June 20, 2010
On the June 17 edition of “Countdown”, Keith Olbermann interviewed The Nation magazine’s Senior Editor, Chris Hays, in a segment about the Democratic Senate Primary in South Carolina. In the course of the conversation Hays pointed out that the only reason there has any attention paid to the surprise victory of Alvin Greene is because he had no money.
If you think about it, there is an implicit assumption in most discussions about Greene that money brings success in politics and most commentators seem bemused by election results where the candidate with the most campaign cash actually lost.
This is not a case of black vs white, as in complexion, but a matter of green, as in cash. It is disheartening to realize that the green of campaign dollars has so clouded our electoral system that we automatically assume that a candidate without access to gobs of cash will surely lose. Read the rest of this entry »
June 19, 2010
This post is not about the rock group of that was famous for innovative virtuoso guitar work and political activism, although they might well join the the chorus of outraged denunciation of the unreliable paperless voting machines used in South Carolina.
Just how bad could the voting machines in SC be?
Answer: really, really, really bad. Flaky. Unreliable. Not ready for prime time. In fact, it’s laughable that a country with our technological knowhow would be relying on these machines to count our votes. Read the rest of this entry »
June 15, 2010
No, this isn’t about your choice at the supermarket checkstand. Nor is this post about the controversial ID law in AZ – that would be a whole different post. Instead this is about the recent Democratic Senate primary in South Carolina, where all the ingredients for an election disaster were present.
First, take two obscure candidates in a statewide race. Yes, one the of the candidates (Rawls) had previously run for office but he was not widely known across the Palmetto state – he at least ran something of a campaign – website, rallies, e-mails, mailings. But the other candidate, come-from-nowhere victor (Greene), mounted no discernible campaign and still cruised to victory with 60 per cent of the vote. How likely is a scenario where an unemployed vet who lives with his Dad and faces felony obscenity charges emerge as the election winner. No wonder lots of folks are scratching their heads and looking for answers.
Next ingredient in this election controversy: paperless touchscreen voting machines. South Carolina uses the ES&S iVotronic DREs without a paper trail. Read the rest of this entry »
October 19, 2009
Yup, you read that right. Diebold scanners are picky about which color ink is used to mark a ballot — sometimes just can not read blue ink. Also, sometimes just can not read marks made with number two pencil. Everyone who has ever filled out a scantron sheet for an SAT or GRE or any other standardized test must be scratching your head by now.
Yes, I know, I know … the official instructions from Diebold say to use a number two pencil or a pen with blue or black ink (just like those standardized test directions). But you can’t believe the official stuff because it doesn’t always work. Read the rest of this entry »
September 7, 2009
In honor of the planned union of the number one and number two voting machine companies (ES&S and Diebold), I give you the Voting Machine Song … a lyrical message from the Diebold-Halliburton Fund for the Promotion of Democracy, sung by Marilyn Bennett, Doug Smith, Nkemjika Ofodile and James Garland.
June 7, 2009
Those who have been watching the long (seven months and counting!) slog toward a final resolution the Coleman-Franken election contest will not be amazed to discover that the same slow methodical approach will be applied to Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) in Minneapolis. There won’t be any cutting corners for Minnesotans, unlike what was done elsewhere (Cary, NC and Aspen, CO spring to mind here!). http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/05/21/irv_voting/ Read the rest of this entry »
April 27, 2009
According to a recent report in the Irish Times, the Irish Republic has decided to dump its 7,500 paperless electronic voting machines and retain paper ballots. There had been a proposal to add a Voter Verified Audit Trail (VVAT) to the paperless NEDAP machines but Irish Minister of the Environment John Gormley decided against that path, citing costs. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0423/breaking37.htm
“It is clear from consideration of the Report of the Commission on Electronic Voting that significant additional costs would arise to advance electronic voting in Ireland. This decision has been taken to avoid such costs, especially at a time of more challenging economic conditions.”
But Gormley stated that he felt that the decision was also justified by other considerations:
“The public appeared to be broadly satisfied with the present paper-based system and that this had to be recognised.
“The assurance of public confidence in the democratic system is of paramount importance and it is vital to bring clarity to the present situation.” Read the rest of this entry »
November 28, 2008
It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.
(Tom Stoppard, British playwright, 1972)
If the counting of the vote lies at the heart of democracy then vote-counting conducted in secret on proprietary software is a dagger threatening to still that heartbeat and undermine the integrity of the process. Among those who have looked into the abyss of secret vote-counting software is California Secretary of State Debra Bowen when she set up a task force to study the software used in her state’s elections. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2008
Here is the latest from my friends at Verified Voting:
We need your help today to make sure that Congress does not reverse the nation’s progress toward voter-verified paper ballots. It is not an exaggeration to say this could be one of the most important actions you ever take on the issue of verified voting. After you take action, please forward this message to your friends.
Here is what’s happening. This Wednesday, the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on S.3212, a bill aimed at providing independent verification of ballots cast on electronic voting machines. That’s a laudable goal, but S.3212 gets it wrong – very wrong. Read the rest of this entry »
June 18, 2008
Every election cycle in the U.S. there are votes that never get counted –but not because of computer glitches on paperless voting machines, as if often assumed. The computer glitches happen and no paper trail is there to give silent evidence of the missing votes. Much energy has been devoted to replacing paperless voting machines with systems that have a voter verified paper record without also considering the other source of missing votes.
What am I talking about? What other type of missing vote is there besides the ones lost inside the electronic world of computerized voting machines? The answer, of course is that the other type of votes that never get counted are the ones that never get cast. Tragically millions of votes are never cast in jurisdictions across America each election cycle for a wide variety of reasons –partisan dirty tricks, voter suppression, voter intimidation, purged voting rolls, misinformation campaigns targeted at certain groups of voters, or simply voting machine shortages in inner city precincts. It is these uncounted votes that never show up in the winning (or losing) margin but in close races can mean the difference between victory or defeat. Read the rest of this entry »