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But each time he hit the button next to the candidate, the Republican choice showed up.
October 30, 2006 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist. ...A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said. ... Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it's not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly. ... Early voting problems already in Florida.
posted by amberglow (107 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have yet to see any reports anywhere of machines incorrectly registering votes in favor of the Democratic candidates--anyone have examples, or is this always a mistake that favors the GOP? and why is that?
posted by amberglow at 3:50 PM on October 30, 2006


Because, they'll say, only the DUMBocrats are so stupid that they can't use the machines right!
posted by interrobang at 3:56 PM on October 30, 2006


Welcome to the fresh hell that is Florida election operations, each election cycle. All these irregularities will again be baseless when the vote is certified in a few days.
posted by paulsc at 4:06 PM on October 30, 2006


Man, touchscreens just suck. ATM use buttons for a reason.
posted by smackfu at 4:12 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Please, oh jeezus fucking christ, go back to paper. This is pure unadulterated shite.
posted by wilful at 4:13 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


"ATM use buttons for a reason"

Huh. I've never actually seen an ATM with buttons - they've all been touch screens in my experience.
posted by Bugbread at 4:15 PM on October 30, 2006


If you're not with us, well, you're with us anyway. Welcome, citizen!
posted by hal9k at 4:19 PM on October 30, 2006 [2 favorites]


I hope this doesn't affect the midterms. Going to war with Iraq would be a horrendous mistake and it looks like the current crop of GOPers will do whatever Dear Leader asks.
posted by MikeKD at 4:25 PM on October 30, 2006



I hope this doesn't affect the midterms. Going to war with Iraq would be a horrendous mistake and it looks like the current crop of GOPers will do whatever Dear Leader asks.


Voices from the past, eerie
posted by Cycloptichorn at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2006


I used to work for a point-of-sale terminal manufacturer...every once in awhile the touchscreens on these glorified DOS / WIN95-based cash registers would get quite out of sync and it became necessary to go through a very trivial and quick calibration process. It's shameful that in some situations, these voting machines aren't evaluated and maintained to the degree that a Taco Bell cash register might be.

I don't see anything sinister here, for the most sinsister conspiratorial vote-rigging is going to occur behind the scenes. E-voting makes that super-easy, of course, but here's hoping our vote really isn't stolen literally in front of our faces.
posted by lordaych at 4:28 PM on October 30, 2006


"the screens are out of sync"? That's ripe. That makes no fucking sense whatsoever- it sounds like classic colorectal smoke exhalation. OR an election official that has absolutely no idea how things work.
posted by notsnot at 4:28 PM on October 30, 2006


I've never actually seen an ATM with buttons

I've never seen one with a touchscreen.

Are you sure you're not thinking 'touchpad'? Touchscreens would get gross and unreadable very quickly.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:28 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ahh...you're in Tokyo with all the clean gadget freaks :) That explains it.

(I'm envious)
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:30 PM on October 30, 2006


...that was meant for the election official, not lordaych.
posted by notsnot at 4:31 PM on October 30, 2006


You are all so negative! I think it is great that our government tries to ensure that we all vote correctly whether we want to or not!
posted by Iron Rat at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2006


That's exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear --

A machine outputs the exact opposite of the vote you entered, in a country that has, for the last 6 years wondered how badly screwed we've been by election fraud?

Yeah. I'd call that an understatement.
posted by quin at 4:37 PM on October 30, 2006


"the screens are out of sync"?

On a touch-screen display, the display is a different bit of electronics than the touch-registering part. There's always a calibration routine where it puts an x in each corner of the screen that you touch, so that they are synced up. You have to do the same thing w/ a Palm Pilot.

It's shameful that in some situations, these voting machines aren't evaluated and maintained to the degree that a Taco Bell cash register might be.

It's mainly because Taco Bell workers use the registers every day, while the people running elections work twice a year. (And they're old.)
posted by smackfu at 4:37 PM on October 30, 2006


The people running elections should not be the ones responsible to make the machines not run like total shit.

It's really easy. You say "hi, welcome to Democracy, citizen, please touch the circle in the top-left corner. Thanks, now touch the circle in the bottom-right. Great, now we're all set to vote. Which of the following people would you like to see as County Port Commissioner No. 7? You have, of course, a tight grasp of the policies and politics of the port commission, and you know all about the candidates. Right? Right! I'm glad you are here voting today."

Maybe I guess the snark isn't entirely necessary. It would make it more fun, though. Maybe give people headphones and it could be a guy doing a voiceover.
posted by blacklite at 4:44 PM on October 30, 2006 [3 favorites]


The touch-screen ATMs operated by Bank of America (manufactured by—wait for it—Diebold) that I've used (and used to restock with envelopes, etc.) always seem to be miscalibrated. You have to adjust your aim when you're tapping the numbers on the screen, or else your taps will register the wrong numbers. Aiming high helps, I've found. Still, it ain't like the good old days of amber or green CRTs.

That the touch screens on the voting machines aren't properly aligned doesn't sound too much like smoke-blowing to me.
posted by emelenjr at 4:49 PM on October 30, 2006


It's really easy. You say "hi, welcome to Democracy, citizen, please touch the circle in the top-left corner.

Alternatively, you say "Hi, welcome to Democracy, citizen, here's a sharpened pencil, and here are some pieces of paper. Make a mark on each piece of paper, indicating the candidate you prefer for that position, and put each piece of paper in a box on your way out. Have a nice day!"
posted by Jimbob at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2006


Unbelievable.
posted by bardic at 4:52 PM on October 30, 2006


I think everybody who complains about electronic voting problems in Florida just hates freedom.

I've been waiting for the opportunity to accuse someone of hating freedom.
posted by jayder at 4:54 PM on October 30, 2006


Apologies for my snark, the "out of sync" I wa thinking of was temporal, not spatial. Thanks for the correction.
posted by notsnot at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2006


ARRRRG. Conspiracy theorists would have less to go on if it didn't go the Republican's way EVERY SINGLE TIME there's voting "irregularities." Irregularities, my ass. Fucking Deibold and his ilk.
posted by aacheson at 5:01 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't get why there can't be a log-in code or something to reset the machine the people give you when you sign in--like a PIN only good for that vote. Does a poll worker have to manually do something to each machine after someone votes, or no? Does a voter have to end the transaction somehow? and doesn't that reset the machine?
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM on October 30, 2006


notsnot: you were right the first time. "Sync" is short for "synchronization." Note the "chron", which means "time." The word he's looking for is probably "alignment." The calibration should only have to be done once, and the results stored in non-volatile memory. If the screen or touch surface is replaced, or physically moved (or knocked) out of alignment, it would need to be recalibrated.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:13 PM on October 30, 2006


I just took a peek at my local supervisor of elections site (Pinellas, FL) and couldn't find a single thing about who to contact should there be a problem at the polls. How convenient.
posted by photoslob at 5:27 PM on October 30, 2006


in a country that has, for the last 6 years wondered how badly screwed we've been by election fraud?

Wait...it's been 6 years! And it's still fubared to hell?!
posted by MikeKD at 5:29 PM on October 30, 2006


Thanks for posting this. It reminded me that I requested an absentee paper ballot to vote in Florida, and it's sitting on my desk--I'm going to go home and fill it out right now.
posted by Prospero at 5:29 PM on October 30, 2006


Jimbob: I did not realize this, being Canadian, but I have been in this strange country to the south for a while. You may already be aware of this, but, Americans have, generally, 20 or 25 different things to vote on each time they go to the polls, every two years.

Actually, maybe I've underestimated. This[PDF] is the midterm ballot for Seattle residents. It has 47 different positions, initiatives, amendments, and propositions on it.

I had an old history book—I still do, somewhere—about the early days of Canada, and there were various leaders and politicians who had to deal with the issues of the moment. Just like the issues of today: relations with the US, and English-French internal strife. They would write about (small-r) "republicanism", and how it would be ridiculous to adopt, "we must keep it out of our new country," because, why, at this rate, we'll be voting for every single judge and barrister and port commissioner and decision and it would just be ridiculous. Members of parliament are there to make the decisions that the everyday man doesn't have the time or the energy to find out about and make a decision on.

Of course, it was hyperbole, then. I don't think they ever expected anything like this to ever happen.

And then there are the primaries.
posted by blacklite at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2006


Vote early, vote often. It won't matter. This election will go the way Hugo Chavez wants it to go!
posted by ericb at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2006


In related news -- How To Steal an Election With a Diebold Machine.
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on October 30, 2006


And by the way, if I remember correctly (though I don't have time to check this), you can request a paper ballot as long as there are seven days left before the election. Consider doing so tomorrow if you vote in Florida.
posted by Prospero at 5:32 PM on October 30, 2006


You may already be aware of this, but, Americans have, generally, 20 or 25 different things to vote on each time they go to the polls, every two years.

I did have an idea of that, but if you want democracy, you've got to be willing to pay for it, I figure. If you want people to vote on 47 different things, why the objection to splashing out some money and making sure those 47 decisions are counted correctly and accurately? As I've said here before, our elections are complicated my preferential voting; one ballot may have to be handled and counted and sorted multiple times before a result is reached, but it's still done on paper, and we still usually have the result the night of the election. Australian Senate ballots can have around 100 candidates, and voters can number them all 1 to 100 if they so choose. With a pencil and paper.

I do understand the difficulty, but with something this important, you can't just say "that's too hard, let's take the easy way out".
posted by Jimbob at 5:39 PM on October 30, 2006


We only have federal elections every two years. At least where I live (and I suspect most places in the US), we have an election every year. Sometimes more than once a year if there are special elections or oddball local elections.
posted by jlub at 5:44 PM on October 30, 2006


I do understand the difficulty, but with something this important, you can't just say "that's too hard, let's take the easy way out".

Why not? Taking the half-assed approach is the American way!

|*~~
|~~~
|
|
posted by MikeKD at 5:47 PM on October 30, 2006


That's a good point, I always forget how ridiculous Australian election systems are. I once saw a clip of some Australian elections coverage, and I seem to remember this gigantic, uncomprehensible-to-me board behind the broadcast desk with every race and how it was going with all the current votes in.

Alright, then, I'm out of excuses. Between the gerrymandering and the television lies that are soaked up so readily and the broken machines and the hanging chads and the threats of terrorism if you vote the wrong way and the 47 checkboxes 40 of which no one could possibly care about I'm sure and the electoral college system and the total bullshit voter-confusion tactics I hear about occasionally, I'm surprised they even bother. It says good things about human nature, I guess, that there are still 40% of Americans that give it a good ol' try.
posted by blacklite at 5:47 PM on October 30, 2006


Utterly shocking.

America is in serious trouble. The sooner the United Kingdom invades and spreads freedom and democracy, the better.
posted by fire&wings at 5:51 PM on October 30, 2006 [3 favorites]


Ericb, I was just about to post that Hugo Chavez link. It's much more substantiated than the typical "[lefty/Islamic] radicals did it!" fingerpointing our administration's gotten so good at, though still pretty tenuous-feeling to me.
posted by soviet sleepover at 5:51 PM on October 30, 2006


Optical scanners, pencil mark paper ballots. Cheap AND fast, paper trail, easy to read, no fucking calibrations, hacking, palm pilot wielding, voter registration stealing, power goes out? no big deal, no software to steal... etc etc etc. Why do they need to reinvent the wheel in 50 different States. Just asinine. The Feds need to take over and standardize federal elections, period. if the States want to hold State and local elections by some different means no big deal, drop the colored ball in the right jar, whatever. This is not a hard problem to fix.
posted by edgeways at 6:01 PM on October 30, 2006


still pretty tenuous-feeling to me

Exactly. It's still a bit odd, however, that -- like in the uproar over the Dubai Ports deal in which foreign ownership/oversight was an issue -- something so fundamental as the mechanics of voting in our own democracy ends up in part reliant on a company owned by a foreign enterprise.
posted by ericb at 6:03 PM on October 30, 2006


Ericb, I was just about to post that Hugo Chavez link. It's much more substantiated than the typical "[lefty/Islamic] radicals did it!" fingerpointing our administration's gotten so good at, though still pretty tenuous-feeling to me.
Call me when Hugo Chavez tells Harry Reid, "We'll deliver Kansas."
posted by verb at 6:05 PM on October 30, 2006


Now that I've seen an actual ballot, I understand why the US system is irrevocably broken. This sort of thing is simply retarded.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on October 30, 2006


If you're not with us, well, you're with us anyway. Welcome, citizen!

Friendly fascism? I like the shine of your jackboots!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 PM on October 30, 2006


BTW, this is what a lever voting machine ballot looks like. Every box has a lever in it. (All 88 of them.)
posted by smackfu at 6:18 PM on October 30, 2006


A Fucking Cross On A Fucking Piece Of Paper

How hard is that ? Damn , maybe I figure it out ! Americans are trying to look even more idiot then usual, so they will attract Chinese capitals in hope they will exploit the dumb yanks.
posted by elpapacito at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2006


"A Fucking Cross On A Fucking Piece Of Paper

How hard is that ?"


Well, if you check out the sample ballot that five fresh fish linked to above, you'll see that it's a bit more involved than a single cross, but, yeah, even 48 crosses on 48 pieces of paper is better than Diebold.
posted by Bugbread at 6:37 PM on October 30, 2006


five fresh fish, what's so retarded about that (apart from the "instructions to absentee voters", and the FPP system)?
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 PM on October 30, 2006


Here's your thought for the day:

IF the corporate owners have NO WAY to influence how the machines count the votes, then why would the Right be getting nervous about Venezuelans buying a voting-machine company?

This bullshit isn't going to stop until the Diebold machines are completely p4wnd and Linus Torvald is declared the winner of an election.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:49 PM on October 30, 2006


five fresh fish, what's so retarded about that (apart from the "instructions to absentee voters", and the FPP system)?
This is pretty much what a ballot looks like in fff's country. We mark one X with a pencil, and put it in a cardboard box.
posted by fish tick at 6:52 PM on October 30, 2006


That's a good point, I always forget how ridiculous Australian election systems are.

Hang on.

You guys (that is, Yanks) use electronic machines which are susceptible to fraud, user interference and technical failure coupled with a process that can result in a candidate with the larger popular vote NOT taking power

...and you call OUR electoral system ridiculous? Strewth.
posted by cheaily at 7:05 PM on October 30, 2006


I voted early two weeks ago, via absentee ballot, but right there at the elections bureau office, and it was a breeze. If I recall correctly, the ballot listed seven offices and one referendum. For each, you simply checked off the appropriate box with a pencil. The whole process, including registering for the absentee ballot, took 15 minutes. I may vote that way from now on.
posted by gsteff at 7:07 PM on October 30, 2006


Aren't there historical reasons why paper ballots aren't used? Like they were the original "electronic voting machine" in fraud terms.
posted by smackfu at 7:13 PM on October 30, 2006


MetaFilter: This bullshit isn't going to stop
posted by ZachsMind at 7:22 PM on October 30, 2006


looks like the checksum routine encountered a rogue "goto" and threw an exception...
posted by quonsar at 7:30 PM on October 30, 2006


Personally, I like the King County ballot, although it usually makes me feel guilty about not knowing enough about the election. But it's my fault that I'm not entirely engaged, not the ballot's, and when I vote I create a physical record that could be reviewed in the event of mechanical failure somewhere else in the voting process. I see the pencil on the paper as I make my ovals. All I have to do is pay attention, and I can leave happy that I voted as I intended.

I cannot believe that the people of Florida are happy to trust the most mission-critical civic function to machines that require a 15-step process to calibrate, and which leave them no way to be sure that their vote was counted properly.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:33 PM on October 30, 2006


We mark one X with a pencil, and put it in a cardboard box.

OK, so the American ballot isn't any more complicated, it just covers more races.

All the complaints about these ballot systems seem to come down to "give me convenience or give me death". If filling a ballot, even as complex as the apparently insufferable Australian senate ballot (which I personally fill in the long way), is too hard, then perhaps rigged black boxes and an oligarchic plutocracy really are the way to go.
posted by pompomtom at 7:34 PM on October 30, 2006


This picture more or less says it all.

Also, those USian ballots are very complicated. But they need not take forever to count, and, the races of most interest could be counted first. No reason why the ballots couldnt be hand counted for President/Senator/congressman first pass through, and then votes for dogcatcher and deputy sherriff could be counted next day.
posted by Rumple at 7:36 PM on October 30, 2006


the apparently insufferable Australian senate ballot (which I personally fill in the long way)

We must be the only two. I just enjoy putting the gun-totin jesus-lovin nazi party number 89 and then working backwards.
posted by Jimbob at 7:42 PM on October 30, 2006


The correct way is: Machine printed optical scanned paper ballots. All the touch screen machine does is make it easy to fill out the paper ballot legibly. The voter reviews the paper, then it is scanned in an optical scanner. Recounts can be done by scanner or by hand. Hacked machines can't affect the paper ballots.

NPR discussion. start at 2:30 mark.

Wired News article
posted by jjj606 at 8:02 PM on October 30, 2006



the apparently insufferable Australian senate ballot (which I personally fill in the long way)

We must be the only two. I just enjoy putting the gun-totin jesus-lovin nazi party number 89 and then working backwards.


That's three of us. I tend to inch towards the middle from the ends. Who do I hate most? Oh that would be Fred Nile. Who do I hate second-most? Hmmm, the LaRouchians or the Socialist Alliance? OK, now who do I like? Ah bugger, no one again. Who do I hate fourth least?

Here's a good research paper [.pdf]by the AEC on electoral systems BTW. It wasn't the one I was looking for, which looked at technology and rejected all the fancy schmancy stuff as unreliable and unnecessary, but it's still a good read.
posted by wilful at 8:24 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Being able to vote against Fred Nile is the only reason I would want to live in Sydney.
posted by Jimbob at 8:26 PM on October 30, 2006


We get to vote? Damn, I've been standing in the wrong bread line.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 8:59 PM on October 30, 2006


So in Australia, you can vote against people? That is so cool! I want that.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:01 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


I remember the ballot being 50% wider than the booth the last time I voted in Queensland. I miss seeing Nigel Freemarijuana and Fred "The family court is unfairly biased against fathers and took my children away" Smith (yes, someone to that extent really was on the ballot in 96).

If you want boring try living in Canberra... no matter how you vote you're going to end up with one seat going to the ALP and the other to the Libs. There's also nothing quite like having Howard able to overturn local laws at a whim to make you feel like local government is a sham.

The interesting thing about voting here, however, is we're the only place in Australia to use electronic voting (largely because the voting system is too complex to count by hand). The software is even open-source (or was a few years back).
posted by blender at 9:03 PM on October 30, 2006


Well... not so much vote against as number last preferentially. There's absolutely no way your vote could go to whomever you number last. If Fred Nile is on the ballot, you want to do this.

The nice thing about preferential voting is that you can throw a bone to the third parties even though (in the lower house) they have no chance. It mostly boils down to which of the two major parties you number first.

In the senate it's a little different and is some wacky combination of preferential and proportional (ie you're voting for either 6 or 12 (in a state) or 2 (in a territory) senators at once). You get to cross one box above the line (which votes how the party wants), or number a hundred or so below (which votes how you want).
posted by blender at 9:08 PM on October 30, 2006


I think the best reform to any voting system would be Jello Biafra's suggestion - a "None Of The Above" option, and if it wins, the election has to be re-run with new candidates.
posted by Jimbob at 9:27 PM on October 30, 2006


Around this time every election year, I get kind of bummed out about my paper absentee ballot, because I like going to the polls, and I always feel like a tool for not having one of those I VOTED stickers on Election Day.

Then things like this come up and I am not so sad.

On the other hand, as regards absentee ballots, in 2004 my boyfriend's college roommate requested one. He's from Florida (Miami, to be exact), and the ballot had to go to Atlanta. It didn't make it. Perhaps coincidentally, his father is a major donor to the Democratic Party. I'd like to think it was a coincidence, but these things always seem to happen to Dems. Anyways, I guess when your dad can afford to throw $1 million at the DNC, you can also afford to fly home for the day to vote.
posted by anjamu at 10:19 PM on October 30, 2006


waitwaitwait...Don't say "you Yanks". Where I live ballots are on heavy paper and are set up like this:

==....==>1st guy
==....==>2nd guy

We use a felt tip pen to complete the arrow and the ballot is fed into an OCR.

BUT. The ballots in the next county west look remarkably like the Seattle area ballots - you blacken a circle next your choice.
posted by rsandy7420 at 11:25 PM on October 30, 2006


Vote For Pedro. Or Pedro.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:14 AM on October 31, 2006


We really need massive voter fraud THIS election. That will give the people 2 years to badger congress into FIXING this mess, otherwise we throw our entire system of government in the dumper. Look, we knew about this mess in 2000, and what was done...nothing, or maybe something- giving a fat contract to a partisan-owned business ( the evil "D"). The 2004 election was basically fraud, and it only took a little monkey-business in Ohio to assure Herr Leader remained in his highchair. I've tried to tell Move-On, True Majority, and DFA that THIS is the most important issue they should be addressing, because without addressing the vote counting issue, all their campaigning and grass roots efforts will be for naught. Putting a bunch of poll-workers in charge of this kind of technology when they have trouble using a cell phone, and many of them don't even own a computer, is more than scary to me- it's just plain dumb. Only in Amerika!
posted by GreyFoxVT at 1:07 AM on October 31, 2006


See, the cool thing about automated voting systems is that they can do so much more than just tally your vote.

The voter takes long between each key-press? She's probably old and/or dim, so she won't notice if the machine changes her vote. Same if the voter has shaky hands.

The voter takes too long between each key-press? Skip a few screens so we can get this democracy thing underway already.
posted by spazzm at 1:38 AM on October 31, 2006


What I especially love about the US is that a federal election for a particular district or state can include dozens of counties, and since the choice of voting system is left to the county (and sometimes even the precinct), you get a tally that includes optical scan, touchscreen and throwing darts at a paper target marked with candidates' names.

Hence the bollocksing of the equal protection argument in 2000.

The story of the Fisher Space Pen and its Soviet equivalent might be an urban myth, but this isn't. Trouble is, after a year-long campaign, the public (and most of all, the media) want the results announced in three hours. And you end up with technowanked instatallies and months in court. It's hilarious for foreigners to watch, but ultimately the joke's on all of us.
posted by holgate at 2:51 AM on October 31, 2006


We need to have massive voter fraud, and then we need to have the guilty parties caught immediately. Finally, we need their heads on fucking pikes.

This would send a strong message to future would-be subverters of the democratic process.
posted by mullingitover at 3:01 AM on October 31, 2006


Though it's surely much more entertaining to chalk this up to any number of various and sundry conspiracies, the reality is that this is a usability issue, plain and simple. The machines have not been adequately designed and certainly have not been properly tested in heavy usage conditions.
posted by gsh at 5:21 AM on October 31, 2006


gsh: The machines have not been adequately designed and certainly have not been properly tested in heavy usage conditions.

Then why are they being used by "The Greatest Democracy in The World?" Why, after these problems came to light, were decertified machines in California recertified by Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson?

GreyFoxVT: I've tried to tell Move-On, True Majority, and DFA that THIS is the most important issue they should be addressing, because without addressing the vote counting issue, all their campaigning and grass roots efforts will be for naught.

Exactly.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:32 AM on October 31, 2006


It would be very interesting to see some Democratic voter fraud. I think people might actually implode out of confusion.
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on October 31, 2006


No, the slightest hint of Democratic voter fraud will be spun into a full-on equivocation and nothing will be done.

If Democrats anywhere pull anything remotely noticable, they will lose the vote security issue entirely. Razis are already trying to tie Chavez to some podunk voting machine company, in the most blatant projection.

There is no attack possible on genuine integrity, or so I'd like to think.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:38 AM on October 31, 2006


On the other hand, as regards absentee ballots, in 2004 my boyfriend's college roommate requested one. He's from Florida (Miami, to be exact), and the ballot had to go to Atlanta. It didn't make it.

I grew up in a predominantly Republican county in Pennsylvania, and I was registered as a Democrat. When I was a student at Brown University, I requested an absentee ballot, but the ballot did not arrive until the day before Election Day. Since the ballot would have been invalid if it had not arrived by Election Day, I decided to give my county a big F-you by sending my absentee ballot Federal Express "same day" service. I can say that I helped get Harris Wofford elected, but unfortunately Wofford got unseated by Senator "Man on Dog" Santorum in 1994.
posted by jonp72 at 6:45 AM on October 31, 2006


I don't get why there can't be a log-in code or something to reset the machine the people give you when you sign in--like a PIN only good for that vote. Does a poll worker have to manually do something to each machine after someone votes, or no? Does a voter have to end the transaction somehow? and doesn't that reset the machine?
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM PST on October 30
This is exactly what is done where I vote (the per-voter PIN). And it has convinced me that in addition to the machines being untrustworthy, there is no longer a secret ballot. In principle, at least, and maybe in practice for all I know, the PIN can be easily matched with the person's sign-in information.
Though it's surely much more entertaining to chalk this up to any number of various and sundry conspiracies, the reality is that this is a usability issue, plain and simple. The machines have not been adequately designed and certainly have not been properly tested in heavy usage conditions.
posted by gsh at 1:21 PM GMT on October 31
If you really mean to imply that if only the interface worked right and was user-friendly, there would be no problem, you're totally missing the larger issue. What democracy requires is publicly verifiable elections. As long as computers are used instead of paper, there can be no public verification of integrity by non-expert observers from multiple parties. And without that, there is no way any citizen can be rationally confident that the supposed results that are announced have anything to do with the voters' decisions.
posted by jam_pony at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2006


Pardon my relative lack of ignorance regarding the American electoral system, but does one actually have to register as a member of a political party in order to be allowed to vote? If so, that just boggles my fucking mind...does that not make a complete mockery of the whole "secret ballot" concept, since you'd assume that a registered Democrat would 9 times out of 10 vote for the Democratic candidate, etc?
posted by Sullenshady at 7:20 AM on October 31, 2006


This will (continue, and continue, and continue to) not go well.
posted by chicobangs at 7:28 AM on October 31, 2006


Opensecrets.org is still offline. Project Vote Smart and Smart Voter both use Opensecrets for campaign finance data. At least Smart Voter also links to Political Money Line. The official FEC database is moderately usable as well.
posted by ryanrs at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2006


Sullenshady: You have to register as a member of a party to vote in a primary (choosing candidates for a party), but not for a general election.
posted by jam_pony at 7:40 AM on October 31, 2006


Sullenshady wrote: does one actually have to register as a member of a political party in order to be allowed to vote?

Yes, you have to register to vote. However, you can choose "none" for party affiliation. Your party affiliation makes no difference for the general election (the one we're discussing). But the general election is preceded by a "primary election". The primary election is used to determine who will be the party candidate during the general election. In the primary, there is a different ballot for each party, plus one for "no party". You get the ballot that matches your registration.

For example, several Democrats may wish to run for US Senator in California. These candidates will run against one another during the primary. Only the winning Democrat will advance to the general election.

Political parties restrict who can vote in the primary in order to keep non-members from manipulating the results. For example, a Democrat voter might try to manipulate the Republican primary by voting for some nazi wingnut. If the wingnut won the primary, then the Republicans would be stuck with an unelectable candidate in general election.

California tried to have open primaries a while back. It only lasted for one election or so. They had to stop after the various political parties sued and won. I think it's a freedom of association issue.
posted by ryanrs at 7:56 AM on October 31, 2006


ryanrs: Thanks for the explanation...registering as a Democrat/Republican/whatever for a primary election is certainly a reasonable requirement, as per your example.

Also, I see that I wrote "relative lack of ignorance" in my original comment...someone must have spiked my Halloween candy early this year
posted by Sullenshady at 8:03 AM on October 31, 2006


I like the King County ballot, although it usually makes me feel guilty about not knowing enough about the election.

There's still time to change that. (You'll need this, too.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:19 AM on October 31, 2006


In the Commonwealth of Virginia, we do not register party affiliations, and primaries are open to anyone.
posted by candyland at 8:23 AM on October 31, 2006




Can someone please explain to me why the entire banking system of the world can be done electronically but no one can program a voting system that gives anonymity and proof of vote?

I mean, most people probably care more about whether a bank accurately tallies their deposits and withdrawals than about whether they even vote at all-- but we easily trust ATM's, use them near to daily, do all manner of complex transactions and that would seem to me to be a far greater programming challenge.
posted by Maias at 9:32 AM on October 31, 2006


Both systems tend to screw the poor.
posted by ryanrs at 9:57 AM on October 31, 2006


...where are our plans to fight on November 8th?
Who is leading the charge to make sure that when the cry of 'fraud' is raised, as it most certainly will be, we will have the team to fight. Sure, the DNC and others will issue statements "we will fight to make sure every vote is counted." But are there teams of lawyers at the ready? Have major Democratic donors been asked to provide planes? Are the funds raised and ready to be spent?
No. ...

posted by amberglow at 10:02 AM on October 31, 2006


candyland wrote: In the Commonwealth of Virginia, we do not register party affiliations, and primaries are open to anyone.

Really? Can someone vote for candidates in both the Democratic and the Republican primaries? Some states let you choose a party at the polling place, but you still only get to vote for one candidate.

The one year California had open primaries, you could vote for one Democratas well as one Republican. I voted for the Democrat I wanted to win and the Republican I thought would lose.
posted by ryanrs at 10:21 AM on October 31, 2006


"Can someone please explain to me why the entire banking system of the world can be done electronically but no one can program a voting system that gives anonymity and proof of vote?"

"I mean, most people probably care more about whether a bank accurately tallies their deposits and withdrawals than about whether they even vote at all"

...asked and answered
posted by GreyFoxVT at 10:25 AM on October 31, 2006


Ryanrs--

Nope, you declare an affiliation when you show up to vote on primary day. And you have to vote down the line for the primary candidate too, so no choosing the Democratic House candidate and the Republican presidential candidate, either.
posted by thecaddy at 10:29 AM on October 31, 2006


Since the best we can do (apparently) is 98.5% accuracy in vote counts, the American Statistical Association supports wide-scale random audits.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2006


"Can someone please explain to me why the entire banking system of the world can be done electronically but no one can program a voting system that gives anonymity and proof of vote?"

Because voting does not directly involve money. The ATM makers/and banks are directly responsible if the machines lose cash, but who is responsible if machines lose votes? Tie poor machine performance with hard cash and you might see a reliable e-voting machine, say $200 for each miscounted vote? In tests and practice after the machine leaves the factory.
posted by edgeways at 1:08 PM on October 31, 2006


HBO doc "Hacking Democracy" airs tonight (Thurs)--Diebold tries to stop it.
posted by amberglow at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2006


and this from Bradblog too: ... "Just push the yellow button and you can vote as many times as you want," Tom Courbat, an Election Integrity advocate from Riverside County, California informed The BRAD BLOG tonight. ...

It seems there's a little yellow button on the back of every touch-screen computer made by Sequoia Voting Systems, that allows any voter, or poll worker, or precinct inspector to set the system into "Manual Mode" allowing them to cast as many votes as they want. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2006


And in Texas, the same problem, again favoring GOP candidates only:

... Friday night, KFDM reported about people who had cast straight Democratic ticket ballots, but the touch-screen machines indicated they had voted a straight Republican ticket.
Some of those voters including Lamar University professor, Dr. Bruce Drury, believe the problem is a programming error.
Saturday, KFDM spoke to another voter who says it's not just happening with straight ticket voting, he says it's happening on individual races as well, Jerry Stopher told us when he voted for a Democrat, the Republican's name was highlighted.
Stopher said, "There's something in these machines, in this equipment, that's showing Republican votes when you vote for Democrats, and I know Ms. Guidry's a nice lady, and she's working hard, but her theory that my fingernail was somehow over the Republican button is just unrealistic, my fingernail was not. The equipment is not working properly as far as I can tell."
Jefferson county clerk Carolyn Guidry says her office has checked the calibration of the machines and found no problems. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:50 AM on November 2, 2006


You folk are fucked.

Take to the streets.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:45 PM on November 2, 2006


The touch-screen ATMs operated by Bank of America (manufactured by—wait for it—Diebold) that I've used (and used to restock with envelopes, etc.) always seem to be miscalibrated...

I live in Florida, use Bank of America and their ATMs use a combination of touch-screen and actual buttons. When I make a deposit I can choose to use the touch screen to enter my PIN, deposit amount, etc OR I can choose to use actual buttons. Either way, I've never had a problem with the touch-screen at an ATM.

What I'm genuinely interested in knowing is whatever happened to the old lever voting system. I remember in high school the county's SOE brought several voting booths to the school and as part of our civics class we were given a demonstration of how to properly use the machine and then we were all required to "vote" using the machine...all presumably so that as voting citizens we would know how to vote and understand the process. I have NEVER actually used this type of machine to vote in election.

Until the past couple of elections (regardless of what county OR state I was living in at the time), I've always voted by filling in the bubble next to the name of the candidate I wished to vote for. It seemed like a reasonable enough system to me. The ballots are then fed through an optical scanner and votes tallied....I'm assuming the same concept as when you take a standardized test in high school, or in college when you either have a lazy professor or an enormous class and you take your test my filling in the "bubbles" on scantron sheets...they're then fed through a machine that scores them. Why is this system no longer viable?

It has only been in the past couple of elections that I've voted any other way. These touch-screen, electronic voting "booths" may seem like progress by I really do walk away wondering if my vote will really be counted or lost by some unknown glitch in the system. And I am definitely not a conspiracy theorist.
posted by crockettc at 9:13 PM on November 2, 2006


You know all of this might matter if we actually had people to vote for. All I do anymore is vote against someone.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:25 PM on November 2, 2006



What I'm genuinely interested in knowing is whatever happened to the old lever voting system.


crockettc, here in NYC we've only ever had the old lever machines (in use since the 60s). I and millions of others have never voted using anything else.
posted by amberglow at 10:49 PM on November 2, 2006


i think, crockettc, that the bubble system might not be disabled-accessible enough.
posted by amberglow at 10:50 PM on November 2, 2006


I always wanted to vote with the levers. When I was a kid, they had a little booth set up at the polling places for kids to try out and cast fake votes. I thought they were neat. But by the time I was 18 they were using punch cards here. (And now they use optical scanners.)
posted by litlnemo at 2:07 AM on November 3, 2006


What's worse -- Losing the secrecy of the ballot or the integrity of the ballot? Most people know how I'd vote, but nobody knows if my vote was counted.
posted by VulcanMike at 3:44 PM on November 3, 2006


We still use the levers in Connecticut. But I think that's changing, since they aren't allowed under the "Help America Vote" act. In particular, they are bad for people with disabilities, and they don't have a paper record. Just a counter.

(Plus, they're really big and they have to store them somewhere and transport them every election day and I'm sure it's a royal pain-in-the-ass.)
posted by smackfu at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2006


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