Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How many of these does it take?

Bradblog.com has been covering multiple incidents of votes being flipped on the electronic voting machines, which will be used by well over 80% of voters next week. All of the reported incidents so far, just as in 2004 and 2002, are incidents in which votes for Democrats are flipped to the benefit of Republicans. Not some. Not most. ALL. Oh well. The Media says they're only "glitches." Besides, these "glitches" consistently doing what's statistically impossible - benefitting only one political party - is just the mother of all coincidences, I'm sure. I'll file this under "move along, nothing to see here..."


Zirconia Wolf said...

Well, this is a subject that is near and dear (if that's the right term for it) to my heart, and I feel uniquely qualified to include my rambleing conserns/comments here for the rest of cyber-space to deal with as it sees fit to do so.

Why do I feel this way?

Because I have been "working the polls" in my area now for going on 17 years. I started as a Pollbook Judge, was quickly "bumped up" to Inspector, and am now working as a Trooble Shooter {handling any problems that may arise in my asigned region(s)} and also as a member of the Canvaasing Crew, {we're the people who spend 2-3 weeks of 12 hour days pouring over the Pollbooks, handeling any re-counts and making sure everything balances} so I feel I can speak from quite a bit of experiance.

I was there for the "Punch Card" voteing (and those world-famous Hanging Chads) right into the Acc-Vote (fill the bubble-n-scan it) and now to the AVU (Accessable Voting Unit) with it's Touchscreen.

[Just for some added info, I should say that I am located in Washington State (not Florida, thank God!) and am working for the now semi-famous King County Elections Department. I say this because I am only familuar with our Election equipment, and can only comment on it!]

Long ramble cut (kinda) short, I- personaly- think the AVU is a far better system than the Accu-Vote, in terms of "ohmygodsomeonecouldbehackingin", anyway. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS A FREAKING PAPER TRAIL!!! In addition to several "Comfermation" screens, there is a little printer (that the voter or any concerned person is able to see) that is activaliy printing out whatever the voter is voting for, even before the Voter offical desides to "cast" their Ballot. ANY discrepiancey would be INSTANTLY apparent, and Voters can Cancel out (and re-do) their vote at ANY TIME, right up untill the very final comformation screen.

With the old fill-n-scan (Accu-Vote) the only way to find any problems is to litteraly go through every paper ballot (and we do for a re-count)and unless it's a close race, who would ever think to do so?

This is not to say that I don't belive that there are problems with Diebold, I'm just wondering if it's a "State-by-State" issue, as I have yet to personally see/experiance any problems of this nature. (DO NOT belive everything the "Media" may have "informed" you about the supposed tampering with our last Govenors race. That's a rant for a different thread, though!)

So that- in the proverial nutshell- is my take on this whole thing.

Feel free to voice your own. If you want to grill me on any details/etc, please post on the Candorville Discussion Forum, as it's a better (and slightly more secure) area for me to talk frankly about my years as an Election Worker.


The Pete said...

Wow. Are these Diebold machines that you use in Washington? Why haven't I heard of these machines before? It seems like what you've described should've been the national standard.

Rick S. said...

Well, this explains why several Republican honchos, like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are preternaturally confident that they will maintain the majority in the House and the Senate when they're interviewed on NPR.

In the past six years we have had: district re-drawings in Texas; vote nullification in Florida; election results inconsistent with exit polls in Ohio; and now mysterious "vote-switching". I am rapidly losing confidence in the legitimacy of the American election process.

The question I have is what happens when everyone else loses faith in the legitimacy of the process and the leaders it puts in place? If the fix is already in, does it matter whether or not we try to vote? What else can we do?

Perhaps some serious civil disobedience is in order ...

Zirconia Wolf said...

PETE : Sorry it took me a bit to respond! (I've had to juggle my life around in order to squeeze in another 4-hour training session for us Election Day Trouble Shooters.)

Yes, belive it or not, the AVU unit is made by the imfamous Diebold company! (Humourus side note: Diebold reps are now- rather forcefully- pronouncing the name DEEbold instead of DIEbold like it's freaking spelled. Could it be they are trying to get away from the rymes-with-Lie jokes??)

Just to clarify how we do things out here in King County (Wasington State) currently, you can choose to vote one of 3 ways:

Absentee (by mail)
"Paper Ballot" (Accu-Vote)
"Electronic Ballot" (AVU Touch-Sreen)

[A few countys are so small they are strictly Vote by Mail, and 2007/20008 will see all of Washington moving to a Vote-By Mail with a few Regional Voting Centers still up for those who perfer to go-to-the-polls, or just want to drop off their Absentee Ballot somewhere other than their Mailbox.]

All voters who walk into a Polling Place on Election day are asked if they want to vote a Paper or Electronic Ballot.

A "Paper Ballot" is like those old "fill-in-the-oval" test most of us took in school. Once you are done, it is promptly fed into the Accu-Vote Machine, which scans, records (on a memory chip) and will later (after the Polls close)print out a Summary Report, which details the vote break-down for each issue by each Precinct at that Polling Place. A copy of this report is required to be hung up in a window, wall, etc. before the Poll Workers leave, so that anyone can view the results.

As I said, I personaly can see where this way (Accu-Vote) could be a problem, as a machine could be set to do something like switch every 3rd vote for a perticulaur Canidate/issue to be recorded as a vote for the "Other Guy/issue", since these Summary Reports are only generated after Poll Closing. (Seriously now, this is far more likely than switching EVERY vote. I mean, 100% for ANYTHING is gonna be an instant tip off!)

A "glitch" like this would really only ever become readily apparent during a hand recount, and those aren't usually called for unless it's a really close race. (They cost a fair bit, too!)

Now, as to the AVU Machine (an "Electronic" Ballot) here is the run down:

A voter says they want to vote an Electonic Ballot. They go through the usuall sign-in/show-ID thing, but instead of recording the Ballot # handed to the Voter in the apropriet slot in the Pollbook, the Pollbook Judge writes the letters AVU, and fills out an "AVU" slip (little carbon copy dohickey) and gives the Voter this slip. (The carbon copy stays with the Pollbook Judge.)

This slip just says which Precinct this voter is in, so that the AVU judge (who the Voter is now sent to) knows what "Ballot" they should "Issue" them. So the voter hands the AVU Judge this slip, and the AVU judge pulls out this cute little thing that looks like a Credit Card and asks the voter 3 things: Would they like a Magnified (large print), an Audio (the AVU has a set of Headphones)or a Hidden (nothing shows up on the thouch screen) Ballot? This is because the ultimate purpose of the AVU is to allow EVERYONE including people with "disabilities" the opurtunity to vote on thier own. Also, while you can vote an Audio Ballot that is not Hidden, you cannot (obviously) choose a Hidden Ballot that is not automaticaly set as an Audio one.

The voter's preferences are then encoded (along with the correct Precinct #) onto the little Credit Card looking thingy and this card is handed to the voter who goes over to the AVU and inserts the card into the card-slot and is now free to vote. After making their selections, the voter is then asked to Confirm their Ballot, and THIS is where I feel the AVU is far superior to the Accu-Vote!

As the voter is asked to confirm each of their choices, it is printed out on the AVU printer RIGHT THEN AND THERE for the voter (or any "helper" they may wish to have along if they are visually impared) to see. ANY hank-panky would be INSTANTLY spotted.

"But wait!" you say "By then it's too late!"

To which I reply "Oh no, it's not!"

You see, the voter is still in the Confirmation stage. They have not yet been prompted to CAST their Ballot! It's only after ALL the issues/etc the voter voted on/for are Confirmed (and printed) that the Cast This Ballot prompt/option is available. The voter can STILL choose to say "forget it!" and CANCELL OUT THEIR VOTE. (Then it's just a simple matter of the AVU judge re-codeing the card to let the voter try again, if they wish.)

Honestly, I love this system! Since all the Ballots (even the ones that are later cancelled out)are recorded on a continous roll (and loked in a sealed canister, I would like to add) it would be a snap to uncover any atempt to mess around with the total results, should anyone be dumb/aragant enough to even want to try. The actuall Ballot results are right there, ON THE SAME ROLL OF PAPER! No long "hand recount" needed. Just unroll it and look!

Okay, I have rambled to long again!

Once more- for the record- let me say that I am NOT saying that our entire (National) election procces is marvoulosly wonderfully perfectly terrific.

I am NOT a niave moron.

I know what's-what, and "what" is that there is overwhelming evidence (despite what the nay-says say) that somthing's rotten and not in Denmark when it comes to the integrety of our eletion results. (Another side note: when the whole Hanging Chad thing in Florida happend, we Washington folks had long since ditched those @!#$% punch-cards for the Accu-Vote machine. Okay, it may not be perfect but I honestly didn't realize untill that story broke that there where still so many States living back in the stone age!)

Again, while I stand by my King County Election results, I am saddened to realize that "The Powers That Be" have seen fit to seek any means whatsoever to maintain their iron-clad (yet inceasingly endangered) grip on our Nation, no matter if these "means" run completely against their continous battle cry of Moral Values.

I would dearly LOVE to get ahold of a gop dictionary.

I simply must look up their definition of the words Moral and Values someday.....

-ZW (Andrea)

P.S. to RICK S. : I was once reminded by someone (during a bout of extreme concern about the direction that our County seems to be getting drug in) not to forget something I had.

To quote her, "Remember, our Country was founded by a revolution."

Just a little food for thought.....

Chuck said...

I really wonder what's going to be said if things go the other direction. For instance, her in MN, we find a very close race for Governor (Just 2% difference, less than the margin of error). Our likely Senator-Elect (DFL, Amy Klobuchar) has a hefty lead over her opponent doesn't know what
E-85 is as reported by the St. Paul Pioneer press over this last week. There's a near 20% lead for Attorney General for the DFL.

I also read in the aforementioned St. Paul Paper, about a town that had a GOP victory OVERTURNED because of reversed definition file in one of touch-screen machines. Read it as you like, it was more than likely inadvertent.

Here's a kicker: Minnesota has not had a DFL Governor for 12 years. We've had mostly GOP Senators for the US Senate since 1980. The GOP controls the House in the State, the DFL has the Senate. Secretary of State is GOP, A.G. is DFL. And the REAL Kicker? In Minnesota, by law: Electronic voting machines are illegal. So are Punch Cards. And Lever voting machines.
Maybe we should all go to the computer cards that Minnesota uses, eh?

Of course, there have been some changes in status for 2008. Hunter, GOP, forms an exploratory group. Hillary remains mum, but doesn't deny that she's considering a run. Obama sounds more like a candidate. And the rhetoric begins to climb in intensity. You can tell it's approaching 2008.

Does Sadam get death? I don't know yet. But I know there are Kurds who are greatful that he is gone!