Monday, November 10, 2008

Minnesota Paper Ballots Used Optical Scanner Readers

Were there any optical scan machine breakdowns?

It isn't so unusual for voters to skip some races in a Presidential contest which features Senate and House races. Some voters might not like either candidate. What should happen with the absentee paper ballots and other paper ballots in all states there should be a selection for None of the Above or No Candidate Preference. That way the person should be instructed to make selections of some sort. Not leave anything blank.

What's disturbing there already, at least so far in the Coleman Franken Senate race, 100 so-called 'missing' votes were newly discovered! somebody needs to check digital scanner memory against paper ballots, but it is possible is it not to fix both to reflect whatever one wants. Just create a new batch of ballots, and match to a new memory card. It could happen.

Wait and See.

Net the Truth Online

What's Happening In Minnesota?
Powerline ^ | November 7, 2008 | John Hinderaker

Posted on Friday, November 07, 2008 5:47:02 PM by Caleb1411

When the polls closed Tuesday evening, Minnesota's Secretary of State's office showed that Norm Coleman had a 725-vote win in his closely contested race against Al Franken. By the next morning, however, Coleman's victory was already shrinking. As various precincts and county auditors have "corrected" their totals, Coleman's lead has dropped to a mere 237 votes. Minnesota Republicans are concerned that the fix may be in.

An example of the kind of thing now going on was reported in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Just as Secretary of State Mark Ritchie was explaining to reporters the recount process in one of the narrowest elections in Minnesota history, an aide rushed in with news: Pine County's Partridge Township had revised its vote total upward -- another 100 votes for Democratic candidate Al Franken, putting him within .011 percentage points of Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman.

The reason for the change? Exhausted county officials had accidentally entered 24 for Franken instead of 124 when the county's final votes were tallied at 5:25 Wednesday morning.

Currently, the Minnesota Secretary of State's office shows the Franken's total in Partridge Township as 129, not 124. Still, the Partridge story is the most coherent explanation we've gotten so far as to why vote totals have repeatedly been adjusted to Franken's advantage.

Optical scan ballots are used nearly everywhere in Minnesota. The system is simple: once the polls close, absentee ballots are run through the machines with Republican and Democratic poll watchers both present. The machines are then locked down. The machine prints a tape that looks like a grocery store printout that summarizes the number of votes cast for each candidate in each race. At the same time, the totals are uploaded electronically, via a secure phone line connected to the box, to the county where the precinct is located; from there, they are reported to the Secretary of State. The tape showing the precinct's vote totals is signed by the precinct's election judge and is required to be publicly displayed...

UPDATE: Hot off the press, the first apparent evidence of fraud. Last night at around 7:30, a precinct in Mountain Iron, St. Louis County, mysteriously updated its vote total to add 100 new votes--all 100 for Barack Obama and Al Franken.

Mountain Iron uses optical scanning, so the Coleman campaign asked for a copy of the tape documenting the ballots cast on election night. St. Louis County responded by providing a tape that includes the newly-added 100 votes, and is dated November 2--the Sunday before the election. St. Louis County reportedly denies being able to produce the genuine tape from election night, even though Minnesota law, as I understand it, requires that tape to be signed by the election judges and publicly displayed.

Nov 7, 2008 6:21 pm US/Central
Most Senate Undervote In Ballots From Obama Turf
ST. PAUL (AP) ― An Associated Press analysis of the nearly 25,000-vote difference in presidential and Senate race tallies shows that most ballots lacking a recorded Minnesota Senate vote were cast in counties won by Democrat Barack Obama.

The finding could have implications for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, who are headed for a recount separated by the thinnest of margins -- a couple hundred votes, or about 0.01 percent.

Though some voters may have intentionally bypassed the race, others may have mismarked their ballot or optical scanning machines may have misread them. A recount due to begin Nov. 19 will use manual inspection to detect such ballots.

Three counties -- Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis -- account for 10,540 votes in the dropoff between the two races. Each saw Obama win with 63 percent or more...

...There's one more critical statistic: About 8,900 people weren't recorded as voting for president, according to county-by-county turnout estimates kept by the Secretary of State. That nearly 9,000 people would skip the closely watched race is questionable, raising the possibility that as many as 33,700 ballots might be subject to change in a hand recount.

Minnesota ballots are fed into optical scanners, which depend on voters filling in ovals to make their choice.

Kim Brace, president of the consulting firm Election Data Services Inc., said there's no reason a ballot without a vote for a particular race would be rejected.

"Usually they're set to kick back to the voter if there is an overvote," said Brace, who has been an expert witness in court cases stemming from disputed elections. "But in most instances they're not set to kick back to the voter if there is an undervote. After all, the public has a right to not vote for somebody for a particular office."

What recount teams will be looking for is whether stray or light marks on ballots signaled a voters' preference.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, said any process involving humans and machines is subject to error.

"Humans are marking ballots and some humans may not have pressed hard enough in the oval so the machine may not have caught their ballot's intention," Ritchie said. "The recount is designed to make sure every eligible ballot is included."

Michael Shamos, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who studies election systems, said the dropoff didn't strike him as suspiciously large.

"All that means to me is they consider the presidential race more important than the Senate race," he said. "They either didn't make up their mind. They didn't care. They didn't make a mark in that race."

To be sure, similar dropoffs have happened in the past.

In 2000, the last year with both races on Minnesota's ballot, about 19,000 presidential voters were not recorded as casting a Senate vote. Fewer people voted that year, making the dropout rate similar to this year's.

No comments: