Thursday, October 30, 2008

CNN: Straight Party Vote on Machines Not Way to Go

CNN Straight-ticket voting not straightforward
Straight-ticket voters may face confusion in North Carolina, where the presidential vote must be cast separately. Voters might think they are voting for the presidential choice when making the straight-party vote.

If the presidential race in North Carolina ends up being close, those missed votes could prove decisive.

"We unfortunately are the last state of the nation to do something of this nature. We are the only ones that separate it out," said Gary Bartlett, executive director of North Carolina's State Board of Elections.


Were Old Voting Machines More Reliable?; Aired October 30, 2008
O'BRIEN: Well, we have no early voting here in New York, and I'm not -- I'm going to be in town. So I'll be waiting in line on Tuesday.

But here's a couple of things. First of all, if you're in a state that has these computerized voting machines, a lot of people tell us, straight party line votes are not a great way to go, because for some reason the computer can get confused and can register the wrong vote, if you have some sort of ballot proposition, yes or no.

Second thing, if you're in a state that has computerized stuff with a paper trail, double check it. Make sure what you voted for on the computer matches what's on that paper ballot, whatever piece of paper you got to verify how you voted.

And finally, this seems like, you know, a "duh" thing, but don't be afraid to ask for help. We don't do this very often. We do it every couple of years. For that matter, the poll workers don't do it very often. Raise your hand and say, "I'm not sure I did this right," and those people there will help you.

Texas Voters Urged to Avoid Straight-Party Option, After Vote-Flip Complaints
By Kim Zetter October 29, 2008 | 3:21:43 PMCategories: E-Voting, Election '08
A number of voters in several Texas counties have been complaining that voting machines they used to cast early votes flipped their votes from Democratic choices to Republican ones.

Voters have reported that when they tried to vote a straight-party Democratic ticket, the machine flipped their choices to Republican candidates instead. In some cases, voters reported a problem only with the presidential race; in other cases voters reported the entire ballot being marked Republican by the machine.

The counties where the problems were reported use different kinds of voting machines from three of the top voting machine companies -- Election Systems & Software, Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions) and Hart InterCivic.

A Hart InterCivic spokesman said that at least one of the scenarios that a voter described isn't possible on the company's machines. A spokesman for ES&S said very few voters had complained and as far as he knew poll workers were never able to replicate the situation they described. The same ES&S machines are at the center of stories in West Virginia and Tennessee where voters also reported the machines flipping their votes, though the scenario in those states was slightly different since voters there weren't trying to vote a straight-party ticket when the problem occurred.

Voting a straight-party ballot or ticket is an option offered in 15 states whereby a voter can choose to vote straight-party Democrat or Republican and the ballot will automatically mark votes for candidates from that party on the ballot.

Because of the reports of problems, many election integrity groups are urging voters to forego the option.

On Election Day, will your vote be counted?

(CNN) — Watch Miles O'Brien's report about the security and reliability of modern voting technology.

Can voting machines be trusted?

2008.10.27 • 06:00 EDT
Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far

...Another problem apparently hit Texas late Friday, when a local paper in Mineral Wells, Texas (Palo Pinto County, west of Dallas), noted that there had been two huge vote flips. One woman said that when she tried to vote for a straight-party Democratic vote, the voting machine instead showed that she voted 100 percent Republican.

Now, if you have problems voting during early voting periods or on Nov. 4, there are numerous ways you can document your problems.

There are two major voting hotlines: 1-866-MYVOTE-1, and CNN's 1-877-GO-CNN-08. Others include 1-866-OUR-VOTE and 1-888-VOTE-TIP for fraud reports. Wired News is also encouraging its readers to contribute information for its Google Map mashup.

Update. So there is no confusion, the "Early Voting" eyewitness accounts of vote flipping on electronic voting machines cross political party lines. And there have been reports in Texas both touchscreen versions and the non-touch screen version, Hart Intercivic's product, have shown vote-flipping. (IN EARLY VOTING STATES)

Note as well, while reports show screen vote flipping, to date, we have not found any charge that review screen showed a different selection than the one intended by the voter.

Voters using an electronic voting machine are advised to review the screen ballot before pressing a CAST ballot button or touchscreen CAST ballot area. that is urgent material.

CNN's report and warning must be taken seriously. The network has teams of researchers who have surely checked out the veracity of anecdotal stories of problems associated with using electronic voting machines and utilizing the feature on the machines known as 'straight party voting.'

If we find out otherwise, if CNN, for instance cannot substantiate warnings of potential problems from actual problems, we will be sorely disappointed.

Read more on the issues of 'vote flipping' and 'straight party ticket' voting at sites like Voter Action, VotePA, and others of your choosing. We reference a couple of articles written by Joyce McCloy at Black Box Voting dotcom.

Note. We have specifically steered clear of Bev Harris's site at Black Box Voting dotorg. Unfortunately, a recent posting made there concerning a county with which I have specific experience is just flat out wrong and misleading.

In particular there is another situation in North Carolina as we posted previously.

Our understanding is there are two separate areas on the ballot which feature a box for President and a selection for 'straight party.'

If a voter selects only 'straight party,' and does not make a separate selection in the presidential column or block, there will NOT be an automatic fill-in for choice of President. This touches all political parties on the ballot in North Carolina.

It's possible the North Carolina unique situation is what has prompted CNN to make a blanket generalization about 'straight party voting.' Again, we're reviewing as best we can.

At any rate, please take time to read instructions at the precinct whether early voting or on November 4th.

Please review your selections whether you made these using an electronic voting machine or a paper ballot before you make the final move to CAST the ballot.

Net the Truth Online

Voting machines could bring Election Day glitches
With early voting under way in 31 states, these problems have already surfaced. In recent weeks, voters in West Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas have reported that touch-screen machines registered their votes, at least initially, for the wrong candidate or party...

...By 2006, some jurisdictions around the country were mothballing their DRE equipment in favor of optical-scan machines. Voters use a pen or pencil to mark paper ballots, in the way that students fill standardized tests, which are then fed into scanners that record the results.

Many observers believe that optical scanners -- especially ones that count the ballots at the election precinct, not at a central office -- are the most reliable voting method. Those systems' error rate in 2004, according to the University of Missouri study, was 0.7 percent.

If a voter has made a mistake filling out his or her ballot, the optical scanner will spit out the ballot and give the voter a chance to correct the error before leaving the polling place, Appel said.

"This is not a silver bullet. No technology is perfect," Appel told CNN. "But at least the optical scan ballots have a better resistance to [inaccuracies]."

So how can voters on Tuesday be absolutely sure that their ballots are being recorded with 100 percent accuracy? They can't, most election observers say. But election watchdogs and voting-system industry officials agree on one thing: People voting on touch-screen machines should take their time, read the ballot instructions carefully and not be afraid to ask for help.

"If the equipment is not participating the way you think it should be, don't hit the 'cast vote' button," said Rosemary Rodriguez, chair of the federal Election Assistance Commission. "Call an election official, a poll worker for help. Get it addressed immediately and on the spot. There is no going back if you hit the 'cast vote' button."

North Carolina straight-party feature may confuse voters
Associated Press
Oct. 28, 2008,

Election watchdogs fear that a long-standing feature of ballots in North Carolina could lead thousands of straight-party voters to mistakenly fail to vote for president and possibly produce a replay of the post-election battle in Florida eight years ago.

Since the 1960s, North Carolina ballots have allowed voters to cast a straight-party ticket — Democrat, Republican or Libertarian — by checking a single box, but state law requires voters to separately mark their choice for president.

On the ballot, the straight-party vote option appears below the presidential selection, and counties have included explanations and warnings that voters must mark the White House race separately. Nevertheless, election watchdogs fear hurried voters might ignore the explanations, see the straight-ticket option first and assume it includes a vote for president.

Report in Texas- Touchscreens Flipping Straight Ticket Votes by Joyce

We've raised concerns as well with vote-flipping and have posted elsewhere a reference to Black Box Voting dotcom's Joyce McCloy's piece regarding a Brad Blog article which appears to cite evidence vote-flipping has occurred both ways and even Democrat to third-party.

Wednesday, October 22. 2008
Voting machines switching votes from GOP to Dem - can we stop now???

McCloy references Brad Freidman's piece Votes Reportedly Flipping
from Repub to Dem in TN! October 22, 2008 by Brad Friedman.

1 comment:

NC Voter said...

Hi I saw your post in my google search.

North Carolina had some touchscreens flip votes in Guilford County during early voting. Flip was from McCain to Obama. Before you say something, the Election Director is a Democrat. We also had touchscreens flip votes from Bush to Kerry in Craven County NC in October 2004. (We have early voting) Here's the link to that Craven County situation:

Some machines scramble voter choices BY DAVID NIVENS Oct 25,2008

GUILFORD COUNTY - Laurie Edwards of Thomasville heard a strange voting story from her mother this week.

Turns out it's a fairly widespread problem with touch-screen voting machines.

Edwards said her mother, Liz Odom of Greensboro, had problems getting a voting machine in Jamestown to accept her presidential vote on Friday. She cancelled the vote until the machine accepted it.

"I have had several complaints of this happening, with the machines giving the Democratic vote when the Republican was selected," Bill Wright, chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party, told elections officials Friday. "These machines should be calibrated every day so this does not happen."

Election officials agreed to check the iVotronic machines more carefully and urged voters to study the review screens to make sure all their selections are correct before casting the electronic ballot.

"We know not everyone is pushing that review screen button," Wright said.

West Virginia voters have reported similar problems with touch-screen machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software, which is North Carolina's only machine vendor. Experts acknowledge that the machines can scramble vote selections if they are uncalibrated, causing a touch in the wrong place and an incorrect vote selection.

"Voters should tell us if they are having any problems," said Guilford County Elections Director George Gilbert. "If they don't tell us, then we can't know. I don't know how many of these are calibration problems. Some people touch the wrong spot."

Gilbert said older machines present the most problems. Election workers test voting machines before deploying them to voting sites.

"The new ones do not get out of calibration in two weeks of use," he said. "We will find the ones that are out of calibration."