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November 13, 2003

Nothing to see here, move along. Observes Dan Gillmor:
61 Democrats in the U.S. House have cosponsored a bill requiring voter-verifiable paper printouts, but not a single Republican has signed on—and the bill is buried in committee.
But there’s nothing to be suspicious about. Perish the thought.

MORE: Julian Sanchez has a measured and excellent piece on the subject in Reason. [06:57 PM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Nothing to see here, move along.:

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 10:49 AM:

Gore Vidal had an op-ed/interview yesterday on this and other Bush horrors.

Tom DeLay ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2003, 09:54 PM:

Why, when our nation is faced with a grave terrorist threat from without and a creeping moral degenerecy within, do you waste the people's time and attention on complete non-issues like this? The American People may rest assured that the electronic voting machines produced by the hard-working folks at Diebold function exactly as intended and will prove fair and accurate during the 2004 presidential election.

I have complete confidence that the vote tallies will reflect the correct outcome.


Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 12:47 PM:

Mr Delay (oops, DeLay): I feel certain you meant "fair and balanced" in precisely the sense used by Fox News.

the talking dog ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2003, 09:56 PM:

WEll, boys and girls-- this one's the ballgame. Whether the voting machine fiasco is stopped in yet another filibuster (I don't know how) or in a court case, if its not stopped, we are looking at the hijacking of democracy right at the source. I have never seen a report of a single mistake by any machine by Diebold or its subsidiaries in favor of a Democratic candidate, though I have heard numeverous reports of mistakes...

Tom DeLay ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 12:07 PM:

I think you will find that the recall election in California proves that Diebold machines are guaranteed to return the correct result. Three counties using these fine Diebold products... Alameda, Kern, and Plumas... all had undervote totals of 0 on the recall question. The average rate was 4.6%!

See? The Diebold machines are so fair and accurate that not a *single* one of the 600,000+ votes in these counties failed to vote on the first question. For comparison, almost 60,000 voters in San Diego (with a vote total only slightly higher than the three counties combined) failed to vote on the first question.

ZERO versus 60,000!

Stop your whining, if we can only get Diebold machines in every county, all problems will be solved!


David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 12:20 PM:

Alameda and Plumas were the only counties using Diebold Accu-Vote touch screens. I would be willing to entertain the argument that these machines will not let you continue without voting on the first question. Has anyone used a Diebold AccuVote touch screen?

However, Kern was one of 13 counties using Diebold Accu-Vote OS (optical scan) machines, and the other 12 counties all had undervotes in line with the rest of the state.


Zizka ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2003, 02:26 PM:

My take is that the Republicans expect protests of the Diebold machines and are all ready with an orchestrated counter-attack claiming that Democrats are unwilling to accept the results of the democratic process, but want to steal the election. So we'll end up with a Bush caretaker government until the dispute is resolved.

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 01:59 AM:

Has anyone used a Diebold AccuVote touch screen?

I live in Alameda County and have voted on a touch-screen machine twice now. I can't say whether or not the machine will let you vote on other questions without voting on the first one, but there's been no indication in either the instructions or the UI that you have to vote on the first question. I've certainly skipped ballot questions using the Diebolds.

I'll also be voting absentee in the future. I won't get a kewl "I Touched the Future" sticker, but I'm willing to give that up to make sure there's more of a paper trail.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 02:30 AM:

Zizka, I think that's why we need to get the word out now, so that the public and any neutral authorities are aware of the possibility of such fraud. If you go in after an election and try to convince a Secretary of State, or a District Attorney, or a newspaper to investigate a suspicious election, by the time you've started educating them on all the background about the system's vulnerabilities, it will be too late. No one will want to re-open that can of worms; the winner will have been sworn in, and the honeymoon period will have started; anyone still arguing about the election is just a sore loser. But if people like that hear beforehand about the sorts of things we're afraid could happen, then after an election, we can go to them and say "Remember what we said might happen? Here's a list of the districts where it did in fact happen."

If we don't thoroughly air the idea in advance, then the wrong-doers have the advantage, because they won't have to face any doubts. "Did it really happen the way we think it did? Are we going to have egg on our faces if we're wrong?" The wrong-doers will be able to respond immediately and with certainty to any doubters.

Of course, in order for this to work, we also have to be capable of winning a fair election, if we're lucky enough to get one. No one's going to care much about cheating that doesn't affect the outcome of a race.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2003, 05:56 AM:

Two words.

Paper ballots.

Steve ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2003, 04:23 PM:

Well, the hammer (or at least a hammer) has dropped in Fairfax County, Virginia, where a Republican candidate for school board lost a close race.

At-large School Board member Rita S. Thompson, who narrowly lost reelection, said she is considering a challenge because of problems with voting machines. Voters in three precincts said in interviews that when they attempted to vote for her, the machines initially displayed an "x" next to her name but then, after a few seconds, the "x" disappeared.

Thompson has asked that electoral board staff members test every machine to determine the extent of such problems, and she said she is considering filing a lawsuit to force them to do so.

County election officials tried one of the machines in question and discovered that the glitch occurred about "one out of a hundred tries," Luca said. She added that she would take Thompson's request "under serious consideration."

Having a paper trail for audits is crucial and events like these are going to start making it clear that it should be a bipartisan issue. We wouldn't tolerate ATM machines with a 1% error rate.

T. V. ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 09:42 AM:

"We wouldn't tolerate ATM machines with a 1% error rate."

Sure we would--if the error was always in our favor.

Alex Steffen ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2003, 09:08 PM:

What TV said. It's natural but despicable that the Repugs don't feel a great urgency here - we still shouldn't let 'em get away with it.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2003, 12:12 AM:

Okay. What's the catch?