Sunday, October 19, 2008

Voting Machine Fraud a Real Possibility

This year's election is seeing an unprecedented amount of early voting in many precincts, and along with nearly universal use of voting machines or electronic tabulators, this will probably be the year with the highest probability of intentional voting fraud.

Connecticut is less likely to have any deliberate tampering because the optical scanners are just counting machines that tabulate the ballot. The ballot itself IS the vote, and the machine simply speeds the counting. In the event of a recount, the ballots can be sent through a different machine or hand-counted.

Early voting reports from several precincts in West Virginia the use the fully electronic machines (no paper trail) seem to indicate the possibility of a coordinated attempt to steal votes from Barack Obama and deliver them to John McCain. This nightmare scenario makes me think that unless Obama maintains at least a 10-point lead in important swing states, there's a very real chance the election may be stolen by electronic voting fraud.

From the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette-Mail:
WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for "Barack Obama" kept flipping to "John McCain".

In both counties, Republicans are responsible for overseeing elections. Both county clerks said the problem is isolated.


Shelba Ketchum, a 69-year-old nurse retired from Thomas Memorial Hospital, described what happened Friday at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.

"I pushed buttons and they all came up Republican," she said. "I hit Obama and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.

"I asked them for a printout of my votes," Ketchum said. "But they said it was in the machine and I could not get it. I did not feel right when I left the courthouse. My son felt the same way.

"I heard from some other people they also had trouble. But no one in there knew how to fix it," said Ketchum, who is not related to Menis Ketchum, a Democratic Supreme Court candidate.
The scary thing about this is how there are NO reports so far of the machines switching votes from John McCain TO Barack Obama. The only reports have been to McCain FROM Obama.

This is one reason why the Youtube "Video Your Vote" project may be critically important to documenting possible voting machine tampering. From ComputerWorld:
YouTube has announced plans to allow voters to upload their voting experiences to the video social network. YouTube announced yesterday that it has partnered with PBS to create a Video Your Vote YouTube channel to collect the massive amount of polling place video expected from users. These videos will be used to create a library of online Election Day footage, YouTube said.
So, if early voters in states that have reported voting machine irregularities manage to video their vote being changed by the machine from Obama to McCain, it will help prove that something is going on with the machines, and may help launch critical pre-election day investigations to potential voter fraud.

Because it would be much more helpful to have proof of the election being stolen BEFORE it happens!


Bob Symmes said...

One of the advantages of the optical scan systems we use in CT is the existence of a "paper trail" -- the actual ballots.

Additionally, the machines as tested with ballots a few days before the election. The public can watch this process...simply call your registrars and ask when they'll be testing the machines.

CT Bob said...

Yeah, the Connecticut machines don't worry me nearly as much as those ATM-style "Red State Specials", that can be programmed to deliver extra votes to the candidate of their choice.

Bob Symmes said...

Well, the Presidential balloting process worries ME. I'm getting very little guidance from SOTS on how to prevent a person from voting at the poll then casting a Presidential ballot....

CT Bob said...

I'm not following you. Is there a difference between voting and casting a ballot? Please clarify.

Bob Symmes said...

During a Presidential election, a voter can show up at a central voting location (in this case, West Haven City Hall) and, by signing an affidavit, cast a vote only for Presidential electors.

There are few safeguards to prevent a voter from going to his or her regular polling place & voting in the regular way, then going to the Presidential polling place and voting for President again.....

CT Bob said...

Wouldn't the affidavit probably include a clause stating that the voter agrees to not vote twice for President? In any case, who would risk perjuring them self in order to cast one more vote?

I'm sure if say 500 people showed up at town hall to sign affidavits, somebody would look into whether these people also showed up to vote at their regular voting place. It's too high risk for a very low return.

Bob Symmes said...

Actually, in West Haven, 1,193 people cast Presidential Ballots in 2004. Working on preventing double-dipping, rather than addressing the problem after the fact.

CT Bob said...

Really? Almost 1200 people (out of what, about 20,000?) went through the trouble to sign affidavits at town hall rather than voting at their regular polling place? Am I missing something here?

Bob Symmes said...

(out of -- in 2004 -- 31,000 (16,000 Dem, 3,000 Rep, 12,000 Ind/Oth) I worked the Presidential in 2004 - people finished voting at 10:00 pm - when we started counting ballots. The people who voted were in line as of 8:00 pm.

We've now added 7,300 voters...those whose mailed registrations are postmarked after today CANNOT vote on Nov. 4, except for Presidential. Those who WALK-IN to register can do so until Oct 28th & vote in Nov 4th election.

Off the subject, though...I cannot find a way to prevent (until after the fact, which--while the person will be fined, their duplicate vote still counts) a person can cast TWO votes for President.

This is a problem of NATIONAL law, compounded by CT's refusal to update their method of checking voters at the polls (we still use the system designed by Gov. Wilbur Cross -- during the 1930's)