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 »

October 19, 2009

Wow! Diebold scanners are picky about ink colors on ballots

Posted in Diebold, Elections, voting, voting machine testing, voting machines tagged , , , at 10:44 pm by bluebanshee

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 »

April 27, 2009

Ireland abandons electronic voting

Posted in Elections, Irish elections, paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , at 5:28 pm by bluebanshee

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

Making the case for Open Source software for elections

Posted in Debra Bowen, Election reform, Elections, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 10:12 pm by bluebanshee

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

Action Alert: Tell your Senators to vote NO on S. 3212

Posted in Diane Feinstein, Election reform, Elections, paper ballots, S. 3212, voter verified paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 11:10 pm by bluebanshee

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 »

February 23, 2008

What to believe …

Posted in Elections, New Jersey primary, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , at 11:23 am by bluebanshee

The numbers from the cartridges that print out vote tallies and the paper-tape backup didn’t match. http://tinyurl.com/2odsco

This is the dilemma faced by election officials in several New Jersey counties including Union, Bergen, Gloucester, Middlesex and Ocean counties during the recent Presidential primary. The voting machines in question are paperless DRE’s from Sequoia. Not machines that have paper for voters to check to see that their vote was recorded correctly but machines where votes are recorded invisibly somewhere in the depths of the machine’s memory.

Now they (and we) find out that even the computer speaks with forked tongue when asked what the election results are.

The discrepancies involved the political-party turnout reporting. Sequoia Advantage machines in several counties showed different figures between the result tape from the machine and the records of a secondary memory cartridge, for the number of Democratic and Republican voters. http://tinyurl.com/269edr Read the rest of this entry »

February 18, 2008

Obama might get another delegate or two in NY

Posted in Barack Obama, Elections, Hillary Clinton, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , at 5:23 pm by bluebanshee

Looks like the election results in New York will be revised with Barack Obama possible gaining in his delegate count.

Black voters are heavily represented in the 94th Election District in Harlem’s 70th Assembly District. Yet according to the unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary last week, not a single vote in the district was cast for Senator Barack Obama.

That anomaly was not unique. In fact, a review by The New York Times of the unofficial results reported on primary night found about 80 election districts among the city’s 6,106 where Mr. Obama supposedly did not receive even one vote, including cases where he ran a respectable race in a nearby district. http://tinyurl.com/38a6r5

The above report in the NYT caused much alarm across the country — with many folks suggesting that there was some chicanery on the part of Clinton supporters in her home state. In fact, the explanation offered by Doug Kellner of the New York State Board of Elections is much more plausible: Read the rest of this entry »

January 7, 2008

Glaring omissions in otherwise excellent NYT article on voting machines

Posted in Diebold, election audits, Elections, ES&S, Florida voting, paper ballots, politics, voting, voting machine certification, voting machine testing, voting machines tagged , , , , , at 10:24 pm by bluebanshee

“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 »

November 5, 2007

A fraternal twin for H.R. 811

Posted in Elections, Hr 811, paper ballots, politics, Rush Holt, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , at 6:05 am by bluebanshee

A new, improved version of H.R. 811, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 has been introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that would outlaw the use of DRE voting machines by 2012. The House bill has been in a kind of limbo awaiting action since it was voted out the House Administration committee in May.

In response to the actions of his Senate colleagues Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) issued a press release praising the introduction of S. 2295:

“Senators Nelson and Whitehouse deserve credit for recognizing the need to give Americans confidence that elections are accurate and verifiable. I look forward to working with them to pass this legislation in Congress and send it to the President for his signature. Congress shouldn’t wait to protect voters’ rights, ensure the accuracy of elections, and increase the confidence of our citizens in their electoral system,”

One cannot fairly describe S. 2295 as a clone of the House version introduced by Rep. Holt but more of a fraternal twin — same genetic heritage but a few differences worth noting. Warren Stewart of Verified Voting believes that there are “significant improvements” in the Senate bill. Among the changes are a new provision that would eliminate the use of DRE voting machines by 2012.

In light of the revelations of the Top to Bottom Review performed at the behest of California SOS Debra Bowen (which happened after Rep. Holt introduced his bill), it is good to see a solid thoughtful legislative response in the provisions of S.2295 to the problems that the California process uncovered.

The text of the bill can be found here:

http://www.votetrustusa.org/pdfs/Bills/Nelson110107.pdf

It is not yet available at Thomas.gov

October 24, 2007

Parallel universes — the public vs. “public officials”

Posted in Election Center, Elections, Florida voting, Hr 811, Maryland voting, paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 4:17 am by bluebanshee

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 »