Future Tense

That Voting Machine Problem in Utah That Upset Trump? It Was a Copy-Paste Error.

People cast their ballots in the election on Tuesday in Utah.

George Frey/Getty Images

A problem with memory cards affected more than three-quarters of voting machines in Washington County, Utah, this morning. The problem was resolved completely “shortly after noon” (local time) according to a statement from the county’s election board, but that didn’t stop Donald Trump from tweeting about it—and mistakenly condemning the entire nation’s voting machines in the process.

As my colleague Rachael Larimore points out, CNN “is not reporting any such thing.”

The tweet came from an Android, the device that Donald Trump is believed to use, leading to speculation that the Republican nominee had been re-permitted access to this Twitter account after his campaign aides “finally wrested away” control of the account two days ago.

The problem in Utah was one of many problems with voting machines all over the country. As I wrote earlier, this is normal, expected, and usually due to dated technology or old machines. In this case, the blame rests with good ol’ “human error,” according to Kim Hafen, the clerk-auditor for Washington County. He told me that when the memory card information was transferred form the first batch of cards to the other cards, it was “cut and pasted” instead of “copied and pasted,” meaning the information was deleted from the cards as it was transferred. Paper ballots were used until the cards could be re-programmed. Though the issue was ultimately resolved, Hafen called it a “self-inflicted wound.” Here is Hafen’s statement:

I want to apologize to anyone who had a longer wait this morning to vote, to anyone who had a poor voting experience or had unexpected heartburn because a number of our voting machines were not working when the polls opened this morning. We had an error in programming the “memory cards”. That error originated in our office. Once the error was discovered, we went about re-programming the memory cards in question and those corrected cards started to be delivered at about 8:30 am—the final corrected cards were delivered shortly after noon. We had number of people from various county departments help in getting those corrected cards delivered. I appreciate their help. Again, I apologize for what happened.

Again, voting is an imperfect human process and there will be mistakes. It doesn’t mean there is anything nefarious at work, no matter what Twitter’s prodigal son, Donald J. Trump, wants to imply. And we can say with certainty that Utah officials are not reporting voting machine problems across entire country.

See more of Slate’s election coverage.