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What to do if your vote is suppressed
October 27, 2008 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Do you know what to do if your vote is suppressed?
GOODVOTE.ORG is a group of volunteers from the technology community and blogosphere who simply want the will of the voters to be reflected in the result of the 2008 election. Our only purpose is to make sure that when legitimate voters are challenged they know who to turn to for help.
posted by mecran01 (36 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Obama's Voter Protection Center
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:09 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's a good link. Goodvote has the advantage of being slightly easier to remember, I suppose.
posted by mecran01 at 2:22 PM on October 27, 2008


Sweet. Knowing this exists makes the wait a little easier.

If I do feel that this upcoming election is stolen, I intend that I will get up out of this armchair and become an activist.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:28 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


If this upcoming election is stolen, I intend on doing a hell of a lot more than becoming an activist.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:40 PM on October 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


That is my thinking too--if there is obvious and massive voter fraud then it will be time to log off and make my physical presence known. Our ability to protest in the U.S. is being slowly curtailed.
posted by mecran01 at 2:40 PM on October 27, 2008


Over 10,000 lawyers are dispatched to the polling places on Election Day to help assure that the 2008 election reflects the will of the American people.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance litigation.
posted by basicchannel at 2:50 PM on October 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


That is, it's unfortunately necessary that we should have to resort to such things.
posted by basicchannel at 2:51 PM on October 27, 2008


If the Republicans steal the vote again, I hope that what's left of the UN World Council votes to unilaterally invade.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:01 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


They won't need to, Blazecock - thank God for the 2nd Amendment.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:05 PM on October 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do you know what to do if your vote is suppressed?

I'm not positive, but I'm thinking that somehow the 2nd amendment will be involved.

[on preview] Damn you BB!
posted by quin at 3:11 PM on October 27, 2008


> They won't need to, Blazecock - thank God for the 2nd Amendment

Aren't most of the people who take advantage of this Republicans? Just sayin'.
posted by cj_ at 3:28 PM on October 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fox News: We take you now to a special report from Bill O'Rielly about a liberal website which has threatened to overthrow the government if Republican candidate John McCain wins the election.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:30 PM on October 27, 2008


I have little worr becfause if things seem less than legal, our Supreme Court will make sure justice is served.
posted by Postroad at 3:37 PM on October 27, 2008


What to do if your browser is suppressed.

I get a blank page when visiting http://goodvote.org/. I guess that's what I get for using the most prominent browser -- Microsoft IE (71.52% market share) -- out there.

Indeed, I can view the webpage via Safari (6.65% market share) and, yes, it renders in Firefox (19.46% market share).

Tip: if you're trying to assure that a majority can benefit from your web offering, design for the majority.
posted by ericb at 3:43 PM on October 27, 2008


That's a good link. Goodvote has the advantage of being slightly easier to remember, I suppose.

But more difficult to access than Obama's Voter Protection Center.
posted by ericb at 3:44 PM on October 27, 2008


Tip: if you're trying to assure that a majority can benefit from your web offering, design for the majority.

Weird. If you take a look at the source, they appear to have spent an inordinate amount of time writing for IE6, IE7 and IE8.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:45 PM on October 27, 2008


I early-voted yesterday on an ES&S iVotronic in Winston-Salem, NC. No actual problems, but god do I hate this system with a passion, especially as a person in a technical field.

First of all, they're using Dell PCs wired into a LAN to do the initial printout of your voter ID sheet. Each system was Windows XP on a domain. The LAN wires snaked across the floor to another half of the room "secured" by temporary office cube wall sections. Each PC was not in any way locked or in a cabinet, just sitting naked on the floor with the backs of the machines facing voters in a very crowded, bustling room.

After giving the poll worker my name she started typing it in. Instead of pulling up my file, she was somehow able to accidentally log out of Windows. To log back in she referenced a loose-leaf printout on her tabletop. This printout had a screen shot of the Windows XP login screen and little arrows pointing out where to type your username and password. It also clearly, in bold, printed the username and password to use.

After she got logged back in, she started up what appeared to be a crap Visual Basic/Access application to get my voter file up, which she printed on a USB laserjet on the desk. The file that printed out had barcode versions of the identifiable information as far as I could tell.

She asked me to verify it, sign, then she signed. I took this sheet to the poll worker who directed me to the ES&S iVotronic machine. She inserted her special device into the front to pull up the ballot start screen, keyed in the type of ballot, precinct, and my "voter ID" from the sheet. What the hell is this part about, exactly? Why is my vote tied to me, exactly?

I don't know what happened to the piece of paper I signed.

I proceeded through the ballot, carefully pressing only what was necessary to press, and carefully examining the sealed paper record as it was printed. I reviewed, and then committed the ballot. The summary receipt printed out a series of PDF417 barcodes. I have no idea what these contained. Nor would anyone likely question these supposed representations of my ballot data if there was ever a paper recount. They'd optically scan the barcodes and assume they represented the textual data. Yet another layer of obfuscation.

Then I waited for long enough that I was pretty sure that the firmware wasn't going to auto-void my ballot and print another one in place, or something equally disturbing, as I've seen in video demonstrations of these very machines being hacked.

Compare this to last year: Go in a room, lady peels a sticker off the page that's next to my name, attaches it to my paper ballot. I mark the ballot with a #2 pencil, feed it into an optical scanner, and it drops into a locked box.
posted by odinsdream at 3:47 PM on October 27, 2008 [23 favorites]


THE LEFT IS IN THE POCKET OF BIG VOTE AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT
posted by Damn That Television at 3:48 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


By last year I mean the last general election, of course.
posted by odinsdream at 3:49 PM on October 27, 2008


Weird. If you take a look at the source, they appear to have spent an inordinate amount of time writing for IE6, IE7 and IE8.

I've checked the website on three PC's with the most current version of IE 7 (7.0.5730.13). Nada. On my Mac/Safari -- it renders fine.
posted by ericb at 3:50 PM on October 27, 2008


I early-voted yesterday on an ES&S iVotronic in Winston-Salem, NC. No actual problems...

Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far.

ES&S Voting Machines in Tennessee Flip Votes.

ES&S Touch-Screen Votes Now Flipping in TX Too!.

ES&S Touch-Screens in SC Omit Candidates, Races on Final Voter Review Screen.

WV voting machine complaints continue.
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on October 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, isn't that awesome ericb? Those news stories were one of the reasons I probably took 10 minutes to enter my ballot.
posted by odinsdream at 4:08 PM on October 27, 2008


I just checked it on the old PC we keep around just for IE 6 testing, and I get a blank page there also.
posted by derMax at 4:09 PM on October 27, 2008


They don't want those tacky IE people voting. Just the thought of it... ugh!
posted by basicchannel at 4:37 PM on October 27, 2008


for those who prefer interactivity:

the voter suppression wiki
posted by Glibpaxman at 4:50 PM on October 27, 2008


I went to go vote on Saturday. They gave me a "voter access card." Upon inserting it into the voting machine, I was informed that I had already voted. Wonderful!

I'm pretty sure it ended up just being general incompetence by the polling administrators, and nothing actually malicious. But you can never be too sure. Why are these machines STILL around?
posted by naju at 6:32 PM on October 27, 2008


'β€œThe interesting challenge β€” the story in progress β€” is how do we coordinate our efforts,” said Jon Pincus, a former Microsoft software developer who helped create the voter suppression wiki.' - new york times (10/26/2008)

traditional media cannot keep up with real time news anymore. thus interactive efforts like youtube, wikis, message boards, and even blackberries and txts are how voter suppression must be fought.
posted by Glibpaxman at 6:52 PM on October 27, 2008


Vote flipping on video
I believe it's not an issue of votes switching from Democrat to Republican, but of the intentional placement of deliberately shoddily calibrated machines in highly Democratic areas to record incorrect votes, switching from Democrat to anything else.This gives the guilty parties a chance to pretend that the problems are just non-partisan malfunctions.
posted by damo at 7:24 PM on October 27, 2008


Those news stories were one of the reasons I probably took 10 minutes to enter my ballot.

Which in itself is a form of voter suppression: Obama voters, rightly fearing fraud, will take more time and care over their vote than McCain voters. This will probably lead, over the day of the election, to a skewed voter proportion. It would be interesting to include "at what times did you enter and leave the booth (or alternatively, how long do you think you were in the booth)?" in the exit polls.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:24 PM on October 27, 2008


Vote early! That's the best way to prevent any suppression efforts. The more time to identify and solve/fight these efforts, the better. Consider yourselves beta testers, early adopters, the first to see the movie, just VOTE NOW!

Yes, I voted last Saturday if you wanna know.
posted by msalt at 12:20 AM on October 28, 2008


I get a blank page when visiting http://goodvote.org/ (on IE7)


No problem here, running a plain vanilla IE7 Dell Vista laptop.
posted by msalt at 12:39 AM on October 28, 2008


Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far.

ES&S Voting Machines in Tennessee Flip Votes.

ES&S Touch-Screen Votes Now Flipping in TX Too!.

ES&S Touch-Screens in SC Omit Candidates, Races on Final Voter Review Screen.

WV voting machine complaints continue.


There's a huge potential for abuse with these E-voting machines, but the danger is not from the machine switching the vote on your touchscreen from D to R, anecdotal evidence notwithstanding. The danger lies in what's happening in the aggregation, or in what's under the hood with these (horribly designed, inexcusably insecure) voting systems. People are SO nervous about having their vote not count properly (with good reason, granted) that I think they're looking for fraud where there's just shitty UI design. These machines are not "switching votes". They're just not. Because people are so sensitive to this issue, any errant touch among tens of thousands of voters accidentally getting the wrong box displayed on screen (which is correctable, BTW) is going to be interpreted as malice instead of (user) error. In reality, if they were "switching votes", they'd do it internally and secretly, and not make it look like they're putting checkmarks next to the wrong boxes, because putting checkmarks in the wrong places makes people run screaming to the media.

Touchscreens are notoriously bad at this kind of thing, which is why you design a forgiving UI with big buttons, and make your application transparent. When the ATM thinks you hit 'savings' instead of 'checking,' you mutter something under your breath about idiotic programmers, then you hit 'cancel' and try again; you don't suspect malice on the part of the bank.

This bothers me only in that it's a red herring: the uproar about votes changing on touchscreens is distracting us from where where the shit could really be hitting the fan. And when the CEO of the biggest producer of E-voting machines publicly pledged to deliver Ohio to the GOP in 2004, I'd contend that we should keep every eye available on what his voting apparatuses are doing on election day.
posted by Mayor West at 5:24 AM on October 28, 2008


DEM: Help! Help! I'm being suppressed!
GOP: Bloody peasant!
posted by Kabanos at 6:41 AM on October 28, 2008


lady peels a sticker off the page that's next to my name, attaches it to my paper ballot

Did North Carolina forget about the secret part of the secret ballot?
posted by oaf at 1:50 PM on October 28, 2008


See, I don't understand on touchscreens why they don't use a more than half the area of the screen. Who designed the UI for these, some guy's nephew that "knows" HTML?

I'm going to try and vote tomorrow, along with my mother, in Williamson County, TX. This talk is going to be fun to have with her on the ride over. Interesting enough, in this county early voting is done on the Voltronic machines, but on Nov 4th it's supposed to be paper ballets. WTF?
posted by Talanvor at 7:59 PM on October 28, 2008


oaf, in the paper system I described the sticker was generic. More like a dot next to my name. The main purpose I believe was to indicate that I had already voted, so that if someone else came in and claimed to be me, there would be no sticker next to the name to peel.

The problem I have with the electronic equivalent of the sticker is that there is far too much data in the system to tag each and every ballot back to an individual voter. This data is only a JOIN away, and it's very disturbing.
posted by odinsdream at 8:13 PM on October 28, 2008


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