December 4, 2009
There was no mention of the GOP’s favorite boogeymen, ACORN and the Black Panthers in a recently released report on the Bush Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Instead, the report focused on the Bush administration’s disinclination to actively pursue the recommendations of career DOJ attorneys. Take a look at this one egregious example: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/us/politics/03rights.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
When the Bush administration ran the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, career lawyers wanted to look into accusations that officials in one state had illegally intimidated blacks during a voter-fraud investigation.
But division supervisors refused to “approve further contact with state authorities on this matter,” according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office auditing the activities of the division from 2001 to 2007. Read the rest of this entry »
November 29, 2009
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 29, 2009
One of the many dubious claims about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is that it will produce a consensus winner. Not always true, as has been found in studies of both Aspen, CO and Burlington, VT. The candidate with the most first and second place support does not always win. This is because it is possible to hurt your preferred candidate by turning out too many supporters in his behalf. How is this possible? Just take a look at this explanatory video to see how this could happen (and has indeed happened in real elections in various places across the U.S.)
Why is this more democratic? Why would voters prefer the kind of result described in this video to a straightforward up-or-down vote?
October 23, 2009
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 »
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 »
Voting is a risky business in Afghanistan. During the period when Afghanis cast their ballots more than two months ago the Taliban launched grenade attacks at polling places. They also punished voters who sported the ink-stained finger that is proof of voting in Afghanistan by amputating that finger.
This Taliban campaign was so effective that turnout was a below 40 percent nationally and as low as five percent in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Read the rest of this entry »
September 7, 2009
Oh, the anguish of electronic voting… did that vote actually count? Did the dancing electrons inside that voting machine actually record that vote? Or did that vote disappear into the maw of the voting machine never to be seen again? Only Diebold and ES&S know for sure — and they’re not telling.
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.
August 28, 2009
Amidst all the eulogies for the “liberal lion” of the Senate — Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts — one important part of his legacy is often mentioned in passing, if it gets mentioned at all. That legacy is Senator Kennedy’s role in expanding and protecting voting rights for all Americans.
Because of Ted Kennedy’s work, millions of American voters are able to participate in the most basic function of a citizen in a democracy: they are able to make their voices heard at the ballot box and vote for the candidate of their choosing. Read the rest of this entry »
August 27, 2009
Recently, Hawaii held a first-in-nation all-digital election for local district races using telephone and internet technologies. The company providing the technological solutions hailed the election as a great success. In reality, voter participation plummeted to a fraction of the previous levels. If this was supposed to encourage more voters to cast a ballot by making it more convenient, it was an epic fail. The drop in voter participation was a dramatic 83 percent — let me say this again — epic fail . http://www.kitv.com/politics/19573770/detail.html