Analysis shows touchscreen voting machines are faulty. What can we do?

From an AP report (

Anything we can do about this? Is it too late to get some other system in place before November?

And – what states other than Florida are going to be using these machines?

An organization called actforchange is preparing an on-line petition to AG Ashcroft against using these no-paper-trail machines:

Here’s an issue paper on the subject (pdf file) from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections:

And a demo of the proposed touchscreen system:

And here’s the website of Verified Voting, which is demanding a paper trail for the electronic machines:

And the site of Black Box Voting, which just filed a lawsuit against Diebold for fraud:

And here’s a Black Box Voting interview (with snippy editorial commentaries) of Glenda Hood, Florida Secretary of State:

And a story about how Senator Bill Nelson (D.-Fla.) is demanding of both Hood and AG Ashcroft that an “independent audit” of the machines be performed:

Well, step one would be to scrap all the fancy shiny mechanical crap. Step two would be to use a simple paper ballot, and a number two pencil, with a big spot to write “X” by the candidate of choice. And step three would be to require supervisors from both major parties and a couple minor ones in the room where the ballots are counted at all times with an immediate process for appeals.

Of course, it might take a few days to count the votes, but I think that’s part of our problem. It’s the old “good, cheap, fast, pick two” issue. There is absolutely no need to have the ballots counted in time for the late news. If it takes a week, nothing will change in any way. We’ve got from November till January.

I’ve seen some Thomas Nast political cartoons portraying the American ballot box of the late 19th Century: A glass globe in a wooden frame. Presumably it was glass so that everybody could watch what went into it, and so that it could only be opened by breaking it, making it much more difficult to cheat.

Analysis shows touchscreen voting machines are faulty
Dateline: Planet Obvious


I’m with laigle – One man, one ballot, one pencil (or marker pen). I don’t care if it takes a week to count 'em, as long as they get counted(*).

(* = Insert obligatory GOP joke here :wink: )

I recall the best solution I ever heard proposed not long after the 2000 Florida fiasco. An Arizona man had devised a “pulltab” ballot, very much like the pulltab lottery tickets some states sell.

Basically, it has perforated squares covering pre-drilled holes in a cardstock ballot. The holes are already drilled cleanly, and the tabs are large enough to remove with one’s fingers, and are intrinsically obvious as to whether there is a problem with a “hanging” or “dangling” or “pregnant” tab. And since there are holes, they can be optically scanned.

Election officials hated this idea. It wasn’t high tech. It wasn’t cool. It was old and fuddy duddy and unexciting.

Well guess what, you territorial bureaucratic leeches? As a voter, I want old and fuddyduddy and most especially, I do not want excitement anywhere near the ballot counting process. It should be boring and routine, becuase it’s reliable.

I know why every damn election official in every damn state and county wanted computer polling, because computers and software mean money and a bureaucrat with a budget is an important bureaucrat.

God help us all, we are reverting to the 10th century in a matter of decades.

If that’s what you want, move to Alabama. That’s how we vote here. There are also four Poll Watchers at my voting house, two black and two white, though I’m not certain of their party affiliation. They all like each other, 'cause they sit and play checkers in between voters. They know who everybody is, and mark by your name on their list when you show up without having to ask. No, there’s never a wait where I vote.
Once we had 116 people vote on presidential election day, but that was when there was also a hotly contested race for Constable.
When you’re through putting your ballot into the machine, one of the poll watchers will put a little sticky on your shirt collar that says: “I Voted”.

If you’re interested in good conversation, you can hang around and discuss the prospect for a bountiful hunting season. :smiley:

Whoa. The state that’s on the forefront of reliable voting technology is… Alabama. O_o

Seriously, I agree that we’ve got to go back to good old fashioned paper ballots and have people mark their choices with an X. I’ve heard too many stories about electronic machines recording votes incorrectly. Sometimes supspiciously incorrectly, as in it undercounts one party’s candidates but not the other’s.

And how long does it take to count the votes in Alabama? I’ve don’t recall your returns coming in later than any other state’s in any election year.

I doubt it would take a week. The voting system here is essentially the same. The ballot are plainly a piece of paper with the name of the candidate or party on it. We put the paper of our choice in an envelope and drop it in the ballot box. All candidates can send a supervicor in the polling station. The votes are counted by electors who volunteers (they usually ask you if you’re willing to help in the count when you vote. I did it several times) under the supervision of the candidate’s representants and the polling station officials.
At most it takes a couple hours in the largest polling stations. Add some more hours for the results to be consolidated at the national level, and the official results are generally known 6 hours or so after the end of the vote. Of course, in the US there are usually a number of elections on the same day, so I assume it would be longer (though more polling stations would solve this issue), but it certainly wouldn’t take a week to count ballots by hand.
Besides it has the added advantage that if you’re not convinced that the election will be fair, you can volunteer either to represent your party of choice as a supervisor, or to count the ballots, hence check by yourself.

It can even be fun when pissed off electors cast creative votes. In the little village I was brought up in, a large part of the inhabitants would come for the counting, (my 8 y.o. included…early interest in politics), especially during local elections.

I believe in simplicity and that it is far more important that the votes are counted fairly than in getting totals on the television five minutes after the polls close. Let’s go back to paper ballots.

Let me get this straight – in France they have pollworkers/pollwatchers that represent parties?!

Actually, we pollworkers in NYC also do, in a way. Of course, the majority here are actually Dems, but each table has two people designated as being from each party as a formality–it’s randomly assigned, and I’m a Repub. If a blind person is voting, for example, both the “Republican” and the “Democrat” have to stick their heads behind the thick black curtain on the machine and answer their questions and watch them. We also have to both sign off on any challenged or proxy votes, and stuff like that.

The only party people allowed in the room are pollwatchers. They have badges, and strict rules governing what they can say and do. And people handing out literature and stuff have to stay 150 feet away from the doors.

Anyway, AFAIK we are not getting the new machines this time around, so NYC will be pretty accurate. Our machines leave no paper trail either except that which we pollworkers write down, but we cross-check each other and do very well with that.

Yes. The polling station is “operated” (not sure what would be the correcty word) by a president designated by the mayor (in France, any place is part of a “commune” with an elected mayor) with full authority (including military if need be) inside the station, and deputies chosen by the candidates. The candidates can also send delegates who don’t take part in the actual operations but can monitor them, and point out or contest any irregularity they notice. They are also present during the counting. The people who actually count the ballots can also be chosen by the candidates in theory, but in practice, they just ask electors if they’re willing to do the job.

FLORIDA IS USING ELECTRONIC VOTING??? I’ve been following the story and somehow I completely missed that.

faints dead away

God DAMN! If I were a Florida Democrat, I’d be thinking about slitting my wrists.

Come to think of it, it’s not a bad idea anyway.

At least Ohio has scratched the use of them. Bush might still win there (what color state is it?), but it won’t be because that Diebold guy’s “promise” to “deliver Ohio” to him.

HAHAHAHAHA!! That was hilarious!

Oh no! I’m so sorry for my casual profanity. I was reading the page, went away, then came back, and responded, forgetting that I was in GD and not the Pit.

Here in Georgia we had electronic voting in the 2000 election, courtesy of Diebold. And we also had some VERY suspicious surprise Republican victories.

Surely a coincidence, eh? :dubious:

Not long. You mark your ballot with a dark lead pencil. Then you feed your (thick) paper ballot into a machine after you’ve marked it. The machine reads the ballots as they are inserted. I suppose there’s a button somewhere that, when it’s pushed, tallies the votes after the polls close.

The ballots are large, (8 & 1/2 by 14 inch paper) and there is virtually no chance of a mistake, as the places you mark are also large. Alabama obviously has the ability to re-count the paper ballots if an outcome is challenged.

Now, I don’t claim our voting process is more modern than others. More likely, it’s outdated by modern standards, but is effective in avoiding controversy. Also, the entire population of Alabama is around 4.5 million. This system might be too slow in states with larger populations.

Here in California (in Sacramento, at least), we have always voted with a punch card for as long as I can remember. Up until the most recent primary, when we were greeted at the polls with a Scantron form and a number 2 pencil. I thought I was back in college for a minute.

Personally, I never had a problem with my chads, but I wholeheartedly approve of this “step backward” in technology.

I’ve studied the different voting systems, and it seems to me that the safest, most accurate way is simple optical scanning of a paper ballot. When I voted in Durham, NC, they used this method, and I think it was very fast and inexpensive compared to other methods, like the lever-type voting booths in New York, or these newfangled touchscreen systems. Basically, there were large, hollow arrows pointing to the different candidates, all on a single sheet of paper. Each voter got a big marker to “fill in” the arrow that pointed to their choice. When you were done voting, you placed the ballot in an optical scanner that immediately scanned your vote, and stored a copy of your hand-marked ballot securely inside.