Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Voting Machines on Auto-Pilot? Irregularities Showing At Early Polling in Nevada, North Carolina, Texas

Well, they couldn't get the absentee ballots off in time in New York or Illinois, so why on earth would any of us think the early polling go any better elsewhere?

Early voting for the Nov. 2nd mid-terms got off to a rocky start in some jurisdictions this week.

By Tuesday night, there were reports that polling stations in at least two counties in North Carolina were experiencing problems with the touchscreen voting machines.
Laughinghouse cast his ballot at the [Craven] county administration building at about 2:30 p.m., he said. After voting, he located a Republican worker on site and asked to speak with her about his voting machine issue. A man interrupted, he said, directing Laughinghouse to talk with him instead. That man said the machine likely needed to be calibrated, Laughinghouse said, and set about the method to do so
Nearby New Hanover County also experienced similar problems on the first day of One Stop Voting earlier this month.

Out in Nevada, there have been reports coming in from Las Vegas and elsewhere in Clark County that voters have found their touchscreen voting machines had already checked Harry Reid's name.
Voter Joyce Ferrara said when they went to vote for Republican Sharron Angle, her Democratic opponent, Sen. Harry Reid's name was already checked.

Ferrara said she wasn't alone in her voting experience. She said her husband and several others voting at the same time all had the same thing happen.

"Something's not right," Ferrara said. "One person that's a fluke. Two, that's strange. But several within a five minute period of time -- that's wrong."
As it turns out, the technicians for the voting machines are represented by SEIU Local 1107, which has supported Reid's bid for a fifth term as senator. Perhaps even more ominously, Reid's son Rory also happens to be the chairman of the Clark County Commission and is running for governor of Nevada.

In Texas, there have been reports of votes for Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rick Perry being switched to the Green Party's Deb Shafto and votes for Democrat candidate Bill White being shifted to show Rick Perry, again using touchscreen technology.

And in Troy, NY, New York State Police investigators have taken DNA samples from a Troy city councilman and the city clerk as part of an ongoing absentee voter registration fraud case from last year. The two officials are suspected of forging dozens of absentee ballots and attributing them to voters who had no role in filling them out.

As an aside, I worked as an election worker in a statewide special election a few years back. The only position that was available at the time was to set up and inspect the touchscreen voting machine. I was assigned to a polling station in a village of about 1800 and maybe 40 people showed up all day. The county gives you the choice of paper ballot or the touchscreen, and none of the voters who showed up wanted to use the touchscreen, so I was basically the Maytag repairman throughout the day. And even though nobody used the machine, we had to secure the memory card and printout with the paper ballots as though there really were votes to be tallied on there before handing them off the the Sheriff's department.

So with that in mind, the million dollar question is "Do each of these jurisdictions offer a choice between paper ballot or the touchscreen, or is it exclusive touchscreen voting?". Although clearly not 100% tamper-proof, I would prefer to use a paper ballot myself come election day in light of recent events.

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