Dispatches from the Creation Wars

More Computer Voting Problems

What kind of problems? Oh, nothing major. Vote for a Democrat, get counted as Republican. No big deal.

Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. 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.

Gee, what could possibly go wrong? The fact is that a lot of people will push the button for their candidate and not even look at the confirmation screen. After all, you would assume that if you press the button for one candidate, the machine isn’t going to register the vote for another candidate. And it clearly could happen often enough to swing an election. This was hardly the only incident like that:

Joan Marek, 60, a Democrat from Hollywood, was also stunned to see Charlie Crist on her ballot review page after voting on Thursday. ”Am I on the voting screen again?” she wondered. “Well, this is too weird.”

Marek corrected her ballot and alerted poll workers at the Hollywood satellite courthouse, who she said told her they’d had previous problems with the same machine.

Poll workers did some work on her machine when she finished voting, Marek said. But no report was made to the Supervisor of Elections office and the machine was not removed, Cooney said…

Mauricio Raponi wanted to vote for Democrats across the board at the Lemon City Library in Miami on Thursday. But each time he hit the button next to the candidate, the Republican choice showed up. Raponi, 53, persevered until the machine worked. Then he alerted a poll worker.

This sort of thing simply cannot be tolerated. The integrity of our elections, the integrity of our entire political system, is at stake and few people seem to care. This despite reports from all around the country of problems like this and worse. And in many places, not only do election officials seem oblivious to it, they also have no way of monitoring this sort of thing:

Election officials say they aren’t aware of any serious voting issues. But in Broward County, for example, they don’t know how widespread the machine problems are because there’s no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems.

And in many places, no paper ballots to allow for a double check. Election officials who allow this sort of thing to go on should be prosecuted.

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew Dodds
    October 31, 2006

    Reminds me of an old Eastern Bloc joke..

    A man comes home from the polling station, tells his wife he voted and who he voted for. Wife panics – ‘That’s not who you are meant to vote for! They’ll take you away!’. The man realises his mistake, and quickly runs back to the voting station to try and change his vote. After explaining the problem to the officials, they smile and say – ‘It’s OK, we’ve already changed it for you!’.

    Or (attributed to Idi Amin) –

    ‘You won the election. But we won the count’.

  2. #2 slpage
    October 31, 2006

    And it is surely just a coincidence that the voting ‘errors’ all seem to be going one way…

  3. #3 Phobos
    October 31, 2006

    The potential for hacking and the lack of a paper trail to conduct audits/recounts is just asking for trouble. Voting, which is the very basis of our government, should be kept simple and verifiable by all. If (or should I say, “when”) there is a problem, how many of us will be able to check the voting system code? Never mind the need for programming skills, from what I understand the program is proprietary and, therefore, not available for public review.

  4. #4 RickD
    October 31, 2006

    I really am waiting to hear a story about how a voter kept trying to vote for a Republican but kept being shown a Democrat on the confirmation screen. Somehow that never happens…

  5. #5 FishyFred
    October 31, 2006

    I really am waiting to hear a story about how a voter kept trying to vote for a Republican but kept being shown a Democrat on the confirmation screen. Somehow that never happens…

    It’s the liberal media trying to paint an unfair picture of the voting problems!

  6. #6 Pieter B
    October 31, 2006

    The FDA should teach the FEC something about “validated systems,” which are used in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing. The basic platform has to be designed and tested to show that it is reliable and any changes have to be documented and tested.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Validation_%28drug_manufacture%29

  7. #7 AndyS
    October 31, 2006

    I worked in the area of secure computing for many years. Everybody in that field agrees that computer voting machines are the worst way to go. What’s really ironic is that they offer NO advantages. Paper ballots marked with felt pen and counted with a scanner work fine, are inexpensive, provide an easy way to validate counts, etc.

  8. #8 Gerry L
    October 31, 2006

    AndyS said: “What’s really ironic is that they offer NO advantages.”

    Ahhh. But they do offer someone an advantage: a big fat contract to pocket lots of taxpayer dollars.

  9. #9 ebohlman
    November 1, 2006

    Gerry: not only do they make a nice source of corporate welfare for the manufacturers, they also put election officials (generally county-level) in charge of bigger budgets, something bureaucrats are generally fond of. IIRC, county election offices are split close to 50/50 along party lines in the US, so the support for those infernal things is bipartisan.

  10. #10 skblllzzzz
    November 1, 2006

    In Holland we also have problems with voring machines. Besides the lack of a paper trail, the machines of one manufacturer produce a lot of EM radiation, through which one can determine from a considerable distance who votes for what. These machines have now been rejected for use during the elections in November. But there are not enough machines to replace the faulty ones, so quite a number of municipalities will have to go back to paper votes.

    It was an action committee of computer security analists and computer hackers that got the ball rolling on this. The Dutch governament tried to look the other way at first, now they are showing how they are taking strong and decisive action, diverting attention away from the question how the machines could have been manufactured faultily in the first place…..

  11. #11 skblllzzzz
    November 1, 2006

    Damn typo: “voting machines”, not “voring machines” ;-).

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