Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Counting Votes

After a discussion yesterday with two people about electronic voting, I came to the conclusion that many people out there might not realize the problem with it. One guy, who I generally consider pretty astute, actually said to me "Well, how is it possible to not count them electronically...when has that ever been done?"

Tonight after it's too late to call, I will investigate what the voting system in Florida is like. I remember feeling reassured to learn that Cook County (my county) will be voting with a system that uses electronic counting, but allows your ballot to remain as a paper trail. However, what is currently happening in NH proves the importance placed in the count of the vote over the actual vote.

The caucus in Nevada was a way for the Nevada GOP to gain greater control over the voting process, because so few people knew what was going on, and so MANY irregularities existed in abject denial of state law. One thing I really liked however, was the importance placed in the group counting the vote together. Of course, deceptive things can also happen in the open, but the idea that local human being count the vote is important to me. It's great how in Nevada, your neighbor was counting the votes as you watched him or her count the votes.

This centralized scan-tron voting in Ohio is ridiculous. This is another step toward totally taking the vote away from the people. Ohio was on the forefront of that in the last election and it is on the forefront of that this election. It is a Ben Novak scenario of "Let's see how much we can get away with on a small scale before we try to get away with it on a grand scale."

ACLU Sues Over Paper Ballots in Ohio


Associated Press Writer

3:20 PM CST, January 28, 2008


The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge on Monday to block the March 4 presidential primary in Ohio's biggest county if it switches to a paper ballot system that doesn't allow voters to correct errors.

In a follow-up to a suit it filed Jan. 17, the ACLU of Ohio asked for a preliminary injunction against any election in Cuyahoga County if the switch is made.

The lawsuit argued that the proposed paper-ballot system would violate voters' constitutional rights because it doesn't allow them to correct errors on ballots before the ballots are cast.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland and has more than 1 million registered voters, plans to send all paper ballots from precincts to a central location to be scanned and counted.

The ACLU alleges that the optical-scan system and centralized vote tabulation would not give voters notice of ballot errors -- such as voting for two candidates for one office.

Opponents of the system say scanning should be done immediately at the precinct level to alert voters to such errors and allow them to correct invalid ballots.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley set a deadline of next Monday for the Ohio secretary of state and the county elections board to respond to the ACLU and a Feb. 5 hearing on the request for a preliminary injunction.

Jane Platten, director of the Cuyahoga County elections board, referred requests for comment to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, whose office handles legal matters for the elections board.

Mason and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the state's chief election officer, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.


When I find a guy who works with computers for a living, I like to ask his or her thoughts on computerized elections. Almost exclusively, I'm told how bad of an idea they are, and how untrustworthy computers can be. Returning to a time of balloting as described by this gentleman in this article, paper ballots, counted locally, results reported under risk of perjury, chain of custody meticulously established.


writing from Blue Island, IL

PS The method of counting the votes in the state of IL can be found here, for anyone interested in that.

PPS Ben, what would it take for a layman to walk into federal court and to request a switch to hand counted paper ballots for Super Tuesday?

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