January 7, 2008
“Can You Count on Voting Machines?” is the question posed by Clive Thompson in his cover article in this week’s New York Times Magazine. The answer, of course, is a resounding “No” due to flawed design, buggy software and poor quality control in the manufacture of these machines, as Thompson ably demonstrates. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/magazine/06Vote-t.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin
Thompson’s solid article is a timely reminder on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary that the nation’s election system is still broken. The curtain was pulled back in Florida 2000 to reveal the sorry state of U.S. elections and, despite the efforts of activists and politicians, there is not as much progress as one would hope. Some states like Florida are making great strides toward transparent paper-based systems, while others like Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia are still struggling to ditch paperless voting machines.
However, there are a few areas of omission that need to be filled in and a few bits of mis-information that need to be corrected. Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2007
Debunking Bev’s tissue of factoids and insinuendo
I just received a fundraising appeal from Black Box Voting (Bev Harris’ 501(c)(3) organization) that left me scratching my head. So much of the information contained in the one-pager mailed to my home wrapped around a donation envelope was not based upon well-researched facts. Instead it was a farrago on insinuation and hyperbole designed to get raise alarms enough to folks to open their wallets to BBV.
Here is one passage that is a mix of information and mis-information:
Oregon does have some unique issues with its voting system. Oregon’s mail-in votes will be counted by ES&S computerized voting machines. It was an ES&S mail-in vote counting scanner (like those used to count Oregon mail-in votes) that was caught miscounting votes in Broward County, Florida in the 2004 presidential election. ES&S scanners were also caught miscounting in Orange County, Fla.
Let’s do a line-by-line analysis of the above paragraph and see where Bev gets it wrong. Read the rest of this entry »
November 6, 2007
Until Greg Palast wrote about voter caging in Florida during the 2000 election cycle, it was a practice that was under the radar of voting rights activists. Reporting for the BBC Palast exposed this ugly voter suppression tool in 2004 in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. That is not to suggest that voter caging did not exist elsewhere, just that the best documentation on this practice exists for those three states.
Now John Kerry, the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004, who lost Ohio due to voter caging and other dirty voter suppression tricks, has stepped forward as lead sponsor on a bill to outlaw voter caging. Joining Kerry in co-sponsoring the Caging Prohibition Act are 12 other Democratic Senators including Presidential candidates Dodd, Obama and Clinton.
One might recall a recent incident where a college student was tasered after asking John Kerry whether he had read Greg Palast’s book “Armed Madhouse.” Lost in the discussion of whether the student should have been tasered, was Kerry’s answer to the student’s question: the junior senator from Massachusetts said that he had indeed read the book. Based on his introduction of this latest bill to ban voter caging, it would appear that Kerry decided to take action on what he learned from Palast’s book. Read the rest of this entry »
October 24, 2007
Voters in Maryland want to fund a switch to paper ballots by more than two to one, according to a poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. This is an interesting result since Maryland was the first state to switch to paperless DRE’s and therefore voters in that state have the most experience with having their votes counted on non-auditable non-recountable less-than-transparent computers (although the Director of Elections in MD seems to be unaware that a machine that runs the Windows operating system like the Diebold voting machines used in her state are really computers). Now with a 95 percent confidence level and a 3.5 percent margin of error the views of Marylanders are known: dump the Diebold boat anchors and buy optical scan machines. Then the voters will be able to fill out their own ballot using pen an paper and verify their selections before putting it in the ballot box. You can find the survey results in the attached Word doc.Maryland Poll Report
Maryland will be following the lead of Florida (notorious for hanging, pregnant and dangling chads in 2000) , with recently moved to replace their DRE’s with optical scan systems under the leadership of Republican Governor Charlie Crist. This is a bi-partisan movement toward paper since Democrat O’Malley is the resident of the statehouse in Maryland. Read the rest of this entry »