Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far, and what you can do.

By | October 27, 2008

Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far, and what you can do.

Martinsburg man says machine switched Democratic vote to Republican 5 times … Roger Belozier, a veteran and retired postal worker from Berkeley County, experienced problems with electronic voting machines when he went to vote early in the Martinsburg courthouse.

“I reviewed my vote to make sure it was a straight Democratic ticket. But it switched my vote to Republican candidates five different times. I was able to cancel out the Republican votes.

“But I am scratching my head. Why did the machine switch my votes five different times? I asked someone to come over and explain it to me,” Belozier said on Wednesday. “I am concerned about a lot of people who might not notice or people who might be intimidated. They have to raise their hands and ask for some help.”

Tracy Lopez had the same problem when she went to vote in Martinsburg with her husband last week, according to a message she posted on a political Web site supporting Obama.

“When I pressed ‘Barack Obama,’ it checked off ‘John McCain,’ ” Lopez wrote. “I de-selected, and instead of taking any chances, I chose straight Democratic ticket rather than go through the whole thing and have any mistakes.”

Lopez, who declined to be interviewed personally, thought, “Maybe I had just been clumsy. But my husband confirmed that he had the same exact thing happen to him. He was on a different voting machine, voting at the same time I was.”

…Secretary of State Betty Ireland held a press conference on Wednesday to “discuss recent reports of purported problems regarding touch- screen voting machines.” Ireland vigorously defended iVotronic voting machines made by Election Systems & Software from Omaha, Neb. After some individuals reported voting problems, Ireland contacted county clerks and “advised them to examine their machines” and to recalibrate them if necessary…. – sgm

How about this: fire Secretary of State Betty Ireland and throw these machines in the garbage heap where they belong. Recalibrate my butt. What she means by “recalibrate” is make the vote flip fraud not show up to the voting individual, which is easily done with proprietary software. An electronic vote is a vote thrown away.

I noted in passing last week that West Virginia has had the distinct honor of being the first state in the union to report problems (surprise! surprise!) with its electronic voting systems. There are now also reports that similar problems have been happening in Tennessee and Texas as well. No doubt these won’t be the last.

So what exactly has happened? Largely, the problem has been what’s been dubbed “vote flipping” or “vote switching” — which is exactly what it sounds like. According to a report by my buddy Scott Finn over at West Virginia Public Broadcasting from late last week:

Voters in at least two West Virginia counties — Jackson and Putnam — say electronic voting machines are switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

The two county clerks, both Republicans, say they don’t think there’s a problem. But these voting problems have gotten the attention of everyone from CNN to liberal website The Huffington Post.

So far, eight voters from Jackson and Putnam counties have come forward to say their electronic voting machines kept changing their votes from Democrats to Republicans — usually, from Obama to McCain.

Wired News also reports that Ohio and Berkeley counties have been having similar problems.

It appears that some of the problems have to do with the fact that the software is simply faulty, and requires “recalibration” by voting officials.

According to an account in the Decatur County Chronicle:

“The way the machine is set up, when you are standing in front of it and seeing it at a certain angle, it looks like you are touching the middle (of the button) when you are actually touching the line above it,” Box said.

[Election Commissioner Rick Box] and fellow Election Commissioner Grafton Dodd tested the machines on Monday. Dodd could not be reached for comment but Box said he found the area of the screen where the buttons for President are located are extremely close together. He blames the problem in part on poor design by software programmers, and adds that there may be sensitivity issues with the screen itself.

In other words, it’s the voter’s fault. … – salon

This should piss you off, but there are things you can still do to protect the vote. Get involved in your area (or go document the results in a place you suspect will have vote fraud). Here are some tips from blackboxvoting.org.

6 thoughts on “Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far, and what you can do.

  1. Ann

    Damn right! it pisses me off.

    I can’t believe people are so naive to think what happened previously won’t happen again.

    What’s the point in having an election if the group/party in control/power decides who wins even before the election? Ok, so campaigns are a lot of show, but the election itself?

    Putin in far-off Russia kind’a predicted something like is going to happen.

  2. TROBlog@yahoo.com

    So, like, did ACORN get ahold of these machines?

    Or did the same people who disabled the Address Verification System on the Obama donation website (and Murtha and some other Democrats) mess with these machines?

  3. Xeno

    Or, did Katherine Harris get to them? Perhaps Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus) got to them (It recorded 4,258 votes for Bush from 638 voters). Perhaps the same electronic voting machine from a precinct in Youngstown, Ohio, was used, the one that “initially recorded a negative 25 million votes for Kerry.” And so on…

    You might want to read the other side of the ACORN story.

    So Republicans are attacking Acorn for voter fraud. There’s fraud alright–not by Acorn, but against Acorn. Acorn paid people to register voters a a per registration basis. Incentive pay. Nice. Well, when given the right incentive, people will do just about anything, including putting fictitious names on voter registration cards.Now, fictitious people can’t vote. Nor can real people with multiple registrations vote more than once; few people would take that kind of risk (heavy fines and jail time).So what’s McCain’s beef? That Acorn was ripped off by people it paid to get real registrations?

  4. Ann

    The below from slate.com (i.e. Washington Post) which, of course, says it’s all not that bad – a lot of rhetoric.

    This is too serious an issue. As I see it disenfranchisement of merely one, only one vote is an insult to our democratic values.

    How Bad Are Electronic Voting Machines?
    Do they really fail one out of five times?

    By Nina Shen Rastogi
    Posted Monday, Oct. 27, 2008

    Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of State last week calling for paper ballots to be provided in any precinct where half the voting machines fail on Election Day. The complaint asserts that 10 percent to 20 percent of the direct-recording electronic voting machines used in Pennsylvania are likely to fail on Nov. 4. The machines will be used in 34 percent of counties around the United States. Are they really so bad that they fail one out of five times?

    No. The 10 percent to 20 percent figure cited in the Pennsylvania lawsuit is somewhat misleading. The low estimate comes from an opinion piece published by the National Academy of Engineering last year. According to the author, Michael Ian Shamos, “it has been reported anecdotally” that 10 percent of the machines fail “in some respect” on Election Day. That means the machine required some technical intervention, not that it was necessarily taken out of service. The high estimate of 20 percent comes from a 2005 study conducted by the state of California.* In that paper, the authors were testing only one of the six machines used in Pennsylvania—the Diebold (now Premier) AccuVote TSX, a machine whose software has since been updated. Furthermore, 14 of the 34 documented failures were printer jams, which won’t be a problem in Pennsylvania since the state doesn’t produce paper voting receipts.

    The fact is that no one really knows how often electronic voting machines fail. …


  5. Lona Jones

    Please get the word out:



    When I cast an early vote yesterday at Palo Pinto County Court House, my vote was switched from Democrat to Republican right in front of my face – twice! And it has happened to others in Texas.

    I touched the button to vote a straight Democratic ticket and a straight Republican ticket was recorded. Thinking I may have touched the wrong button, I went back to the prior screen and changed the vote to Democrat again. The next screen said “Do you want to replace your Republican vote to a Democrat vote?” I indicated “Yes” and the most amazing thing happened…. a straight Republican ticket was once again recorded!!! A voter assistant said, “Oh yes, we have lots of problems with these machines.” I then refused to use that machine again, and voted on a different machine.

    I came home and search the Net for an explanation. I discovered that Palo Pinto County, TX uses ES&S, iVotronic DRE touch screen voting equipment. Further, I discovered hundreds of complaints and many law suits about using ES&S machines, saying they either dropped Democrat votes altogether, or changed Democrat votes to Republican!! (no reports of the reverse)

  6. Ann

    “…I discovered hundreds of complaints and many law suits about using ES&S machines, saying they either dropped Democrat votes altogether, or changed Democrat votes to Republican!! (no reports of the reverse)…”

    Quite revealing isn’t it?

    Thanks, Lona Jones

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