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Ask questions at the polls and read the paper receipt!!

Original post made by Concerned about Electronic Voting, Stanford, on Nov 7, 2006

I voted this morning at Stanford and had a problem with my vote. I previewed the paper receipt that comes with electronic voting and discovered that my vote had been cast for AS for governor whom I did NOT vote for. I asked a poll worker to help me go back to change the vote, and this person did not know how to do this. That was not acceptable to me, so I pursued it until I found a manager (who was quick to say it was my fault) who was able to show me how to change the vote. (De-select the check mark, and the circles will re-appear to vote again. The paper receipt should show 'voided' and will print a new one.)

Okay, maybe I did inadvertently vote for AS (although I am 99% sure I didn't), shouldn't it have been an easier, more straightforward process to make the change? Shouldn't the poll worker know how to work the machine? Why was the manager so quick to put it on me, instead of recognizing that their process was cumbersome to say the least? What if I didn't already have a basic understanding of computers or the wherewithal to keep asking until I got my question answered?

And, I worked as a poll worker for a couple of elections, and we were not instructed how to deal with this, so I know it wasn't an aberration that the first person didn't know how to do this.

Get rid of electronic voting!

Comments (13)

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Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 7, 2006 at 1:58 pm

I would like to see all states go to voting by mail, as Oregon (and I believe Washington state) has done. It provides more time, is more convenient, and is far less susceptible to large-scale fraud.

Electronic voting systems are COMPUTING systems - there will ALWAYS be a possibility that they will be hacked. There is simply noe way to avoid this, unless we do away with electronic voting.

For emphasis: Voting fraud has ALWAYS occurred in American elections - to some small degree. As well, it's always been the case than a very small percentage of cast ballots never made it to the final count. I would rather live with the former than worry about someone hacking systems state by state, precinct by precinct, to slectively cull and add votes in systematic ways that literally change the nature of our democracy. The latter is what we're facing with electronic voting.

Last, we'd better do something about gerrymandering, because it's probably hte most toxic thing we've dome to our democracy, especially in that last 10-15 years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 7, 2006 at 2:01 pm

here's another example of my concern
Web Link

Electronic voting is quickly approaching the level of fiasco. Do away with it!


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Posted by Theresa
a resident of Addison School
on Nov 7, 2006 at 4:54 pm

I think it would be fairly easy to "fat-finger" an incorrect vote on the touch-screen voting machines. I tapped the screen with the end of a pen just to make sure I hit the right spot.

The directions to change a vote were right on the screen though. I think that some people are upset by the technology before even facing it, so they rush ahead and assume the machine is trying to cut them out of the voting process.

Just take a breath, relax, and read the instructions. And next election, put yourself on the list as a permanent absentee so you can avoid the machines entirely.


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Posted by James
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2006 at 5:59 pm

I had my preschool daugther pressing the keys for me this morning on the voting machine. It really is not very difficult.

Good for you for checking the receipt, and granted the poll worker should have known how to make a change. I hardly think this points to a problem with electronic voting however, as a paper ballot (with chad) would have probably be even more prone to errors and been even harder to fix.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 7, 2006 at 8:40 pm

Theresa said..."The directions to change a vote were right on the screen though. I think that some people are upset by the technology before even facing it, so they rush ahead and assume the machine is trying to cut them out of the voting process.

Just take a breath, relax, and read the instructions. And next election, put yourself on the list as a permanent absentee so you can avoid the machines entirely."

/////////////////
Theresa, I work with electronic and digital interfaces all the time, and I can attest to the fact that the interface on those machines - especially of you want to change a vote, check your results and go back, or check yuor results and vote, are NOT transparent.

The interface on those machines WILL keep MILLIONS of people from feeling like they cast their vote properly, and WILL cause mistakes.

It's easy to say "relax" to someone if YOU don't have a problem with an interface. We've been hearing the same exhortations for two decades from technologists (of which I am one) about computer technology.

Voting HAS to be COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT, SIMPLE, AND AS TRUSTWORTHY AS POSSIBLE. An 80 year-old immigrant who has NEVER voted should be able to walk into a booth and figure out the interface. To the degree that we haven't INSISTED that she can, we have failed our democracy. To the degree that we have failed to GUARANTEE that large scale hacks can't be made on these machines, to that degree we have failed our democracy.


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Posted by T
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2006 at 9:01 pm

I waited 30 mins to get to the door of my polling place to find out that 3 of the 5 machines were out of paper. Those who brought their sample ballots could vote by their paper ballots. When I signed in I was offered to vote in a paper ballot then told they only had foreign language ones left. I voted on a Spanish language paper ballot. I t was interesting - I made it thru and appreciated the pollsters being patient and making the best of a bad situation. We were told they didn't have enough supplies because voter turnout wasn't supposed to be this high. Why can't we plan a little better?? They did not realize mid afternoon things were busier than what they had projected?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Drew
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2006 at 9:23 pm


T wrote: "I voted on a Spanish language paper ballot...."

Me too. The poll worker told me that "Bustamante" is the Spanish word for "Poizner." I hope he was right!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Permanent Absentee
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2006 at 8:14 am

That is exactly why I switched to permanent absentee voting! Always have a paper record, no electronic glitches, and vote in the comfort of your home (while wearing PJs)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by suzie
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2006 at 10:27 am

In my opinion voting by Absentee Ballot is the ONLY way to go. One has time to read the ballot and carefully vote. No lines, no uninformed (and sometimes rude) poll workers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rose
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 8, 2006 at 1:54 pm

we had problems with the machines in our precinct, too. 3 out of the 5 machines weren't working, but people seemed to be very patient.


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Posted by GaryB
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 8, 2006 at 4:50 pm

Mail in votes don't change the security problem at all. It's not a simple issue, the current machines are immature but will probably get better at security over time. Besides, as Scott Adams said, having our representitives chosen by a teenage hacker in Finland can hardly be worse than the electorate's track record.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 8, 2006 at 10:32 pm

Gary, how is mail in voting as insecure, or more insecure, than e-voting? With mail voting there is no opportunity for systematic hacking that is "selective" right down to the precint level, on a large scale.

I would like to hear your argument to the contrary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 10, 2006 at 3:47 pm

and here's another example - 18,000 "lost" votes
Web Link


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