Florida Machine Records Votes for Wrong Candidate.
November 5, 2002 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Florida Machine Records Votes for Wrong Candidate. OK, I know Matt Drudge isn't exactly a venerated news outlet, but he is in South Florida. And he's reporting that a West Palm Beach voter called in to a South Florida radio talk show to report that when he voted for McBride this morning the machine counted his vote for Bush. After he'd tried three times, the voter said, an observing poll worker finally acknowledged that the machine would have to be reprogrammed, since earlier voters had experienced the same problem. There is no official confirmation of this problem, but calls to the same radio show two years ago evidently foreshadowed the 2000 election debacle. I'll be keeping an eye on sites like Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo as the day wears on. In the end, what should the electorate do (in addition to initiating lawsuits) if outcome-determining irregularities surface in yet another Florida election?
posted by maud (68 comments total)
 
I think Jeb Bush should be kicked out of the state on general principles. Oh, wait, that's regardless of outcome. Never mind.
posted by UnReality at 7:46 AM on November 5, 2002


Not only is Drudge not a venerated news outlet (not that there's anything wrong with that...), he has been woefully inaccurate this election season. First there were two mistaken claims of "massive voter fraud" in SD and MN plastered around his website, with both stories later turning out to be completely false. Next there were accusations that Democratic senate candidate Mark Pryor had hired an illegal alien-- accusations that, again, evaporated from his site fairly quickly.
posted by deanc at 7:59 AM on November 5, 2002


What happened to Janet Reno?
posted by scalz at 8:01 AM on November 5, 2002


In the end, what should the electorate do (in addition to initiating lawsuits) if outcome-determining irregularities surface in yet another Florida election?

Revolution, it's the ony solution. :-)
I hope the international observers down there are keeping track of this banana republic travesty and that the media will accurately report ALL the ways in which voters in Florida are disenfranchised.

May I request no jokes on Florida voters being too dumb to vote? This incident proves it's just not true and a troll of epic proportions.
posted by nofundy at 8:02 AM on November 5, 2002


err...IF this turns out to be true....
posted by nofundy at 8:03 AM on November 5, 2002


sounds like chicago's stereotype, and -- surprisingly -- worse than chicago's reality.
posted by moz at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2002


It's true that Drudge is a big-time alarmist fishing for a scandal. Chalk the link up to poor judgment, if you like. But the question remains: what are voters to do when their votes aren't counted?

It's not a new question, I know, but if there are significant irregularities in this election, after all the focus that's been concentrated on past problems, what recourse do we have, outside of the courts?
posted by maud at 8:09 AM on November 5, 2002


If there are severe problems with this election in Florida, I think we the citizens have no choice but to contest it with all of our might. I have friends that worked for both McBride and Reno in the primaries and they were absolutely outraged at the problems. The media only reported on half of the problems.

It is really time for the people of Florida to stand up and not let this become the norm. It has already gone on too long.

I am not sounding the alarm yet, but if in fact this report is true and there are the same kinds of problems... it will not be funny any longer.

BUHHHHHHH!!
posted by bmxGirl at 8:16 AM on November 5, 2002


What happened to Janet Reno?

scalz: She lost her primary to McBride.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:19 AM on November 5, 2002


Am I right in thinking that the software used in recording the votes in Florida is closed-source? And that 90,000 people illegally removed from the voter's registers have still not been added?

With all the problems of both this election and the last one, Florida's electoral system appears to this outsider to be barely adequate for a communist dictatorship.
posted by salmacis at 8:22 AM on November 5, 2002


Whether this is true or not, I am certain that there will be questions and rumors and scandals in every election that uses paperless electronic voting systems. Why? Because there's no way to audit the process. If the machines printed out a paper copy that the voter could verify and sign, then we'd have something to fall back on in case there were questions. Not only that but the voter would feel a lot better about the process. I know I would.

See Bruce Schneier's take on voting security and electronic voting systems from December 2000 for a good, well-considered perspective on the topic.
posted by daveadams at 8:24 AM on November 5, 2002


What happens when they intend to vote for Bush, does it pay off like a slot machine?
posted by thirteen at 8:25 AM on November 5, 2002


And that 90,000 people illegally removed from the voter's registers have still not been added?

I don't know about other states, but Missouri has a good system (just implemented) for addressing this problem: if there's doubt about a voter's eligibility or if the voter claims to be eligible but isn't listed, then the voter can fill out a ballot anyway, which is then marked and then after the election, those votes can be examined and the arguments can be addressed and if the voter is found to have been eligible, then the vote will count.
posted by daveadams at 8:28 AM on November 5, 2002


thirteen,

it releases the endorphins . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 8:30 AM on November 5, 2002


I'm not commenting on the validity of this news, but I heard a great quote on the Daily Show after the primaries:

"Before we bring democracy to Iraq, how about we bring it to Florida"
posted by jonah at 8:34 AM on November 5, 2002


Does anyone thing that maybe, just maybe, this is a plan by the DNC to rally Democratic voters to encourage voter turn out... If this"report" spreads you know the media will jump all over it.

Sounds like a good plan to me... I mean Gore & Co. have been down there talking to the core Democrat base about how this should be payback for 2000...

Just a thought...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:37 AM on November 5, 2002


Oh yeah, Drudge is such a tool of the DNC.

Please.
posted by Medley at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2002


Perhaps we should wait for something more than a Drudge Report self-link reporting on 2 callers to a radio talk show.

At least wait until Drudge links to an unrelated gossip column before jumping to conclusions.
posted by probablysteve at 8:42 AM on November 5, 2002


And that 90,000 people illegally removed from the voter's registers have still not been added?

According to Greg Palast, that is correct. Apparently, they're gonna get to it after this election.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:42 AM on November 5, 2002


Yeah Steve, voter turnout SUCKS!
posted by jonah at 8:44 AM on November 5, 2002


Wait, Steve... that sounds like a conspiracy theory. And you're the one who asked "Why do you do this? incredibly disrespectful to start with that crap..." and then made references to "jumping to unfounded conclutions with no reason to make them, in hope that one can use a tragic event for political gain..." a few weeks back.
posted by jragon at 8:44 AM on November 5, 2002


Medley: Oh yeah, Drudge is such a tool of the DNC.

No, Drudge is a tool of whatever is controversial.
posted by nobody_knose at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2002


The Miami Herald gave an update @ 11:20 stating that only two precincts had troubles with touch screen calibrations. A few voters were voting for McBride, but registering for Jeb. According to the article they have since switch to paper ballots while the machines are re-calibrated.

So it looks like this article was true, but not as large of an impact as it first sounded.
posted by bmxGirl at 8:54 AM on November 5, 2002


For what it's worth, this is reported to be happening in North Carolina as well.

I'd hesitate to call it conspiracy when it's more likely gross incompetence.
posted by revbrian at 8:56 AM on November 5, 2002


Medley: Drudge is a media whore like the rest, and they all are just waiting for the FL elections to get screwed up, so they can jump all over it.

jonah: No, I want everyone to vote, no matter who they vote for.

jragon: I hardly call hearsay on talk radio a "tragic event" We knew for a fact that Wellstone's plan did crash, this is on the other has is still just a rumor. Speculation is not uncalled for. Don't draw lines, where there are none.

This is not disrespectful, in fact if this is a rumor started by the DNC to mobilize the core of the party to vote, I actually think it is a brilliant move, politically speaking.

Like I said: If...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:57 AM on November 5, 2002


According to Greg Palast, that is correct. Apparently, they're gonna get to it after this election.

But didn't Florida already implement provisional ballots? At least the wrongly-removed have some recourse this time.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 AM on November 5, 2002


jonah: Yeah Steve, voter turnout SUCKS!

What really sucks is the idea that someone would want to undercut people's faith in the democratic process simply because it suited their political needs.

If there is a problem with the machines, then by all means it should be reported, investigated and fixed.

If someone wants to get out the vote, they should get it out -- but not by by spreading unfounded allegations.
posted by nobody_knose at 9:02 AM on November 5, 2002


AP news update... More Problems....
posted by bmxGirl at 9:05 AM on November 5, 2002


If the machines printed out a paper copy that the voter could verify and sign ...

... then it wouldn't be a secret ballot, would it?

I still like the Canadian system of paper ballots marked with a pencil, then counted by hand. This is not a huge job when it's done at each poll, and it would scale to US population sizes easily.
posted by maudlin at 9:14 AM on November 5, 2002


what does "BUHHH" mean?
posted by o2b at 9:23 AM on November 5, 2002


Where is Jimmy Carter when you need him? Shouldn't he be down in Florida watching these elections?
posted by MaddCutty at 9:27 AM on November 5, 2002


Why wouldn't it be a secret? You enter your vote, it prints out the results on a sheet of paper, which you then check off or initial or something (not necessarily print your name and address, obviously) to verify that the printed record matches your digital vote, and then you slip the paper form into a sealed box on the side. In case the machine screws up, there's a printed record of the actual vote. The only unique "signature" would be a a digital reference number to allow the machine record to correspond with the paper vote. ATMs print reciepts with a verification of the time and date and specifics of your actions without needing to put down specific individual account information; voting machines can easily do the same.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2002


Drudge is a tool of whatever is controversial.

More accurately, and more simply: Drudge is a tool.
posted by troybob at 9:39 AM on November 5, 2002


And you're the one who asked "Why do you do this? incredibly disrespectful to start with that crap..." and then made references to "jumping to unfounded conclutions with no reason to make them

You can't ask Steve to be consistent. He's "devil's advocate", after all. He's here to teach the "lefties" that not everybody agrees with them.

Right, Steve?
posted by matteo at 9:44 AM on November 5, 2002


OK, so the secret ballot could stay secret, although I think your ATM example is inappropriate because that receipt is designed to be tracked back to an individual account by the bank. There are no secret banking transactions.

But look what you get at the end of all this electronic voting system engineering: millions of dollars spent on a system that requires hardcopy verfification -- and a mountain of paper ballots.

If you're going to kill trees anyway, a pure paper ballot system is fast and efficient (barring the odd nutter who steals a box of ballots and throws them into a polluted lagoon).
posted by maudlin at 9:47 AM on November 5, 2002


It will be interesting to see if anybody here gets worked up about this...
posted by nobody_knose at 9:56 AM on November 5, 2002


He's here to teach the "lefties" that not everybody agrees with them.

Does anyone thing that maybe, just maybe, Steve is a plant by liberals to make conservatives look foolish by constantly posting inflammatory opinions that immediately collapse under scrutiny?

Sounds like a good plan to me ...
posted by rcade at 10:03 AM on November 5, 2002


You guys are all wrong. Electronic voting is great. MSNBC says so! If you think you're experiencing problems, then you're mistaken.

A few hours into the election and they're already calling the winner: Innovation!
posted by kfury at 10:09 AM on November 5, 2002


nobody_knose,

yep, believe it or not, some of us commies will get worked up even over voting intimidation that favors the establishment of the glorious workers' paradise. If there turns out to be anything to it.
posted by hackly_fracture at 10:13 AM on November 5, 2002


Buhhh is a term that I use when very frustrated and without any words left to say. Try it, I think you will like it!
posted by bmxGirl at 10:13 AM on November 5, 2002


The time to fix broken election laws is before election day. But, of course, neither party is too interested in doing that in this neck and neck political climate, because there is too much that can possibly be gained by the repeated cries of "Cheaters! Intimidation! Irregularities!" and "Recount! Recount! Recount!".
posted by jammer at 10:25 AM on November 5, 2002


C'mon, like no one saw this coming? Even if it's not true, the mere mention of it will probably keep many voters away from the polls. Such a pity. :(
posted by LouReedsSon at 10:26 AM on November 5, 2002


Does anyone thing that maybe, just maybe, Steve is a plant by liberals to make conservatives look foolish by constantly posting inflammatory opinions that immediately collapse under scrutiny?

You caught me... bah!

And matto, heaven for bid not every one tows your line...

But lets keep this about the FL elections, as much as I know you want to get into yet anouther pissing match...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:29 AM on November 5, 2002


Here in Alachua (north FL) they've been providing black markers to use on the ballots, so you can't change your mind as you're checking over your votes.
posted by casarkos at 10:29 AM on November 5, 2002


I still like the Canadian system of paper ballots marked with a pencil, then counted by hand. This is not a huge job when it's done at each poll, and it would scale to US population sizes easily.

It scales to population, but not to the number of offices. It's fine when you're electing your MP and MPP and some local stuff; then you probably just have observers from the various parties counting along, once.

But most American elections feature a mix of partisan and nonpartisan elections, so you'd minimally need the parties to look at every ballot, representatives of every nonpartisan-election candidate (ie judges in some states) to look at every ballot, proponents and opponents of each referendum/initiative item to look at every ballot. Add to this if the partisan-election candidates aren't willing to have party representatives look for them, which they might well not. Eww.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:33 AM on November 5, 2002


I used the new touch-screens in the Bay Area in California this morning. Very cool. However, I have to say it makes me a little nervous, as I don't see a backup plan. What happens if my little machine fries and they can't get my votes? What happens if they pull a Jeb Bush and record my vote as something other than what it is? I agree that some backup is needed. How can we trust the un-trustworthy who have not shown competence in doing their jobs to get the voting thing right?

If this really happened, even for a few voters, they should invalidate the entire Florida election and re-do it. This kind of thing should NOT be happening.
posted by aacheson at 10:40 AM on November 5, 2002


"...not every one tows your line..."

Toes. Toes the line, please.

/pedant

The "for bid" was just a typo, right?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:41 AM on November 5, 2002


The odd thing is, when you actually listen to the tape of the radio broadcast, the voter says he put in his vote for McBride and it came out as a vote for Sylvia. Weird.
posted by soyjoy at 10:47 AM on November 5, 2002


Please excuse my quick and informal typing, Mr Davis...

Very sorry
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:49 AM on November 5, 2002


Salon has an article an article today about the problems of touch-screen voting.

The key point is this: if the machine does not produce a permanent record (e.g, a punched card) that the voter can inspect to verify that their vote was accurately recorded, and then turn in as part of an audit trail, then there is absolutely no way to know that the machine has actually recorded the correct vote, and no way to reproduce the actual voting record if any machines turn out to be defective. The truth is lost forever.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:12 AM on November 5, 2002


Sounds like a good plan to me... I mean Gore & Co. have been down there talking to the core Democrat base about how this should be payback for 2000...

He must of have been to my communtiy too. Early voting had this problem around Dallas. But they didn't speak of it as one side sabatoaging by another side. The story in Dallas read to me as the machines suck, what's new? Nothing it's a story with views.

PS, I notice the folks at the polls are not as helpful as my earlier memories.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:25 AM on November 5, 2002


I used the old-fashioned punch card system in Chicago today. It remains a total nightmare, especially with regard to the judicial retention ballot. I'd take touch-screen or optical scan voting any day compared to punch cards.
posted by Durwood at 11:42 AM on November 5, 2002


they've been providing black markers to use on the ballots, so you can't change your mind as you're checking over your votes.

They gave us black markers here in Tulsa, OK also, but if we screw up, we can tear up the ballot and trade it for a new one.

The only complaints I have this election are the same ones I had in 2000: too few polling booths and poll workers who are too eager to discuss the different races despite it being illegal to do so there.

I also hate that the liquor stores are closed while the polls are open. They should hand you a shot along with your ballot and black marker.

Though I expect my choices in the three races that matter to me to lose, I'm hopeful that the cockfighting ban will pass.
posted by tolkhan at 11:43 AM on November 5, 2002


Are the liquor stores closed during polling hours in Dallas?
posted by tolkhan at 11:45 AM on November 5, 2002


Does anyone thing that maybe, just maybe, Steve is a plant by liberals to make conservatives look foolish by constantly posting inflammatory opinions that immediately collapse under scrutiny?

That was great rcade. Thanks for the laugh!!
posted by nofundy at 12:24 PM on November 5, 2002


Tolkhan, they are open for beer & liquor in Addison, which is Dallas county.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:26 PM on November 5, 2002


It will be interesting to see if anybody here gets worked up about this...

It is quite simple, and Al Gore said it best: "This is America. When votes are cast, we count them. We don't arbitrarily set them aside because it's too difficult to count them."

Isn't it interesting that DNC efforts have been towards voter education and information, while the GOP is obsessed with "policing" the vote?

Luckily, here in Mass. we didn't have chads or computers but a simple straight line.
posted by owillis at 12:43 PM on November 5, 2002


What happens if my little machine fries and they can't get my votes?

aacheson, the new machines use multiple memory stores to improve the chances that data could be retrieved if the system failed. If they can't be recovered, however, I think those votes are lost forever (as I understand it, re-votes are a no-no, because voting patterns change with knowledge of how the election unfolded). That said, I want my chads back. I have a lot more faith in manual voting systems than electronic ones; ballot designs can be improved, poll-workers can be trained, but electronic systems will always fail. [/Luddite rant]

Here a flash demo of the machines.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:47 PM on November 5, 2002


We asked for Jimmy Carter, but the Miami-Dade County Commision walked out rather than consider the idea. (See, Jimmy made that visit to Cuba, which makes him persona non grata in Miami.)

I've been working with the non-partisan community Election Reform Coalition in Miami, and we've got people at most of the polling places collecting data today, both on what goes smoothly and what is still a little rough. If anyone is interested, drop me a line and I'll forward you a copy of the coalition's final report.
posted by mkhall at 1:49 PM on November 5, 2002


Chads my Aunt Nellie. All of the physical problems with the 2000 Florida vote would be solved if the ballot cards did not have die-cut holes! A voting machine which punches new holes in uncut stock would be mechanically more expensive to build, but still cheaper and a lot stabler than this touch-screen nonsense. The machine would supply its own force to punch the hole, thereby eliminating the "dent" problem. It could furthermore be engineered to support single-choice groups, so that once a hole was punched, no other hole could be punched in that same group. You'd have no dimpled or pregnant chads, no chads falling out during the recount, etc. etc. And all the paper trail you could ask for.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:15 PM on November 5, 2002


Scantrons: It's the perfect solution!
posted by oissubke at 2:51 PM on November 5, 2002


oissubke, that's your answer to everything
posted by jonah at 2:58 PM on November 5, 2002


If the Florida vote was absolutely flawless today, and not a single voter out of the millions in Florida has a problem, the media would still find someone to bitch about how hard it was to vote. That there have been relatively few problems suggests they've made progress.

With respect to the McBride votes registering for Bush - if that was a rig, then it was a poor one. The optimal rig would have been a McBride vote, registering for Bush, WITHOUT alerting the voter. Clearly, this was a malfunction. Bush will beat McBride by at least five points anyway, since McBride showed in the debates what a clown he is.
posted by mikewas at 3:01 PM on November 5, 2002


oissubke, that's your answer to everything

Why is the sky blue? SCANTRONS!
Is there a God? SCANTRONS!
How can I get rid of this rash? SCANTRONS!!!!
posted by oissubke at 3:26 PM on November 5, 2002


Ossibuke: I voted using a scantron form here in Austin, TX today. Thought you'd be happy to hear that. :)
posted by boredomjockey at 6:58 PM on November 5, 2002


In the end, what should the electorate do (in addition to initiating lawsuits) if outcome-determining irregularities surface in yet another Florida election?

Get a rope.
posted by rushmc at 7:02 PM on November 5, 2002


Here in Japan, the design of the ballots is uniform nationwide. The candidates are listed, and you write the name of your choice on the blank line, and they are counted by hand. Discrimination against the illiterate (a shade under 1% in Japan) is really a small price to pay for accuracy. BTW, a few municipalities are allowing permanent resident foreigners to vote in local elections.
posted by planetkyoto at 10:53 PM on November 5, 2002


planet, we need uniform voting procedures nationwide but i don't hold much hope for them (a state's rights thing)
posted by amberglow at 11:09 PM on November 5, 2002


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