What are these Dominion Voting Machines?

I’ve never voted on a machine - always on paper with a pen. When I was a kid, I remember going into a voting booth with my mom, and she pulled some levers to vote. I think those are very rare nowadays. I do remember there being some discussion of touch-screen voting machines having the standard touch-screen problem of mis-noting your touch slightly as they age (I’ve especially noticed this on ATMs) and thereby seeming to record the wrong vote. I’m not sure how common these are. And of course, there are machines that optically read paper ballots and count those votes, but that voters never personally interact with.

So now, in 2020, there’s a bunch of crazy conspiracy theories about the voting machines made by Dominion, particularly in Georgia. But I’m totally unclear on what kind of machine these are. Are they tabulators? Or did Georgians actually vote on these machines? And if the latter, are they touch-screens, or some other interface?

I will be curious to see actual citations and accusations. I’ve heard vague suggestions that the only reason Biden won the presidential race is that so many Georgians voted on paper ballots this year (by mail) but I haven’t seen anything at all to back that up.

That’s a weird claim. Biden doesn’t even need Georgia to win the EC. Or did you mean that they’re claiming he only won GA because of the mail-in ballots?

Regardless, I didn’t mean this thread to discuss the validity of the conspiracy theory per se. I’m just curious about the facts around what these machines do in practice and what they’re alleged to have done. If it’s just mis-tabulation, the hand-recount would count that. If they’re actually registering the votes, I’m curious how that works.

There are a few different machines involved, all part of an overall system.

I believe the Dominion system in Georgia uses a ballot-marking machine, a tabulating machine, and various servers to combine the vote totals from various tabulators. There may also be an electronic system for confirming voter eligibility.

The ballot-marking machine lets the voter select who they want to vote for and then it prints out a ballot with their choices marked. This paper ballot is then submitted into the tabulator system that is like a glorified scanner which reads what the selections are and keeps a running total. There are then a bunch of back-end systems for reporting out data and auditing results.

The interface with which the ballot-marking device is interfaced by the voter is, I believe, a touch-screen tablet-type device. Something like this: https://www.dominionvoting.com/imagecast-x/

ETA: More info here https://securevotega.com/voting-system/

From https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dominion-rep-responds-to-trump-campaign-impossible-to-switch-votes (yes, this is fox news)

“Well, it’s physically impossible,” Steel said of vote switching. “Look, when a voter votes on a Dominion machine, they fill out a ballot on a touch screen. They are given a printed copy which they then give to a local election official for safekeeping. If any electronic interference had taken place, the tally reported electronically would not match the printed ballots. and in every case where we’ve looked at – in Georgia, all across the country – the printed ballot, the gold standard in election security, has matched the electronic tally.”

So, if the machine did switch the vote, it would also need to change the printed copy. I assume there are voters who wouldn’t check the printed copy to make sure it’s accurate. But, if it did change a significant number of votes, there would be people complaining about their copy not matching what they entered on the machine.

This, sorry to be unclear.

Great answers, thanks everyone!

Slight side question - what’s the point of these touch screen machines? Is there some widespread belief that this is somehow easier than just filling in a bubble with a pen?

It may not be easier to do but it is easier to interpret. People are really bad at following directions,. If you give them a pen and say fill in the oval next to the candidate you want, you may bet people circling the candidates name, placing an X over the oval (does that mean you wanted to vote for her is that you are X-ing out the name?). Is a partially filled in oval a vote or a stray mark? What if two ovals are partially filled in? etc.

With the touch screens, you are prevented from voting for more than one candidate, notified if you forgot to fill out a portion of the ballot, and the mark placed by the machine is unambiguous.

They allow for ADA compliance for the most part. You can vote via audio with arrow keys or even a sip n puff device although it is very tedious. For limited vision, you can make the text larger or change into a high contrast mode.

They also let you offer more languages. Where I was working as a pollworker the paper ballots had English and Spanish on them, but the touchscreen had 5 or 6 language options.

Finally, in some ways, it is harder to screw up your ballot. They won’t let you overvote a race and warn you about undervotes before you ever print out the paper version.

We had Dominion equipment here in Chicago as it happens.

I would also point out that they also replaced other machines, which were entirely mechanical and had these levers you pulled that (I believe) would punch a hole in a ballot that you would then check and deposit. There was just a lever for each candidate, if I remember correctly, with labels to tell you both which candidate has which lever, and which group of levers is for which office.

(I don’t know if it was kosher, but my mom would bring me into the voting booth as a kid, to demonstrate how to vote and how important it was. They had the machines then.)

Just to be clear, I wasn’t pulling any levers. Like you, my mom just brought me into the booth with her to give me early lessons on the importance of voting. I doubt I was allowed to touch anything.

Here in California, children are encouraged to go with their parent to a booth to watch the mechanics of voting. And they get a cool “I Voted” sticker to wear to school.

Watching parents fill out a form at home isn’t nearly as exciting.

I used an old mechanical voting machine in NYC for a couple of years, and also in NJ. Wow, talk about unintuitive. My husband gave up and didn’t vote on a ballot item he cared a lot about because he couldn’t find it. Paper is WAY easier.

I’ve never used one of the modern electronic voting machines. But my biggest complaint about voting machines is that they are expensive, and you tend to have just one per “district”. (In NYC, there were actually 4 “districts” that voted in the same room. But there was a singular machine that I had to use.) So you wait longer.

With paper ballots, the privacy booth and the pens are very cheap, and there are no security concerns around having extras. So the limiting factor on how many people can vote per hour is how fast the poll workers can sign you in. Once they do that, they hand you a ballot, and it doesn’t matter if the person right in front of you in line decides to do his research right then by tossing a coin 300 times. You just vote your ballot and get on with your day. You can return your ballot to the other poll worker before the guy in front of you.

I’ve never had to wait terribly long when I voted on paper ballots. I’ve waited a VERY long time with voting machines, even in a little local election when there weren’t many people in front of me.

Bumped.

Ohio Supreme Court takes case over voting machines purchase | WKBN.com

I remember exactly the same thing, in New York City. The voting machines stuck around for a surprisingly long time.

New York has its election controversies, mostly having to do with qualifying to get on the ballot, at the city and state levels. But I don’t remember any controversies about the machines changing the count.

These days, the process is more automated. The voter fills out a paper ballot, filling in circles next to the name of the candidate of his/her choice. The voter (not an election worker) then inserts the ballot into a scanner, which presumably counts the vote and passes it on to a computer somewhere that’s tabulating the whole vote, city-wide and state-wide.

The paper ballot is not returned to the voter, it’s kept by the election authorities. So there’s always a paper backup that can be checked if a recount is necessary.

IIRC, There’s nothing wrong with bringing someone into the voting booth with you as long as that person isn’t your employer or union rep.

I’ve heard the theory about people not checking their printed ballots, which may be true —- but with regards to fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election, I’d be very surprised if almost every voter didn’t at least glance at the printout on the top of ballot race.

Having machines switch votes while hoping voters won’t notice printout discrepancies may be a good strategy if you’re trying to cheat to win the local dog catcher race, but if you’re running for President - not so much.

If anyone is interested, here’s an excellent long form article on the Dominion lawsuits and strategy. It also goes into some of the horrifying personal attacks — a Dominion employee had her name put on a website called ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE, a gun sight graphic was imposed over her picture. The webpage also had what was purported to be her address and a photo of her house, but it wasn’t her address and house - it was the home of her elderly parents.