so new lines of code, and then move on.


    It doesn’t work that way. No one copy/pastes ten lines of code from this part of the program and drops it into another part of the program without a benchmark problem.

    Besides, this would all be part of the same algorithm. Any one who would put these pieces into different algorithms doesn’t understand proper coding architecture.

  30. On November 8, 2020 at 3:12 pm, scott s. said:

    per Detroit Free Press reporting what happened is:

    There was a change in the ballot for some precincts. This required updating the Dominion software in the voting machines last month. The county clerk directed that the machines in the affected precincts be updated but did not update the machines in unaffected precincts.

    A separate computer program is used to input the tabulated data from each machine and consolidate at the county level for transmission to the Sec of State. The error was that the program could not consolidate machine vote totals when there was different software versions on the voting machines. The reporting suggested the machine totals were stored in a “spreadsheet-like” database. I don’t have any experience with spreadsheets in a production environment, but from what I’ve read they are notorious for being hard to debug and maintain. IMHO it would be better to use a proper relational database that can rely on verifiable SQL queries to extract data for consolidation or other purposes. My guess is that the software was making assumption that a certain column or row corresponded to a specific candidate and race/question.

    This gets back to my earlier comment that having multiple races/questions in a single “election” greatly increases the potential for errors. My bluer than blue state wants to implement “ranked preference voting” which is several orders of magnitude more complex (and hence error-prone). The idea is loved by political scientists who in their ivory towers don’t have to worry about validating the computer systems needed to make this work.

    But I guess we have appointed the Associate Press as the final arbiter of our elections, so no need to worry.

  31. On November 8, 2020 at 3:53 pm, Herschel Smith said:


    That’s interesting. IDK whether to trust that report or not.

    In the mean time, it could have been a relational database as you suggest, or simply a .csv file. There are ways to do this.

    As for multiple votes on a single ballot, there’s something called “arrays” as I’m sure you’re aware.

    No explanation that makes this out to be a difficult coding job is worth my time to explain away.

    Readers who defend the difficulty of this should go take a course in programming.

  32. On November 8, 2020 at 4:30 pm, June J said:

    Election/voting software should be open source and freely available for examination.

  33. On November 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm, JoeFour said:

    Allegations by Sidney Powell of massive fraud (primarily involving Dominion Voting). (For those who may not know: Sidney Powell is Michael Flynn’s attorney and now also part of Trump’s legal team.)


  34. On November 8, 2020 at 4:59 pm, mikrat said:

    “On November 8, 2020 at 12:02 am, Jaque said:
    -“The entire election was “glitched” by communists masquerading as democrats.”
    True, but they are not masquerading as democrats, they are democrats (as well as many RINO’s).

    -“The glitches started when Donald Trump formed an organization to run for President of the United States. ”
    The “Glitches” started in 1789 or shortly thereafter, Not with Trump.

    -“The entire Obama regime was behind the master glitch against Trump we know as Russiagate, and every glitch thereafter. …”
    The Obama Regime is controlled by many we never hear about. Obama is a Puppet – just like Bush 1 & 2, Clinton, Ford, Nixon, Regan, Johnson, etc, etc, etc.

  35. On November 8, 2020 at 6:41 pm, Uncle Al said:

    @June J said:

    Election/voting software should be open source and freely available for examination.

    This is the best comment in the thread, hands down.

  36. On November 8, 2020 at 7:04 pm, Steady Steve said:

    I was a member of the International Union of Elevator Constructors before my current profession. Elevators are built with overlapping safety systems so that deliberate sabotage is required to get an elevator to fall. The “glitch” story is just not credible as the miscounted votes were about one third of the total. Folks are getting the corruption shoved right in their faces, good and hard. Trust in our institutions is crumbling, as it should.
    Happy Fourth Turning everyone.

  37. On November 8, 2020 at 8:51 pm, steelguidewire said:

    “The only logical explanation for this situation is that the software was DESIGNED to shift a certain number of Trump votes to Biden. And this software is used by 47 other counties in Michigan?? And how many other states use this software? If this same program did the same thing 48 times in Michigan, that would be 288000 votes. How many votes did Biden “win” by? Is the same software used in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin?”

    Not necessarily. With remote access to a system, it’s possible to change program behavior on the fly by manipulating assembly language loaded in memory. Changing something like this would be trivial for someone who knew the system and had root level access.

    When the machine is unplugged/rebooted, that modified code disappears and it loads the original code.

    Who do we know that specializes in this type of stuff and has a lot of skin in the game?

  38. On November 8, 2020 at 8:52 pm, Dan said:

    I would be shocked if this went from straight from coder to production. the coder would have ran some test data through it, then it would have went to QA for thorough testing. Either this logic error is a feature, or they’re guilty of criminal negligence.

    I also wouldn’t be too hard on the county official. It is not his job to be a coder or understand the lingo. The results did not make sense to him, so he did her manual recount. Then he corrected the total and reported the problem. he did a good job and it would be unreasonable to ask anything more.

  39. On November 9, 2020 at 12:29 pm, The Dark Lord said:

    bingo … software doesn’t behave differently at 8 am and 9 am … unless its coded to do that … the data being delivered to the software was “adjusted” before it was loaded … that was the “glitch” and that was human intervention … i.e. election fraud …

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