June 20, 2010

The Color of Money

Posted in Election reform, Elections, Fair Elections Now Act, paper ballots, politics, South Carolina primary, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 12:01 am by bluebanshee

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

Rage Against the Machines

Posted in Election reform, Elections, ES&S, paper ballots, politics, voter verified paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , at 5:42 pm by bluebanshee

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

Paper, Please!

Posted in Election reform, Elections, ES&S, paper ballots, politics, Rush Holt, South Carolina primary, voter verified paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , at 3:09 pm by bluebanshee

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 »

December 11, 2009

FCC Comments re Internet Voting

Posted in Election reform, Elections, FCC, internet voting, paper ballots, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 6:28 pm by bluebanshee

Yesterday was the deadline to submit comments to the FCC regarding  the use of the internet for voting as well as other broadband issues.  The context was a nationwide push to extend broadband access to under-served areas of the country, an effort similar in scope to the rural electrification program of the 1930’s and ’40’s.  It will take a major infusion of cash to build out this infrastructure.

So the FCC asked for public comment.   And, boy, did they get a virtual earful!  As of today there are 917 filings posted online. Read the rest of this entry »

November 29, 2009

Just 4 votes …

Posted in election recounts, Elections, paper ballots, voting tagged , , at 9:57 pm by bluebanshee

If just two voters had voted “no” instead of “yes” … or if four “yes” voters had  decided not to vote at all in the recall election, Ann Samuelson might still have her job as District 5  Commissioner of Clatsop County, Oregon.

Instead she lost the citizen-driven recall and was removed from office.  The final tally was 1013 “yes” and 1009 “no” votes.  There were three undervotes in this race, where voters chose not to express an opinion on Samuelson’s recall.  There were no undervotes in the other recall election on the Oct. 27, 2009 ballot.

This election clearly demonstrates the importance of each and every vote — and also shows why paper ballots are crucial in such close elections.

The four-vote margin triggered an automatic hand recount of the paper ballots .  The  original machine tally was conducted on the ES&S M-650 optical scanner. That machine tally was verified by the hand count of the paper ballots and certified on November 10, 2009. The certified results of the recount  are posted on the County Clerk’s website: http://www.co.clatsop.or.us/Assets/Dept_2/PDF/Recount%20Canvass%20of%20Votes%2011-10-09.pdf

Samuelson’s colleague Jeff Hazen easily survived the Oct. 27 recall election with 1251 voting “no”and 978 “yes”. [Source: http://www.co.clatsop.or.us/Assets/Dept_2/PDF/Final%20Official%20Report%2010-27-09.pdf%5D

The hot-button issue that triggered the citizen recall effort was the commissioners’ vote in favor of a controversial siting of a LNG terminal at Bradwood Landing near the mouth of the Columbia River.  The commissioners voted to approve the LNG siting despite a previous 67% “no” vote on a county-wide referendum on LNG related pipelines in parks — the county commissioners were accused of ignoring widespread citizen opposition to the LNG facility siting.

There is another county commission recall election in Clatsop county  set for December 8.  This time  the target is  District 2 Commissioner Patricia Roberts.

Will this be another cliffhanger like Samuelson’s or an easy win like Hazen’s?  Only time  — and the voters — will tell.  Stay tuned.  The LNG issue evokes strong feelings among voters on both sides of the controversy.


October 23, 2009

‘The computer says so’ is not a good answer

Posted in Diebold, Elections, Humboldt county CA, paper ballots, voter verified paper ballots, voting tagged , , at 8:36 pm by bluebanshee

In Humboldt County California, Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich has not had good luck relying on her computer system(s) to give her accurate information. This has created problems.

In November 2008 she found out that the Diebold optical scan system she was using was capable of making an entire batch of counted ballots disappear into thin air without a trace … poof! No warning message … no tellltale evidence in the computer log … just poof, the batch was gone.

It turned out to be a known bug in the Diebold software that might only be avoided with special “workaround” procedures – or at least, that is what representatives of Diebold told her when she contacted them about the vanishing votes. Crnich found out about the problem because of a post-election audit conducted by local activists – not because of any notification from Diebold.

So Crnich did what a conscientious election official might do – she decided to switch to a new vendor and spent recent months getting her brand new system from Hart InterCivic ready for this November’s election. Read the rest of this entry »

July 4, 2009

New questions about Iran’s election

Posted in Elections, Iran presidential election, paper ballots, voting tagged , , , at 3:33 pm by bluebanshee

Aspects of the Iran election remind me of a TV commercial for men’s pants. There are several variations but the basic storyline concerns some guy who is shown going through a variety of spills and disasters only to return home to the question: “Where have those pants been?”

While the pants are unscathed the guy appears disheveled and somewhat worse for the wear, the pants are free of stains and wrinkles. The sales pitch is that one should prefer pants that stay crisp and clean no matter what.

But what does the Dockers commercial have to do with the Iran election, you might wonder. The answer is simple — photos of paper ballots being recounted have been shown on Iranian TV. But the pictures just raise new questions about the integrity of Iran’s electoral process. The question that must be asked: “Where have these ballots been?” Read the rest of this entry »

June 21, 2009

Will 4th time be the charm for Holt’s bill?

Posted in election audits, Election reform, Elections, paper ballots, politics, voting tagged , , , , at 9:44 pm by bluebanshee

After months of behind-the-scenes discussions Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has  introduced the latest incarnation of  his Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility bill.

Beginning in 2003 in the aftermath of HAVA  Holt has introduced various versions of this bill in every Congress, the latest being HR 2894.  The main provisions of the “new and improved”  VCIAA bill would move the nation toward universal voter marked paper ballots and post-election audits for Federal elections.  The bill was introduced with 75 co-sponsors, demonstrating widespread support in the House. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s official: More votes than voters in 50 Iran cities

Posted in Elections, Iran presidential election, paper ballots, politics, voting tagged , , , at 8:59 pm by bluebanshee

Shocking admission of election fraud from Iran’s Guardian Council:  in at least 50 cities more votes were recorded in the reported tally than there where eligible voters. They estimate that at least 3 million of the 40 million plus votes cast in Iran’s recent presidential election are impacted by this finding.  The Guardian Council published its conclusions  on the Iranian government website:  http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=98711&sectionid=351020101

The council’s Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who was speaking on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Channel 2 on Sunday, made the remarks in response to complaints filed by Mohsen Rezaei — a defeated candidate in the June 12 Presidential election.

“Statistics provided by Mohsen Rezaei in which he claims more than 100% of those eligible have cast their ballot in 170 cities are not accurate — the incident has happened in only 50 cities,” Kadkhodaei said. Read the rest of this entry »

June 7, 2009

Minneapolis Takes the ‘Instant’ Out of IRV

Posted in Elections, ES&S, IRV, paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 5:56 pm by bluebanshee

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 »

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