Category Archives: electronic voting

Your Modern Democracy

Here we go again:

Voting Problem 2

Col. Davis, according to his Howard University bio, is a prominent human rights lawyer, retired Air Force colonel, and former Gitmo chief prosecutor. His resume is pretty impressive. Pretty sure he knows how to work a voting machine.

We can send a man to the moon but we can’t operate an election. But yes, let’s create a Voter ID requirement so complicated that thousands of women are disenfranchised and even the former speaker of the United States House of Representatives can’t get an ID. (For the record, I know Virginia and Texas are not the same, but Virginia’s Voter ID law goes into effect in 2014, just FYI.)

Remember to vote today, folks. And after you vote, check your vote. Then double-check it. Because when Republicans are in charge of your state government, nothing functions, not even the most fundamental element of our democracy.


Filed under electronic voting

At Least He Had His Voter ID


The machine has been “recalibrated” and is back in use. Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be just fine! Honest!


Via Wonkette:

This is what happens when you try to vote for President Obama in Pennsylvania:

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

Wonder if it’s one of those machines owned by those former Bain executives?


Filed under 2012 presidential election, electronic voting

Hacking The Vote… AGAIN

You know, if this were happening in a Third World country, we’d all nod our heads knowingly and just marvel that anyone thought they could get away with it, or that the public would stand for it. If this were the 1970s USSR, we’d all know the score.

But no, this is America, and questioning why former Bain Capital executives and Romney bundlers would own an e-voting machine company actually being used in this election is simply not done.

But please, let’s talk about Voter ID some more.

I love Forbes magazine’s “liberal columnist” Rick Ungar’s take on this, too:

Hopefully, everything will go swimmingly in Cincinnati on Election Day. And, if it doesn’t, it will no doubt be the result of honest error.

Oh, no doubt.

Really, guys. You couldn’t find anything else to invest in? You couldn’t donate all those hundreds of thousands to charity rather than put it into political contributions so that your fellow countrymen would have no reason to ever doubt or question the results of so important an election—or any election for that matter, even if it’s the choice of a county dogcatcher?

Really, Forbes? You need to ask the question? Wake up and smell the coffee.

More here:


Filed under 2012 presidential election, electronic voting

>Shall We Play A Game?

>Via Brad Blog, it seems some of you wacky kids with your mad computer skillz were able to hack a Sequoia touch-screen voting machine. Behold, the ballot is replaced with a game of Pac-man, all without breaking the anti-hacking “tamper-evident” seals. Hmm…

By the way, just wondering how many of my readers are old enough to know what the title of this post refers to. No cheating on the Great Gazoogle!


Filed under computer hackers, electronic voting

>Hacking The Vote In Nashville


Via Kleinheider, there are reports of Republican voters in Decatur County experiencing similar problems.

Can we please have a voting system that everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, can have confidence in? Is that asking so fucking much?


BradBlog reports on problems with the ES&S iVotronic In Nashville last week:

My wife, Patricia Earnhardt, had an early voting experience here in Nashville, Tennessee, where she saw her vote momentarily flip from Barack Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. She voted on a touch-screen paperless machine. Here is her story:

“A poll worker directed me to a touch screen voting machine & instructed me how to use it. I touched “Obama” for president & nothing lit up. I touched 2 or 3 more times & still nothing lit up. I called the poll worker back over to tell him I was having a problem. He said I just needed to touch it more lightly. I tried it 2 or 3 more times more lightly with the poll worker watching & still nothing lit up. The poll worker then touched it for me twice — nothing lit up.

The third time he touched the Obama button, the Cynthia McKinney space lit up! The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button. The poll worker just kind of laughed and cancelled the vote. He hit the Obama button again & it finally lit up. I continued on to cast the rest of my votes.

After completing the process & reviewing my votes, I went to the VOTE page, hit the VOTE button & nothing happened. Again after several tries, I called the poll worker over & he finally got the machine to register my votes.” Patricia Earnhardt – Friday, Oct. 17 – Howard School Building – Nashville, Tennessee

The Earnhardts are the people behind the election-integrity documentary “Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections.” It may sound a little too coincidental that this couple should experience problems with their vote, but there have been all sorts of reports of unlikely folks experiencing voting problems, such as Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida yesterday.

Nashville is not alone in having these problems, either. Vote switching has occurred with ES&S touch-screen machines in in West Virginia, Florida was plagued with a “brew of administrative bungling and mysterious technological failures ” one month before the election, and check out what happened in Arkansas during the primary:

Bruce Haggard, an election commissioner in Faulkner County, Arkansas, is baffled by a problem that occurred with two voting machines in this month’s state primary elections. The machines allocated votes cast in one race to an entirely different race that wasn’t even on the electronic ballot. The problem resulted in the wrong candidate being declared victor in a state House nomination race.

The machines used in this Arkansas county? The ES&S iVotronic — the same ones we use here in Davidson County.

I thought Davidson County was supposed to get paper ballots. I guess it didn’t happen in time for the presidential election. The Davidson County Election Commission should never have approved spending taxpayer money on a verified, flawed system like the ES&S iVotronic, which has been plagued with issues for years and has been decertified in several states.

The Davidson County Election Commission’s Republican Commissioner Lynn Greer apparently said that

“paper ballots are the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on America.”

Really? I thought that was an Acorn canvasser registering Mickey Mouse to vote.

I think as far as partisan players like Lynn Greer are concerned, the greatest fraud is when Democrats vote and their vote is actually counted.

Anyway, a warning to Nashville voters: the ES&S iVotronic is a problem-plagued machine. People using them in Davidson County are reporting the machines switching votes. So be very careful when voting that you check and double check that the screen did not switch your vote.

But as far as what happens when you push the “Vote” button? Well, it’s all a big mystery, isn’t it? We’ll just have to trust that what the machine records is what we voters intended.

Trust. Yeah. Sorry, but a faith-based election isn’t really what our Democracy is all about , is it?

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Filed under electronic voting, Nashville

>Outsourcing Elections

>I’ve made no bones about how I feel about electronic touch-screen voting. I don’t trust it, I don’t want it, and I don’t understand why we have to have it.

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine has an excellent, albeit alarming. article about the problems with touch screen voting. It’s long, but it’s a thorough and comprehensive overview of the issue.

By now, most of us on the blogopshere have heard about the undercounts and switched votes, vulnerability to hacking and the election-night crashes. Etcetera. Etcetera. But about halfway through this article, author Clive Thompson gets to the really scary part of this issue:

This has created an environment, critics maintain, in which the people who make and sell machines are now central to running elections. Elections officials simply do not know enough about how the machines work to maintain or fix them. When a machine crashes or behaves erratically on Election Day, many county elections officials must rely on the vendors — accepting their assurances that the problem is fixed and, crucially, that no votes were altered.

In essence, elections now face a similar outsourcing issue to that seen in the Iraq war, where the government has ceded so many core military responsibilities to firms like Halliburton and Blackwater that Washington can no longer fire the contractor. Vendors do not merely sell machines to elections departments. In many cases, they are also paid to train poll workers, design ballots and repair broken machines, for years on end.

“This is a crazy world,” complained Ion Sancho, the elections supervisor of Leon County in Florida. “The process is so under control by the vendor. The primary source of information comes only from the vendor, and the vendor has a conflict of interest in telling you the truth. The vendor isn’t going to tell me that his buggy software is why I can’t get the right time on my audit logs.”

There you have it. The vendor has a conflict of interest in telling you the truth. This is why I want the “free hand of the market” out of my elections. Touch-screen voting is complicated, it’s high-tech and requires computer literacy to fix bugs and crashed machines. It requires an expertise beyond the ken of most poll workers, who are senior citizens. But even the tech-savvy can’t handle the problems that have been experienced with this equipment. The manufacturer has to fix these problems. But voting machine manufacturers have a political agenda, just like any business owner will.

Why are we ceding control of our elections to the companies that make the voting machines? This is no small thing. People have died for the right to vote in this country. And we’re just giving it away to some corporation? Why?

One of my conservative readers, responding to an earlier post on this issue, observed, “I’d just as soon everybody mark their choices on serialized paper ballots and count them by hand, even if we have to wait a week to find out who won.” I actually agree. I don’t think it will take that long, but I’d rather it be late, and accurate vs. fast and wrong. It’s just too important.

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Filed under election security, electronic voting

>Hackers Crack Voting Machines

>Since Nashville voters are in the midst of electing a new mayor and city council, I thought I’d scare the bejeezus out of you with this discouraging piece of news:

Most vote machines lose test to hackers

State-sanctioned teams of computer hackers were able to break through the security of virtually every model of California’s voting machines and change results or take control of some of the systems’ electronic functions, according to a University of California study released Friday.

The researchers “were able to bypass physical and software security in every machine they tested,” said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who authorized the “top to bottom review” of every voting system certified by the state.

Holy rigged elections! You can read the entire report at the California Secretary of State’s website.

To be clear, Davidson County uses the ES&S iVotronic system; none of the systems California uses are of this type. Still, that doesn’t mean the ES&S iVotronic is immune to hackers or even bug-free. Verified Voting documents problems in Florida, Texas and North Carolina with the iVotronic.

The biggest problem I have with Davidson County’s switch to the iVotronic is that the system has no paper backup in case a recount is needed. That’s just plain stupid. Machines fail all the time; to not prepare for that inevitability is just irresponsible.

I also don’t understand how a vision impaired person is supposed to vote on these things. Ah, you may say: a vision impaired person can get a paper “absentee” ballot!

Really? Then why can’t we all?

Maybe we should use the purple finger method. I mean if it’s good enough for the Iraqis ….

(h/t Huffpo)

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Filed under election security, electronic voting, hackers