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President Obama mentioned last night that we need to fix the voting system.  Yes, definitely.

Fortunately, making our voting system work better isn't hard, we just need to look to people who've spent the time to figure it out.  Congress hasn't spent the time to research it.  Neither have voting machine companies, who simply want to sell their products to a captive market.

Who has?

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen won the Kennedy award a few years back for her incredible work in figuring out how to fix the modern broken voting system.  At the time, California was much like many states, with horrible electronic voting machines that have unverifiable and buggy software, bad user interfaces that sometimes don't work, and high expense and limited support which makes it hard to put out a lot of them to handle high voter turnout.

What did she do?  She began by starting the California "top to bottom review" of voting systems.  As we all know, many popular electronic voting systems are fundamentally flawed.  Unfortunately, many of the results came from the outside, and were both narrow and not taken seriously within government.  Bowen commissioned a study of California's voting machines to be conducted by actual computer security experts (led by two highly respected University of California computer science professors).  When she began this study, there was plenty of complaint from the usual quarters (especially the voting machine vendors) about how it was paranoia to worry about broken electronic voting machines and how counties should keep using broken machines since they had already overpaid for them.

The results were both groundbreaking and what we would expect - all three electronic voting systems in California were fatally flawed (a single voter could create a virus to compromise an entire state-wide election, among other problems).  Bowen decertified all the machines and returned us to optical-scan paper ballots, and has led other secretaries of state across the nation to re-examine their voting systems.  She was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award for her work on voting reform.

So, what's the answer?  It's actually remarkably simple:

  1. Optical-scan paper ballots that can be filled out using an ordinary black pen. This makes fraud hard, is inexpensive, doesn’t require (limited-in-number) machines that then cause lines to grow long.
  2. Mandatory random hand recount of 1% of ballots, followed by increasing fractions for close races.
  3. Optionally, a limited number of electronic voting machines that print optical scan ballots for those who have bad eyesight.

Really, that's it.  There are of course policy issues regarding early voting, and the like, but the actual machinery of the voting itself is straightforward, and we just need to apply the learned wisdom of Sec. Bowen and her team across the country.


If you want to learn more about how to fix the voting system, please listen to Debra Bowen's brilliant talk, Dr. Strangevote or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Paper Ballot.  Her talk is a bit wonky but is filled with information, and when I first heard it a few years back I really felt like I got a grasp of what the challenges are and how the solution is actually simple.

Originally posted to barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

    by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:17:13 PM PST

  •  OHio Has Optical Scanners and Had Hours-Long (86+ / 0-)

    lines. There have to be legal ways to ensure sufficient polling places, supplies of ballots, and other guarantees that conventional vote suppression won't happen.

    As an ex programmer I don't know why we need any machines except perhaps for visually or mobility challenged voters.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:21:14 PM PST

  •  Who needs a manual transmission 18-wheeler... (44+ / 0-)

    ...when all you're trying to do is take a quick trip to the store to get some milk?

    Simple is good. And while electronic machines can leave a mechanically produced paper trail, this is a far simpler—and more elegant—solution.

  •  I think Debra Bowen has been fantastic. (45+ / 0-)

    I would love to see her run for higher office after her term is up.  Kinda too bad she didn't go for DiFi's seat this year, but I'd be even happier to have her as governor.  We could really use someone with her skills and focus.

  •  sounds reasonable. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, cotterperson, glorificus, stagemom

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:46:54 PM PST

  •  I vote on a machine. She didn't outlaw all (15+ / 0-)

    voting machines. Some counties, mine for instance (Orange County), uses machines. They had to be pre approved for use by the state. I believe Diebold, however, WAS banned.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:55:10 PM PST

    •  True, it isn't 100% yet. (6+ / 0-)

      As you can see on this map, two CA counties still use DREs (I'm not sure why they haven't switched, but maybe the Sec. of State can't force them legally):

      http://www.verifiedvoting.org/...

      The rest of the counties are using optical scan paper ballots (usually with one electronic voting machine per polling place for those with poor eyesight).

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 06:58:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Was Going to Say (6+ / 0-)

      I'm in California and have voted on machines in the last 3 cycles.  The machines have you punch in your vote choices, and then a paper version retained by the machine, not you, prints and gives you a non-optical confirmation of your choices before you select "Cast Ballot." So she definitely did not outlaw machines.  What is the law here is that if you say "No machine, thank you", you are handed a good ole fashioned optical scan capable paper ballot. =)

      •  I think this is due to certain counties lagging (0+ / 0-)

        She couldn't do it unilaterally because many counties complained that they spent all this money on electronic systems (plus they probably didn't care about the security vulnerabilities she uncovered), but most have switched and only use the DREs for those with bad eyesight.

        contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

        by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:26:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Instead of "Guessing" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          As verified voting has done, why not just go to the Secretary of State's website itself and see what the requirement actually is? (Note that this is Debra Bowen's website):

          All direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used after January 1, 2006, must have an accessible voter-verified paper audit trail, pursuant to California Elections Code Section 19250. All voters voting on an electronic voting machine should review and verify their ballot choices on this printed paper record, prior to finalizing and casting their ballot. Once the ballot is cast, this paper record of the ballot is retained inside the voting machine as part of the election audit trail to verify the accuracy of the votes recorded. In accordance with California law, voters do not get a printed paper record of their vote choices.
          So you're just wrong about this being "counties lagging." Debra Bowen's office has authorized the use of these machines.  There is no dispute about that.  
          •  I know about that - that's a separate issue (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HudsonValleyMark, enhydra lutris

            That blurb from her site is about the paper trail.

            That doesn't resolve the question about why some counties have continued to use DREs at all (two counties it appears).  One person above said OC filed a lawsuit.  I don't know about San Mateo.

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:55:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  clarification on DRE use (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              barath, trumpeter

              Many California counties use DREs to satisfy the accessibility requirements. It appears that only two counties use them as the 'standard' equipment.

              Those two counties use Hart systems, which IIRC fared somewhat better in the TTBR than the others.

              Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
              Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

              by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:00:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

                I didn't know why those counties are still using DREs as the standard equipment.  (Well the OC lawsuit may be why.)

                I think in her talk Bowen mentions that DREs for accessibility is okay, though that using a touchscreen to produce a physical ballot is better.

                contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:03:52 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Do Me a Favor (0+ / 0-)

                Click through any (or all) of the counties actually shown at the links on the California secretary of state website.  There are multiple types of DRE voting machines, including the Hart systems being used in San Mateo County.  Most counties use some form of them.  Whether for accessibility reasons or convenience, they are in use and people are offered the opportunity to use them in lieu of optical scan balloting.  It's truly the voters choice, at least if I believe the Secretary of State upon which this diary relies (and I am sure a lot more willing to believe her website than Verified Voting on this issue.)

                •  no idea why you are teeing off on Verified Voting (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  barath

                  It's a very common practice to distinguish between standard and accessible voting equipment. I don't think anyone said that voters didn't get to choose which to use. Certainly Verified Voting didn't, nor did I.

                  Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
                  Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

                  by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:17:24 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm Not (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    wu ming

                    But the diarist says that's where he/she got his/her incorrect information about the current state of voting machines in California.  Frankly, it's outdated (for example, the speech from Secretary of State Bowen, who I adore and wish could be cloned and installed in every state) is from 2008.  It's not that hard to admit, but so far there is no admission, just a lot of "guessing" about the Secretary of State not having the power to mandate counties to use particular machines -- showing a really deep misunderstanding about exactly how much power California vests in the Secretary of State, by the way -- or just "a couple" of counties lagging.

                    Verified Voting has done great work over the years and my head-shaking is not about the organization, it's about the overreliance on information that purportedly comes from VV in this diary when it comes to the current state of voting in California.

                    •  what incorrect information? (0+ / 0-)

                      If you're gonna tell people to click through, I think it would be fair to click through yourself, before accusing Verified Voting of "guessing" about anything.

                      As for Kossacks' guesses about why DREs weren't banned, and why two counties use them as standard equipment, that's a whole 'nother topic, and fair game.

                      And I did miss that barath wrote that the DREs are "for those with bad eyesight." They have lots of accessibility features, and some people prefer them for a variety of reasons.

                      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
                      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

                      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:31:11 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  OK This is Just You (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wu ming

              Not being willing to accept that her office has, contrary to what you read on verifiedvoting, authorized continued use of the machines as long as they meet the paper trail requirements for use. A voter always has the option of an optical scan paper ballot, but that's what it is, an option.

              The Orange County lawsuit is what led to this requirement, not followed it.  Spend some time clicking on the county by county links and youl will see that use of voting machines continues to be statewide, absent a few very small counties.

              I can't help you with your unwillingess to accept that on this, your source of information is just wrong/out of date.  I just hope that others aren't quite so unwilling to accept that the situation is not what you believe when it comes to the status of voting by machine here in California.

              •  Sigh... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nanorich

                I'm not sure there's anything contentious here...

                Listen to her talk.  She makes the case for going all optical scan, but what her ideal system is and what she had to implement in CA don't have to match.

                Yes, we still have DREs with paper trails in CA, and yes voters have the choice to use them, but only the DREs that passed the security review and only in that configuration.  In the several times I was a poll worker under her new system we probably had under 10 voters use the DRE machine at our precinct over the course of the entire day, and those were folks who had a hard time reading the small print on the paper ballot.

                contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:20:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You Do Know that the Talk (0+ / 0-)

                  You have linked is from 2008, right?

                  •  Um, yes... (0+ / 0-)

                    I say that in the diary ("few years back").  Why does that matter?  Her talk is about the process by which she concluded that optical scan with random recount is the best approach, and also about all the issues to consider in elections in general.  It's just as informative of a talk now as it was a few years back.

                    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                    by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:27:19 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It Matters Because (0+ / 0-)

                      Despite her stated opinion 4 years ago, the system that she has actually implemented in California does not eschew DRE technology - it improves upon it by requiring a paper trail, and always includes the option of an optical scan ballot. Thus, a diary relying upon her words from 4 years ago to advocate for use nationwide of an exclusively optical scan system system that she herself, when she has the power to do so, didn't implement for her own state is misleading.  If Ms. Bowen found a way to merge the best of both worlds, it's shown that her thinking has evolved over the years.  That's the type of thing that should be clearly disclosed if you are going to rely upon her words from 4 years ago to make your arguments.

                      •  Ugh. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        nanorich

                        Ok, I don't really know where you're going with this, but it seems you like arguing, and I have to get to work.

                        I think it's pretty straightforward.  Listen to her talk and the Q&A that follows.  She argues for optical scan with random recount.  She acknowledges accessibility is an issue (which is why there are DREs (only the semi-secure ones) in some counties, but usually limited in number and limited in use; why a couple counties use them primarily was my only question mark).  What she did in CA follows from her talk, and it also seems clear from what she says that if there were a way of getting rid of DREs altogether she'd be for it.

                        As for legal matters of what authority she has and what the counties have, and how or why she can or can't compel them to change - I'm not a lawyer, and this diary isn't about that anyway.  It's about the ideas.

                        contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                        by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:39:35 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I Am a Lawyer (0+ / 0-)

                          In California.  So I'm not speaking lightly about the power of the Office of Secretary of State.  But I agree it's irrelevant except for one thing:  I mentioned the law only because YOU first speculated about what power she does, or does not have, to implement her (now no longer existing if you go by what she's done when she has the power) vision from 4 years ago.  Had you not done that, the law would have never been discussed at all.

                          We are obviously not going to see eye to eye, but since I've made my point and you've made yours, it's all good.

    •  Yes, for cause. (0+ / 0-)
      I believe Diebold, however, WAS banned.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 09:12:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We had one (0+ / 0-)

      in the precinct where I vote, but most people shunned it.

      I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

      by trumpeter on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:46:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We used to have the optical scanners (26+ / 0-)

    and marked our ballots with felt-tip pens but they got rid of all those machines and now we have touch screen machines with no paper trail.  

    Another advantage of the paper ballots is many people can be voting at one time.  We used to sit at cafeteria tables at the local elementary school with  cardboard dividers so we couldn't see how anyone else was voting.  Then we walked to the scanner and put our ballot in and were done.  We rarely had to wait in line more than a couple minutes.  Now we have to stand at the voting machine to read all the ballot questions and it creates longer lines.

    •  Exactly! (25+ / 0-)
      Another advantage of the paper ballots is many people can be voting at one time.  We used to sit at cafeteria tables at the local elementary school with  cardboard dividers so we couldn't see how anyone else was voting.  Then we walked to the scanner and put our ballot in and were done.  We rarely had to wait in line more than a couple minutes.  Now we have to stand at the voting machine to read all the ballot questions and it creates longer lines.
      And paper ballots are also much much cheaper than electronic voting machines.  Instead of counties having to buy 5 or 10 overpriced voting machines per polling place, they only have to buy one relatively cheap optical scanner.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:00:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's how I voted yesterday. (11+ / 0-)

      The only thing that gave me pause was when I asked the person attending the machine whether I should put it in face up. Probably a silly question, but the answer surprised me: "Either way."

      I guess the scanners can recognize the pages electronically now -- apparently both sides at the same time. If someone knows for sure, please tell me!

      It bothers me that the machines are made by for-profit companies. I'd rather vote on paper, open the public school classrooms for quick counting in small batches, and call it in. Any doubt can be checked by re-counting. Sure, people can steal ballot boxes and stuff, like they used to, but I trust people more than for-profit machines!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:12:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They can scan both sides at once (13+ / 0-)

        I'm glad they designed the machines that way because it makes it much easier at the polling place.

        I too don't really like having to trust the machines, which is why Debra Bowen's strategy is to work around having to trust any one person or vendor: different vendors can be used as long as they implement the same standard, and a hand recount of a statistically-significant sample in all elections is there to catch cases where the machines are still doing the wrong thing.

        contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

        by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:16:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yo Barath- one more piece of tech to add: (7+ / 0-)

          Universal close-up audio & video surveillance, with recording, of the entire counting process in every precinct.

          This would be simple to implement: webcams with mics mounted in the counting rooms, some focused on the entire room from various angles, some focused in close-up mode on the actual counting process itself.  

          Broadcast all of that online, and anyone who wishes can watch, up close & personal.

          Then if someone sees something questionable, they can pick up the phone and call Election Protection or some state agency, which can intervene directly and rapidly at the location where the questionable event occurred.  The surveillance files for that point in time can be reviewed, and if needed, the batch of ballots in question can be re-counted.

          Storage capacity is cheap, and successful examples of mass data collection are well known.  There's no reason not to do this.

          Beyond that, why not hand count everything while watching it all via webcam?  Do them in small batches, every ballot passing through two counting tables, and any mismatch in their totals causing immediate recounts of the batches that didn't match.

          The optical scanners could be used to get fast unofficial totals, and then the hand count the next day could produce the official totals.  

          A second set of poll workers would conduct the counts, so they could show up for work fresh & sharp, while the day shift of poll workers wrapped up and went home.  This also has the benefit of getting more people involved in the actual process.  

          This election was the turning point toward a future with a future.

          by G2geek on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:37:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed - this makes sense (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cotterperson, Lujane

            It's a lot cheaper to do this sort of monitoring than it was even 5 years ago, though I can imagine that non-tech savvy officials probably would be very leery of such a public monitoring system.  (And given how hard it is for them to keep their basic websites up on election day, I can't imagine they'd do this well - they'd need help from sites with infrastructure to replicate the feeds.)

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 05:00:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  True the Vote (spit) would be ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane

            ... on the phone every few minutes --

            Complaining about blue and minority districts. Sending cops everywhere, and suing when municipalities ran out of cops.

            Definitely, but respectfully, disagree.

            Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

            by MT Spaces on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:35:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And getting (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane, cotterperson, MT Spaces

              their pants sued off after the election for phoning in fraudulent complaints.

              I'm all for them being sued into oblivion.

              I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

              by trumpeter on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:55:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Their backers have SO much money ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... and prosecutions for anti-vote shenanigans have been spotty historically.

                I don't think cameras are any answer, is my contention.

                Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

                by MT Spaces on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:17:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  You can't do the counting (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wasatch, mmacdDE, Lujane, Brian B

        In small batches in separate rooms. Unless, that is, you want the major parties to have to assign observers to each and every room where the small batches are counted.

        Just because you would have hand-counting doesn't mean that malfeasance can't occur. Ballots can be defaced. Blank races could be filled in.  Two choices could be filled in for a particular race. And so on.

        It is why the states have laws that require the ballots to only be handled in the counting area and can never be out of sight of the observers nor can any of the counters leave the counting area.

    •  Paper/Scanners: this is how we voted in NY... (10+ / 0-)

      ...at least in Rockland County and in Kings County.

      Easy peasey.

      Electronic voting should be ditched everywhere.  Who needs a "secret algorithm" to add up ballots?

      But the whole voting process needs to be made as unimpeachable as possible.   That means stop leaving it up to the individual states/precincts and set some basic national standards.

      Some thoughts:

      1) Election day is a national
      holiday.
      2) Trained and certified poll workers.  From a uniform (national) certification program.  Recruit more young people to do this (though props to the seniors who volunteer every year.)
      3) Mandated minimum number of early voting days and extended hours across the board.  Decide this on the federal level.  (Past the minimum, leave it up to the locals.)
      4) Let's do some math - based on previous election turnout, decide the number of polling places and number of booths/machines.  % of polling places/booths/ballets per head.
      5) Uniform voting hours, nationally mandated.
      6) Federal standards for tabulating and reporting votes.

      And...
      7) Make any attempt to interfere with, thwart, manipulate, intimidate, misdirect or otherwise mess with any American's voting rights is a felony offense.

      "When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?' Don Marquis

      by hopesprings on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:37:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice list (6+ / 0-)

        I would add one: same-day voter registration.

        You don't have to worry about getting your registration in weeks or months ahead of time. Create a flexible set of parameters for people to verify their identity and residency and they can just show up and vote. At the polling place you run parallel check-in lines: people who are already registered can breeze through so that people registering same-day don't bog down the process.

        We have this system in Minnesota and it's a big reason we consistently have turnout percentages above 75% in Presidential election years.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:16:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  WA has bubbles and mail-in voting. n/t (4+ / 0-)
  •  Oregon's mail voting uses optical scan ballots (13+ / 0-)

    I do temp election work at Multnomah County (Portland) Elections. Oregon is a longtime clean government state, with exceptions of course. In next door Clackamas County a huge scandal was created this week by a temp elections worker tampering with downballot races by filling in unvoted races with R votes. This huge scandal involves 6 ballots so far with others still being investigated (I've heard 100). In my county I can't imagine how anyone could get access to ballots without being watched and/or working as part of a team of 2 workers of different parties. My job is to work in one of these teams determining voter intent on ballots rejected by the counting machines due to damage, stray marks, erasures, overvotes (voting or appearing to vote for more than one person in a race) and similar issues.

    •  the way to figure out those ballots... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Maned Pensator

      .... will be with forensic analysis of the ink and the physical impressions on the paper.  Time consuming possibly, but it should return a fairly conclusive result, since it's highly unlikely that the pen used by the suspect will be an exact match for that used by the actual voters.  

      This election was the turning point toward a future with a future.

      by G2geek on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:40:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wisconsin, at least west-coast (Mississippi River) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, HudsonValleyMark, G2geek, Wee Mama

    ...use optical scanners since 1980 or so and don't recall any problems...I suppose in larger cities that don't allow proper ratio of machines to voting population and/or voting locations...there could be unnecessary delays. And as for "rigging" them to create voter fraud...need to seek out an expert which I am not.

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:34:08 PM PST

  •  One other need?....... a rule about having (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus, Wee Mama, askew

    at least one piece of working equipment per every so many voters registered in that precinct.

    If one machine can handle 100 voters per hour and you must process 1,000 per hour  in order to serve all your registered voters ---- then that precinct must have 10 machines in place.      I think they call it arithmetic?

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 08:00:36 PM PST

    •  that isn't necessary if Bowen's system... (0+ / 0-)

      ... or anything like it, is adopted.

      All that's needed is an ample supply of paper ballots and a scanner somewhere in the system.  

      This election was the turning point toward a future with a future.

      by G2geek on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:22:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You may need more than one scanner (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        In our precinct in Cuyahoga County we only have around 800 voters. But other precincts can have twice that number.

        We had six pages (3 sheets, 19 inches long 3 columns) per ballot that does take some time as you have to wait for the machine to confirm that it has successfully scanned each page and also to confirm that the expected number of pages have been scanned and you would just have lines getting to the scanner. That creates a problem because you can't have people standing around where a line to the scanner would allow them to see other people's ballots as they are scanning them or while they are marking them.

        Other jurisdictions in the country could have even more pages to their ballots. I know in Brecksville in 2010 one of the wards there had a ballot that had to be 15 pages at least because an entire sub-division was being re-zoned and that requires that each individual property in that subdivision is an individual ballot issue that is voted on.

        I have yet to have a ballot that is less than 6 pages in any November election.

        One other thing, you also just can't have piles of people voting at the same time because the observers have to be able to watch for anything going on with that. Someone could be coercing someone, electioneering, showing a ballot to someone, etc.

        •  6 pages? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama

          Do you have a lot of ballot initiatives?

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:23:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Must have. In Iowa I've never had a multipage (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            milkbone

            ballot in over three decades of voting.



            Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

            by Wee Mama on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:03:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  We have a number of ballot issues (0+ / 0-)

            In Ohio we vote on all taxes by referendum. That means any money to schools, hospitals, libraries, ports, arts, you name it we vote on it.

            If a zoning change is occurring on a property in your ward you vote on each individual property that is changing. As I said in my comment above in 2010 in a city in Cuyahoga County that resulted in one ward there to have 46 separate issues to vote on alone.

            We vote on alcohol sales in convenience stores. Sunday sales of alcohol by any establishment.

            We have votes on changes to City Charters, County government, and state issues.

            Then there are the judges. In Cuyahoga County we have well over 50 judges of the Common Pleas court and that doesn't even get into judges to the Supreme Court, etc.

            It is not uncommon to have a ballot initiative that is two pages long - these are 19 inch ballots 3 columns wide - on the ballot in any given year.

            Because of this the length of a ballot varies from precinct to precinct let alone from county to county.

        •  no, the scanner is part of the vote tabulation (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          trumpeter

          in the voting booth, you just mark up the ballot and then the poll worker drops it in a box. at least that is how it works in yolo county, CA.

          •  In our state - Ohio (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wu ming

            Unless you ask for assistance - which would require two elections officials to assist you - you are only allowed to handle your own ballot thus you scan it yourself.

            We also have two stubs on the ballot.  Stub A and Stub B. When handed the ballot to vote the person that signed you in retains Stub A.  After you scan the ballot you put Stub B into a separate container - you do this yourself as well.

            When the precinct closes there has to be a stub A and stub B for each ballot cast. All ballots issued have to be accounted for to prevent ballot stuffing.

            I am surprised that California would allow anyone but the person who voted to handle the ballot like that.

            •  the poll workers who count the ballots (0+ / 0-)

              are the same ones who scan them. the boxes are secure and locked, have bar codes, and are checked along with their seals every step of the way.

              quite frankly, there isn't nearly as much shady business with the integrity of the vote in CA as there has been in OH in the past several elections. i suspect part of it is because we're not considered an important swing state, but i wouldn't look to either florida or ohio for best practices, voting wise, to be completely frank.

              •  Ohio's problems (0+ / 0-)

                Are in voter suppression. Not the voting systems used. All of the systems used in Ohio not only have to be state certified but they also have to be federally certified. This is the same as it is in California. We also have no voting system where there is no paper ballot nor a Voter Verified Paper Ballot. This too is the same as in California.

                And while the voting systems have to be state and federally certified in Ohio by law it is actually up to each individual county in the state to choose which certified system to use. Actually it is up to the voters in each county as to what system they will use as we vote on it by referendum. While Ohio law does provide for the county BOE to choose a system or the county commissioners or county councils to choose a system (based on the same county BOE recommendation) both of those entities know that a ballot petition would come it to force it to a referendum anyway so it goes to the voters in most, if not all, of the counties.

                There is so much misinformation regarding Ohio voting out there that more time and effort is focused on that than on the very real problems of voter suppression that goes on.

  •  Well Florida is still not "done" as per GOP plans (5+ / 0-)

    that just got derailed cause President Obama won enough elsewhere,it was going to be 2000 there all over again or 2004 Ohio or a combination of Both.

  •  great diary, but I just want to say: Rush Holt (4+ / 0-)
    Congress hasn't spent the time to research it.
    Very true. But Holt knows the issue well, and he has been working for years to enact basically those points as federal law. Alas, so far the progress generally has been at the state level.

    California has done some really cool things with post-election audits (at least experimentally), but I am too sleepy to wonk out on them. ;)

    Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
    Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

    by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 08:23:48 PM PST

  •  visually impaired (0+ / 0-)

    I can't think of a good reason why all of the machines shouldn't be required to handle printing and scanning ballots at both normal and larger sizes.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:31:58 PM PST

  •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 01:36:02 AM PST

  •  The Athenians voted by a show of hands, (0+ / 0-)

    or in the case of ostracism, by putting a broken piece of pottery with someone's name on it in a big jar. At the end of the vote the jar was broken and the names counted.

    To elect most of their government officials they used random selection. They even invented a machine to pick names of citizens to serve in various posts.

    Why can't we just do that? Why not randomly select citizens to serve as legislators on one act and only one act, or to serve as Supreme Court Justices on one case and only one case?

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 02:03:01 AM PST

    •  Karl Rove would have written Obama's name all over (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hestal

      the inside of the big jar. When broken, its shards would have been counted along with the others!

      Have you noticed?
      Politicians who promise LESS government
      only deliver BAD government.

      by jjohnjj on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 09:24:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You have to keep one thing in mind (4+ / 0-)

    Optical scanners work in pretty much the same way that the DRE machines do.

    A ballot layout is setup using the vendor's software and rectangles are defined as to the areas where the scanner can expect to find a mark. It also has to know in what races you can mark more than one choice - one of our was "pick not more than 7". The definition is loaded to the scanner just as the definitions of the ballot are loaded to a DRE.

    Therefore, the problems reported with DREs where people press one candidate but the one above or below is selected instead - due to a calibration issue - can also occur with the scanner due to an improper layout of the rectangles for the scanner to look at.

    Also, if someone wanted to do that intentionally by modifying the software on the scanner, the process isn't any different than someone messing with the DRE software.

    In that regard there is no difference, in principle, between using paper and optical scan and using a DRE with a Voter Verified Paper Ballot printer.

    However, the big difference between optical scan and using the DRE as a voter is that you can see if there is a calibration issue on the touch screen while you have no way to see a calibration issue with the scanner.

    So just keep in mind that changing from a DRE to an optical scanner isn't necessarily a panacea. It doesn't avoid certain vendors because most, if not all of the vendors, make both DRE and Optical Scan systems.

    I prefer a system where everything is hand counted even if that takes days or weeks to do. But that comes with a different set of problems particularly having enough counters to speed it up or having counters that don't have work obligations that would preclude them having days to do a count as well as observers for chain of custody for all ballots, watching for ballot stuffing, and all that good stuff.

    •  I see the argument for hand counting (5+ / 0-)

      Thought Debra Bowen addresses this in her talk.

      There are a few differences between DREs and optical scan.  The first and most important is that the paper ballot records the voter's intent.  So even if the scanner is misaligned, the ballot still holds the actual information.  With a touchscreen there's no way of recording the voter's intent if there's a calibration error.

      As to trusting the software: my preference would be for every polling place to use open source software stacks written by security experts, and verified in a pre-defined way, and then to run all ballots through two optical scanners that are made by two different vendors.  Since the scanners aren't the bottleneck typically in this system, it shouldn't be an issue.  But in any case, that's a level of redundancy most probably wouldn't need to trust this system.

      Also, Bowen's case is that the optical scan results are unofficial until there's still a mandatory random sample hand recount to check their results.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:55:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I apologize for the length of this comment (0+ / 0-)

        But I want to touch on as many points in as much detail as possible. Particularly concerning the state of Ohio (where I reside) where there is a complete misconception that voting in Ohio is like that of 1800s frontier towns.

        The touchscreen systems in Ohio and most states that use them have a Voter Verified Printed Ballot that is printed for the voter on paper tape  to review before casting their ballot - this is in addition to the review they might have on screen.  This is state law in most, if not all of those states, including Ohio.

        In Ohio the law is:

        3506.10 Requirements for approval or certification of voting machines.

        No voting machine shall be approved by the board of voting machine examiners or certified by the secretary of state, or be purchased, rented, or otherwise acquired, or used, except when specifically allowed for experimental use, as provided in section 3506.04 of the Revised Code, unless it fulfills the following requirements:

        (A) It shall permit and require voting in absolute secrecy, and shall be so constructed that no person can see or know for whom any other elector has voted or is voting, except an elector who is assisting a voter as prescribed by section 3505.24 of the Revised Code.

        (B) It shall permit each elector to vote at any election for all persons and offices for whom and for which the elector is lawfully entitled to vote, whether or not the name of any such person appears on a ballot label as a candidate; to vote for as many persons for an office as the elector is entitled to vote for; and to vote for or against any question upon which the elector is entitled to vote.
        (C) It shall preclude each elector from voting for any candidate or upon any question for whom or upon which the elector is not entitled to vote, from voting for more persons for any office than the elector is entitled to vote for, and from voting for any candidates for the same office or upon any question more than once.

        (D) It shall permit each voter to deposit, write in, or affix, upon devices provided for that purpose, ballots containing the names of persons for whom the voter desires to vote, whose names do not appear upon the voting machine. Those devices shall be susceptible of identification as to party affiliations when used at a primary election.

        (E) It shall permit each elector to change the elector’s vote for any candidate or upon any question appearing upon the ballot labels, up to the time the elector starts to register the elector’s vote.

        (F) It shall permit each elector, at all presidential elections, by one device to vote for candidates of one party for president, vice-president, and presidential electors.

        (G) It shall be capable of adjustment by election officers so as to permit each elector, at a primary election, to vote only for the candidates of the party with which the elector has declared the elector’s affiliation and shall preclude the elector from voting for any candidate seeking nomination by any other political party; and to vote for the candidates for nonpartisan nomination or election.

        (H) It shall have separate voting devices for candidates and questions, which shall be arranged in separate rows or columns. It shall be so arranged that one or more adjacent rows or columns may be assigned to the candidates of each political party at primary elections.

        (I) It shall have a counter, or other device, the register of which is visible from the outside of the machine, and which will show at any time during the voting the total number of electors who have voted; and also a protective counter, or other device, the register of which cannot be reset, which will record the cumulative total number of movements of the internal counters.

        (J) It shall be provided with locks and seals by the use of which, immediately after the polls are closed or the operation of the machine for an election is completed, no further changes to the internal counters can be allowed.

        (K) It shall have the capacity to contain the names of candidates constituting the tickets of at least five political parties, and independent groups and such number of questions not exceeding fifteen as the secretary of state shall specify.

        (L) It shall be durably constructed of material of good quality in a neat and workerlike manner, and in form that shall make it safely transportable.

        (M) It shall be so constructed that a voter may readily learn the method of operating it, may expeditiously cast a vote for all candidates of the voter’s choice, and when operated properly shall register and record correctly and accurately every vote cast.

        (N) It shall be provided with a screen, hood, or curtain, which will conceal the voter while voting. During the voting, it shall preclude every person from seeing or knowing the number of votes registered for any candidate or question and from tampering with any of the internal counters.

        (O) It shall not provide to a voter any type of receipt or voter confirmation that the voter legally may retain after leaving the polling place.

        (P) On and after the first federal election that occurs after January 1, 2006, unless required sooner by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, if the voting machine is a direct recording electronic voting machine, it shall include a voter verified paper audit trail.

        The Voter Verified Paper is used in the event of a recount.
        3506.18 Electronic voting machine - verified paper audit trail as official ballot in recount.

        (A) For any recount of an election in which ballots are cast using a direct recording electronic voting machine with a voter verified paper audit trail, the voter verified paper audit trail shall serve as the official ballot to be recounted.

        (B) Voter verified paper audit trails shall be preserved in the same manner and for the same time period as paper ballots are preserved under section 3505.31 of the Revised Code.
        (C) A voter verified paper audit trail shall be treated as are other ballots for purposes of section 149.43 of the Revised Code and shall be retained in accordance with the county records retention schedule established under section 149.38 of the Revised Code after the relevant time period prescribed for its preservation in section 3505.31 of the Revised Code, or as ordered by the secretary of state or a court of competent jurisdiction.

        (D) If a voter verified paper audit trail is made available to the public, any information on that voter verified paper audit trail that identifies the particular direct recording electronic voting machine that produced it shall be redacted.

        Effective Date: 05-07-2004; 05-02-2006

        If you review the information at Verified Voting you can see which states have such VVPB setups. On the map they have those are the states and/or counties within states that have bright green as opposed to darker green coloring.

        Ohio law, for example, requires federal certification of all of the voting systems used in the state - with one exception.

        From Ohio Revised Code 3506.05 Certification of voting and tabulating equipment:

        (4)(a) Except as otherwise provided in division (H)(4)(c) of this section, any voting machine, marking device, or automatic tabulating equipment initially certified or acquired on or after December 1, 2008, shall have the most recent federal certification number issued by the election assistance commission.

        (b) Any voting machine, marking device, or automatic tabulating equipment certified for use in this state on September 12, 2008, shall meet, as a condition of continued certification and use, the voting system standards adopted by the federal election commission in 2002.
        (c) A county that acquires additional voting machines, marking devices, or automatic tabulating equipment on or after December 1, 2008, shall not be considered to have acquired those machines, devices, or equipment on or after December 1, 2008, for the purpose of division (H)(4)(a) of this section if all of the following apply:

        (i) The voting machines, marking devices, or automatic tabulating equipment acquired are the same as the machines, devices, or equipment currently used in that county.

        (ii) The acquisition of the voting machines, marking devices, or automatic tabulating equipment does not replace or change the primary voting system used in that county.

        (iii) The acquisition of the voting machines, marking devices, or automatic tabulating equipment is for the purpose of replacing inoperable machines, devices, or equipment or for the purpose providing additional machines, devices, or equipment required to meet the allocation requirements established pursuant to division (I) of section 3501.11 of the Revised Code.

        The US Election Assistance Commission is mandated under HAVA to certify election equipment used in states where state laws require federal certification.

        If you go to that site you can find all of the various systems that have been certified or decertified as the case may be for use including the testing performed by the certification labs which generally are 120 or more page long. Such certifications contain a review of the source code and that the code matches the function of the machine. Anomalies in this part of the certification even include comments in the source code that don't meet the relevant standard.

        So at the EAC site you can find the final test certifications for (pdf):

        Premier Assure 1.2 which is used in some counties in Ohio.

        ES&S Unity 3.2.1.0 that is used in some counties in Ohio.

        ES&S Unity 3.4.0.0 which is used in some counties in Ohio.

        At the US EAC site you can find the standards and guidelines in use and links to the relevant NIST standards and the links showing the accredited Voting System Test Laboratories and those recommended by the NIST.

    •  op-scan is usu better for voter verification (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, barath, MindRayge

      I'm not one of those VVPAT fatalists. But we know from research that large fractions of voters don't spontaneously check VVPATs, and don't necessarily notice deliberately induced errors. (It should be hard to steal an election that way as long as some voters check.) So, I don't think your point about seeing calibration errors is the one big difference -- or even necessarily the most important difference -- as a voter.

      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:55:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point was (0+ / 0-)

        If there is a calibration issue with the touchscreen system a voter has a chance to actually see it.

        With the Optical Scanner there is absolutely no way for a voter to see a calibration issue.

        I happen to think that is an important distinction.

        But I am coming from an equipment point of view and the issues that keep coming up every time people get worried about Ohio every election. My main contention is that people get all worked up about the DRE machines without realizing that the way Optical Scan systems are set up to process the ballots is not all that different in any meaningful way from how the DRE ballots are set up for processing.  The issue of the "rogue programmer" or deliberate software changes to steal elections - the basis of many a diary around here especially concerning Ohio - doesn't go away with Optical Scan systems.

        In either form the VVPAT or paper ballot that was scanned is available for audit or recount purposes. Since those are the only situations where ballots may be counted by hand you end up with the case where VVPAT or paper ballot for optical scan is at best a case of user pacification and a voter perception issue rather than a bona fide argument of which may be better to use.

        •  I'm not sure we are communicating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MindRayge

          I said:

          So, I don't think your point about seeing calibration errors is the one big difference -- or even necessarily the most important difference -- as a voter.
          I didn't say it wasn't important.
          My main contention is that people get all worked up about the DRE machines without realizing that the way Optical Scan systems are set up to process the ballots is not all that different in any meaningful way from how the DRE ballots are set up for processing.
          I'm sure some people don't understand that. I've been more struck by how many people don't realize that DREs can have VVPATs that are actually usable, or -- even weirder to me -- how many people argue that paper ballots are basically useless if you're using optical scanners. I do think most people who weigh in here understand that DREs and optical scanners are both computers, and both can go wrong, even if they don't know the details.
          Since those are the only situations where ballots may be counted by hand you end up with the case where VVPAT or paper ballot for optical scan is at best a case of user pacification and a voter perception issue rather than a bona fide argument of which may be better to use.
          Well, no. I think it's absolutely a bona fide argument that people who hand-mark their ballots generally have looked at the ballots -- whereas people who vote on DREs with VVPATs may or may not have looked at the VVPATs. That and other technical criticisms of VVPATs are not matters of "user pacification."

          However, I think any voter-verifiable paper record >> no paper record. The difference between VVPATs -- if they meet some minimal quality standard -- and full-size paper ballots is comparatively smaller.

          Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 01:30:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, we are not communicating (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HudsonValleyMark

            My main comment was to the diary and was addressing the "simple answer".

            So my comment was geared to the notion that somehow Optical Scan was better due to the reasoning postulated by the diarist, particularly items 1 and 2. I didn't address 3.

            From there you and I are down the path where you are discussing whether or not one system offers the prospect of the voter actually looked at the ballot with more likelihood than the other. I agree with what you say. This is the part where we were talking past each other.

            However, no matter how many times you looked at your paper ballot, if it goes into an optical scanner that isn't calibrated correctly all of that is for naught. All you got out of the experience was the pacification that you had a ballot in your hand and marked the way you wanted - unaware that those carefully marked and looked at ballot selections won't be counted as you intended.

            This is in no way different than someone that would feel comfortable using a DRE, was confident of their choices, reviewed them, confirmed the VVPAT and cast their ballot. They too would have been pacified by the experience of the VVPAT.

            So it is in the context of a miscalibrated or compromised machine, whether the scanner or DRE, that renders the VVPAT or ballot as merely a user pacifier because it either case one or more of your selections will not be counted as you intended. By the same token this is also true in a system, scanner or DRE, where the voter knows with certainty that the selections will be counted as intended.

            While it (ballot or paper tape) becomes a record of the vote in most states it is never examined except if an audit or recount is mandated by law or by a court with jurisdiction. If neither of those occurs the paper ballot or the portion of the paper tape containing your ballot viewed via VVPAT served no other purpose than as a user pacifier.

            In the context of whether paper ballot or a VVPAT is better in terms of a voter actually looking at and verifying their selections I agree with you. There is a difference, absolutely.  

            One thing I do want to make clear is that I am not defending VVPAT nor expressing any argument that it is better than use of optical scan paper ballots. If given a choice between the two I would always choose optical scan with paper ballots.

            •  OK -- we may disagree on part of this (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MindRayge
              While it (ballot or paper tape) becomes a record of the vote in most states it is never examined except if an audit or recount is mandated by law or by a court with jurisdiction. If neither of those occurs the paper ballot or the portion of the paper tape containing your ballot viewed via VVPAT served no other purpose than as a user pacifier.
              I don't agree with that statement in principle. A well-designed audit provision protects everyone, not just the people whose ballots happen to be examined. Good recount provisions benefit everyone, even when they aren't used.

              So I try to draw a bright line about when paper is or isn't a placebo.

              Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
              Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

              by HudsonValleyMark on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:02:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I'd add just a very few things (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, wu ming, teachme2night, jjohnjj

    Standardized ballot format nationwide
    Nationwide 14-day early vpting 9-5
    Election-day is a public holiday

    Barack Obama. Good man in a storm.

    by mwm341 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:20:53 AM PST

    •  These all sound good (0+ / 0-)

      They would, if I understand require changing some amount of the law on who's responsible for elections (today it's counties and states).

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 04:51:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Feds have no jurisdiction over local elections (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LNK

        but they can require specific standards for federal elections.

        I used to think a public holiday made sense. I no longer do and it's because even during a public holiday, there are plenty of retail workers, restaurants, etc that stay open. I want all of those people to be able to vote too.

        I like the idea of early voting over at least the 7 days of the week (Sunday - Saturday). Most people have at least one day off over the course of a week.

    •  Also, national voter registration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      So, we can get beyond all that other nonsense.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:21:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  14-day, 9-5 as a minimum. If you made it a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LNK

      standard we would lose some of our early voting in Iowa. And there should be weekend early voting for people who can't get away from work to vote.



      Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

      by Wee Mama on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:08:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  this is the practical how, what is the political (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Wee Mama

    how? When PBO said, "We've got to do something about this," was he serious, and if so, what would the legislative instrument be, or would it just be executive order?

    Barack Obama for President

    by looty on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:32:32 AM PST

    •  Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced a series of bills (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge, Wee Mama, looty

      This couldn't be done by executive order, but there is ample precedent for federal law governing federal elections.

      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:46:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not just federal elections (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark, Wee Mama, looty

        The feds can mandate standards even for state elections, under the Guaranty clause of the constitution, as long as they don't specify exactly how to meet those standards.

        Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

        by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:55:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes, I was trying to underclaim :) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          looty

          IANAL, and even if I were, I might have a hard time telling where those lines would be drawn. Some people seem to have thought that even Holt's legislation was an egregious federal power grab.

          I've seen people here talk about Republican opposition to election verification. One big problem I have with that is that, while support for Holt's bill has been disproportionately Democratic, the vociferous opposition often has come from the left. Sometimes even from the Delta Quadrant, if you ask me. Which you didn't. Oops. :)

          Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:18:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry, but not correct. (3+ / 0-)

    States do already have optical scan ballots and they are just as flawed and prone to failure and just as easy to hack as touch machines.   Just read the data and reports.  Hell, even an HBO documentary from like 10 years ago showed how quick and easy it is to mess with an optical scan machine.

    Sorry, but if people want to ensure accurate elections, the FIRST thing that needs to be done is increase the number of voting locations.  Seriously, waiting for countless hours to vote is ridiculous.  You shouldn't have to wait more than 30 minutes considering the turnout #s you typically see.  

    Next, paper ballots, marked by pen/marker (as you've said) that are hand counted by human beings with full observation...like they do in practically every other country on earth.  Remove machines entirely.  They cost way too much and don't work for crap.  And the fact that the software is proprietary means that we will always be at the whim of corporations who are accountable ONLY to shareholders and not the voting public.  That isn't democracy so why should our democracy be held captive by it?

    It really is that simple. Just look at what other countries do and have been doing for ever and copy it.  

    •  ^ between wishful and reckless (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barath, Wee Mama, reklemrov

      I've been hearing for years about how well hand-counted paper ballots work in New Hampshire -- and I won't say that they don't work. But the fact is that jurisdictions have continued to move away from HCPB.

      Yes, optical scanners can be hacked -- or can, and do, err in other ways -- and that's why post-election audits are important. But judging from the recounts we have seen, they usually perform well -- and, when they don't, they can be corrected. If we refuse to use any system that can be subverted, we're on a slippery slope to nowhere.

      Telling people that they shouldn't move from DREs to optical scan systems with robust post-election audits, because they really ought to be doing 100% hand counts instead, is sort of like telling people that they shouldn't vote for Obama because Jill Stein is so much better. I don't object to HCPB advocacy, but when it stands as a barrier to protecting people's votes, I certainly oppose that.

      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:03:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hand-Count the Vote, Everyone, Everywhere! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Simplify

    I support hand-counting only because I've seen how well it works. It took 20 people, working in ten teams of two, 5 hours to count 2250 ballots with 14 races and 3 questions. Then one more hour of tracking down every last under-vote, write-in, etc. to be absolutely sure that all are recorded, and the tally as a whole is completely justified. I would do it for free as part of my civic duty, although it turns out we get paid for the time spent. So we spent about $800-$1000 on that. How much did cities spend on their software, programmers, and machines? Were they as dead-on accurate as we were? imho, I think not.

    •  Doesn't scale up well, does it? (0+ / 0-)

      If 20 people can scan 2250 ballots in a reasonable amount of time, how many people do you need to scan the 120 million+ ballots that were cast on Tuesday? Just over a million, by my count.

      Intended to be a factual statement.

      by ipsos on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 02:18:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's not just the voting it's registrations; (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madcitysailor, Simplify

    voter ID's; voter purges; intentional disinformation on where, when and how to vote; voter challenges.

    There are campaign issues as well.

    Purging predominantly minority voters and requiring them to present IDs to vote in the face of VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT VOTER FRAUD is RACISM! I hereby declare all consenting Republicans RACISTS until they stand up and object to these practices!

    by Words In Action on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:00:25 AM PST

  •  "Risk-limiting audit" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HudsonValleyMark

    That is the jargon for an audit that doesn't focus on recounting some arbitrary, fixed number of ballots, but on doing whatever it takes to get a statistically high confidence that the result is correct. You end up auditing more in tight elections and less in blowouts.

    So I agree with the spirit of the diary, but talking about a "mandatory 1% recount" as if that is all that's needed is a dangerous mistake.

    Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

    by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:01:04 AM PST

    •  Diarist addresses this. 1% is a starting point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark
      followed by increasing fractions for close races.
      In addition to increasing the degree of recounts in tight races, I think that if any machine were to be found in disagreement with the recount, it seems reasonable that the county where that machine was located would then be audited to a greater degree to determine whether the discrepancy was limited to that machine or was indicative of a wider problem.

      "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

      by netop on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:27:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But using the correct jargon is helpful (0+ / 0-)

        "1% followed by increasing fractions" may or may not be good enough (or indeed overkill). "Risk-limiting" is clear and precise, and doesn't sound too scary or nerdy.

        Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

        by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:51:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Approval voting (0+ / 0-)

    I realize that this diary is about the physical machines, not the abstract "voting system" (as in plurality voting). But repairing the abstract system is just as important. Plurality voting routinely disenfranchises third-party supporters, and, by doing so, badly distorts the incentives for candidates and potential candidates. Approval voting could easily fix that — and it would actually make building voting machines easier, and help make voting more fair between in-person and by-mail (because there's no need to throw away "overvotes").

    Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

    by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:05:56 AM PST

    •  Perfect abstract voting is provably impossible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homunq

      By Arrow's impossibility theorem, no ranked voting system can ever be designed to satisfy all requirements.  To crib from the wikipedia article:

      In short, the theorem states that no rank-order voting system can be designed that satisfies these three "fairness" criteria:

      1. If every voter prefers alternative X over alternative Y, then the group prefers X over Y.
      2. If every voter's preference between X and Y remains unchanged, then the group's preference between X and Y will also remain unchanged (even if voters' preferences between other pairs like X and Z, Y and Z, or Z and W change).
      3. There is no "dictator": no single voter possesses the power to always determine the group's preference.

      Approval voting doesn't fall under Arrow's, but falls under another impossibility theorem.

      Stepping back, though, I think approval voting is a reasonable way to go, and it's simpler than the instant-runoff voting systems that many cities are moving to for mayoral elections.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:37:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but do you know why Gibbard's theorem... (0+ / 0-)

        ...is better than Satterthwaite's? Or did you think they were the same thing?

        Seriously. I'm as big an elections-math nerd as anyone (I'm currently applying for a PhD in it), but as a practical matter, it is possible to solve the problems with our election system. Approval voting doesn't get us there 100%, but it is a HUGE step in the right direction, and it's simple. So confusing people with talk of Arrow's Theorem is not I think the best tactic.

        (I'm being rhetorical, but I actually do have an answer for the question above.)

        Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

        by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:48:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I won't argue. (0+ / 0-)

          Feel free to explain, because it's been many years since I read up about those.

          contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:58:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK here goes (0+ / 0-)

            For the non-nerds: "the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem" shows that there is no election system without some possibility for voting strategy in some cases.

            Gibbard's proof is better, because it works from first principles to show that in any "voting game" with three or more candidates, there is no single dominant strategy that gets best achievable results no matter what everyone else does. It is clearly inspired by Arrow's theorem, but it doesn't use it explicitly.

            Satterthwaite explicitly uses Arrow's theorem in his proof, so his proof only applies to ordinal ("comparative") voting systems like plurality or IRV, and not to cardinal ("evaluative") voting systems like approval or MJ.

            Most people talk as if they're the same theorem, so you won't get that by "reading up" unless you mean reading the original papers. (I find Gibbard's to be better-written; it's nice to read those old math papers which don't use notation as a crutch for poor writing.)

            More recent work has shown that there is still a semi-loophole in Gibbard's theorem. Any voting system must have strategy, but (as long as you stick to simple game theory and don't bring in crazy partial-information models) for some of them, including Approval and (by my unpublished proof) Majority Judgment, it is possible to have no dishonest strategy. So if you prefer A over B over C, you might have to think strategically about approving A and B or just A, but you can entirely discount voting for B but not A.

            Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

            by homunq on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:29:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  The paper ballots are just fine. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    Mr pixxer and I sat on the floor of the gym in Rosa Parks elementary school, after running the gauntlet of children bouncing balls off the exterior wall of the school, and filled out our eight-page ballots, each I think 11"x17". I had to wait a minute or two for the scanner to be free, and that was with no line to get into the building, so I think an increase in the scanner budget would definitely be required. The person feeding the scanner can easily see what you have voted for, too, which could be an issue in some areas of the country, unless voters feed the scanner themselves. Since it's easy to do, that would be a good option IMO.

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:08:40 AM PST

  •  Optical Scanners Is What My Fl County (Walton) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    uses.  I would not want to vote using anything else.  If all states used optical scanners (paper ballots) and opened up voting places in every neighborhood there would no longer be long lines.  Also, there should be at least 2 weeks of early voting counting weekends.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:12:29 AM PST

  •  Been there and did that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, Wee Mama

    I concur - voting in California has become easy and a pleasure.  The guy at the door verified that I was in the correct polling place, went in and gave my name, signed the signature doc.  Was given my ballot in a privacy folder, filled it out in the booth, put it into the scanner and I was done.  

    I was in and done in less than 10 minutes.  Don't see why this can't be done across the country.  One can only hope.

  •  My fave thing about optical scanners (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, Box of Rain, Wee Mama

    is that the only thing between me and my ballot is a felt tip pen.  In the event of a hand count verification or audit, a ballot that I touched will be reviewed, not a printed receipt and not any other fallible recording technology between me and my vote.

    No one can hack a felt tip marker.  Felt tip markers don't get buggy.  The success of using a felt tip marker is easily verifiable by the voter before submission of ballot (is there a black line where I want a black line?) and permanent once submitted.

    Bonus of optical scanners:
    People can see a replica of the ballot before the election that will look just like the one they will use on voting day, which makes it easier to review the exact wording of the ballot questions and reduces the amount of time needed on navigating the ballot come election day.

    "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

    by netop on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:16:00 AM PST

  •  forgot one point: put debra in charge of it! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, Wee Mama

    god, i wish the president would take back the topic of theday from the freaking fiscal cliff crap, and get on voting rights ASAP.  people are pissed and there's energy to do it right now.
    but the repukes want us to forgetaboutit.

    Community Organizer trumps Private Equity Manager

    by stagemom on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:18:13 AM PST

  •  I believe there is more to it than that. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    I live in a blue State (NJ) and a Republican district. My wife and I went to casst our votes on Tuesday. There was no line. We had to show no ID. It took us about 10 minutes. Then I was saddened to see long lines and I heard horror stories from the swing States, whereas people had to wait in line for hours! How rediculous.I think this is by design. It is a hideous ploy for voter supression.What we really need is a national voting system that enables all of the people to vote with no hassles. States rights my ass!

  •  You never hear anything about voting issues in CA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    Even though it's a huge state with many poor and minority and immigrant voters, and it's a state with a huge budget problem that presumably has hit the SoS's office too.  There just aren't enough Republicans to mess up the state's obligation to encourage voting.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:20:04 AM PST

  •  Two things-- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    totallynext, delphine, Box of Rain

    Voting WEEK, not voting day.  Let's have seven consecutive days to vote.

    Open software on the machines that count the ballots.  Hire a university or other trusted source to produce machines with verifiable software.

  •  PAPER BALLOT OF RECORD! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    netop, Wee Mama, Black Maned Pensator

    Because of our vote-by-mail system a "paper ballot of record" is required by our state constitution.
    This should be the law of the land in the US Constitution along with the the citizens right to vote.
    Please! Please! stop using the word "receipt" when income to voting and ballots. A "PAPER BALLOT OF RECORD" is the only language that should be repeated.  

    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

    by phastphil40 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:21:19 AM PST

    •  Oops - I live in Oregon with vote by mail (0+ / 0-)

      "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

      by phastphil40 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:23:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. I guess that's why I feel that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      the only paper ballots of record that should be permissible anywhere should be made by the voter.
      Hand-count paper ballot and optical scanners allow for that.

      "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars" --Casey Kasem

      by netop on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:35:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Once scanned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    a bar code should be stamped on the ballot and a receipt to the voter.  That's my $.02.

    Paper ballot for me in NM, which I appreciate.

    being mindful and keepin' it real

    by Raggedy Ann on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:21:44 AM PST

  •  While at it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    totallynext, Amber6541

    Great idea!

    And while the forms are scanned every ballot should be saved to a hard drive as a relatively low resolution image so that, in a pinch, the entire vote sequence could be recreated if necessary.

    The scanner we use at work is capable of scanning and saving documents almost as fast as a continuouse line can feed it.

  •  Observation from Ohio (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, Amber6541, Wee Mama, askew, owlbear1

    It's not all simply the machines/process.  I live in a heavily Republican area of Montgomery County (Dayton) and we experienced over hour long waits (nothing like others - but this compares to a usual wait of 15 minutes in the past).  Discovered the county has been consolidating voting sites so instead of having two precincts at our location (with 4 teams of pollworkers registering people) we had four precincts at our location with only 3 teams of pollworkers.  Local budget cuts are to blame here as well.

    •  I always had multiple precints at my 20 year (0+ / 0-)

      polling station.  No lines.  Guess not that many people voted back then.  1980 to 2000.  We also were the first to go scantron.  That for as long as I can remember.

      GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

      by 88kathy on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:49:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rachel Maddow covered this last night. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alexandra Lynch, Flyswatterbanjo

    1.   The Federal government has huge jurisdiction over federal elections and need to remove the party hacks from the process.

    1) National electronic voter registration.
    2) standardized voting procedures for federal elections.

    Takin it to the Streets! time to GOTV

    by totallynext on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:33:32 AM PST

  •  GOP just uses word "fix" differently (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    What good is a voting system if the results are determined by the voters?  How does that help the GOP win?

  •  I posted this upstream as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    Here in Los Angeles we use the "dot" system - the ballot slides into a "booklet" that has holes next to every selection.  You stick a stylus into the hole next to your choice, and it fills in a circle on your ballot.  

    No fussing around with pens or improperly filled in circles.  No pen = no extraneous marks.

    It's really fantastic, easy, quick.

    Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

    by delphine on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:37:01 AM PST

  •  Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner are model SoS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    I wish we could clone these patriots and get them in all the states.

    --
    Make sure everyone's vote counts: Verified Voting

    by sacrelicious on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:42:51 AM PST

  •  Love At First Sight (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy

    I knew I loved that woman!

  •  Paper ballots in Pierce County WA (4+ / 0-)

    were mailed this year on October 19 to all registered voters. (Pierce County is 100% absentee voting, although there are a few polling stations for the very few who prefer to vote in person.) The ballots use the system described by another commenter, an incomplete arrow pointing to each selection on the ballot, and you draw a line across the blank middle to complete the arrow of your choice--using either pencil or a blue ballpoint pen. There are secure drop stations throughout the county, and you can check online to see that your ballot was received. It's a great system.

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. - Herman Melville

    by uppityboomergrrrl on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:44:24 AM PST

  •  Exactly what we had in MA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    As many booths as you want to set up, one machine to tabulate the paper ballots.

    I left my house to go vote at 7:30am, and was home before 8am. No more than 5 minutes in line.

    Given the constant state of FUBAR with voting, it's difficult not to come to the conclusion that at least some of it is happening because there are people in power that want it to be that way.

    If an asteroid was hurtling toward Earth, Republicans would refuse to consider any plan that didn't start with tax breaks for the rich.

    by Brix on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:46:30 AM PST

  •  This is not rocket science (5+ / 0-)

    If Oregon can do its entire election by mail, so can California, Florida and everywhere else.  There can be drop off sites at city halls etc for those who want to save postage.  

    This would eliminate all the lines, especially those in areas where the lines go to 6 and 7 hours, how insane.

    It would also get rid of the ridiculous voter id requirements.

    Certainly, intelligent officials such as Bowen could devise a ballot that is easy to use and each contest could have an option where we check off none, for example, in a judicial contest or in one of these umpteen referendums we have here in California.   Thus, officials wouldn't able to "finish" voting on emptier ballots.

    This would also save on having workers spread all over the county on election day.  All the counting would be done in central locations, under supervision of course.  

    Some places even do online voting, which is also an option.

    The days of going to polling places to vote are coming to an end, and that is a good thing.

    •  Anyone in California can vote by mail, and many do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barath, sukeyna

      I have been a permanent mail voter in California for many years.

      http://www.sos.ca.gov/...

      Any registered voter may vote using a vote-by-mail ballot instead of going to the polls on Election Day. California law also allows any registered voter to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter. To request a vote-by-mail ballot for one election or to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter, follow the simple process described below.
      You get your ballot in the mail three or four weeks before Election Day, and after you fill it out you can either return it by mail or drop it off at the county registrar of voters' office any time before the polls close on Election Day.  You can either request vote-by-mail for one election only, or request permanent vote-by-mail status, which I have, and that means that you automatically get a ballot in the mail for every election (federal, state, and/or local).

      In San Diego County, where I live, 57 percent of all registered voters get their ballot by mail.

      Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:28:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Anyone in Oregon can still vote in a booth... (0+ / 0-)

      by law.  Physical polling places are still available.

      I assume they're for people who want to show off a new outfit or something.

  •  I have been an election officer (6+ / 0-)

    for 20 years in California. Debra Bowen is the best Secretary of State. Ever.  Anywhere.  Period.

    I wish we could make her a permanent SoS. She got rid of the voting machines, and got training for all the clerks, judges, and inspectors for every election.  Every election she has worked to make the process better, easier, more fail safe.  Every election she has succeeded. She is a national treasure that I wish we could franchise to other states, while making her permanent here.

    "It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man." -- Thomas Paine

    by sailmaker on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:05:45 AM PST

  •  About those pens (0+ / 0-)

    I was  an inside poll watcher in Pinellas County, Florida.  We use optical scanners with ballots marked by pens.

    The day started with a huge line...about 150 people at its peak.  Stations were set up so that about 15 people people could vote at a time. Things were moving slowly but they were moving.  

    But after about an hour, one of the clerks handing out ballots called out--"We're out of pens!"

    For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost...

    Apparently, voters were absent-mindedly keeping their pens after they voted and no one thought to collect them.  The workers did become more vigilant and got through the rest of the day with about 20 pens for 15 stations.

    The next time I poll watch, I'll bring a box of black pens.  (Poll workers also were super busy calling up the elections office to troubleshoot problems.  They were writing down information on paper but ran out of scratch paper, so I gave them a memo pad that I had.)

    •  our pens were attached, but I didn't get a sticker (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawgrass727

      'I voted'  --- first time ever I didn't get a sticker.  I said, 'what no sticker' and everyone looked at me like I had lost my mind.  Guess they don't do that here.

      But they did run out of paper ballots.  Here and it was a problem because traffic had gridlocked and they couldn't get a new supply.

      GOP - Get In, Sit Down, Shut up, & Hang On!

      by 88kathy on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:41:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is good (0+ / 0-)

    to start with, but we need to go further.

    First off:

    PAPER BALLOTS

    HAND COUNTED

    IN PUBLIC

    Paper ballots should be hand counted in front of witnesses, and on camera. Accuracy is more important than speed. If it takes a few days, so what?

    Then we need strict laws, strictly enforced, against bribery, intimidation, or any other kind of interference with vote counters and other election officials.

    Make it unconstitutional for Secretaries of State to be active members of the campaigns of anyone running in their state.

    Devise and enforce nationwide standards for voting to ensure that national results can't be skewed by a few local problems here and there.

    Move Election Day to November 11th, Veterans' Day, in tribute to those who gave all in the name of our democracy. Make it a national paid holiday.

    Keep the polls open from midnight to midnight to give everybody enough time to vote.

    These reforms should go a long way to solving the problems that occurred in 2000 and 2004 and prevent them from recurring.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:28:27 AM PST

  •  Hell yes (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for making the case succinctly.

    ------
    Ideology is when you have the answers before you know the questions.
    It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:33:40 AM PST

  •  Crazy Ideas (0+ / 0-)

    Debra Bowen has done a great job as SoS in CA.  She has worked with the legislature to make voting easier, not harder, in the Golden State.  Goes to show that you can get it right when everyone gives an honest effort.

    CA is on its way to some real progressive voting reforms with the citizens' redistricting commission and top-two primary being in effect this cycle.

  •  Bowen is good but stops quite short (0+ / 0-)

    The 1% random audit is a joke--at best.  Too late and no way to affirm the one-to-one correspondence between the ballot cast and the one that gets tabulated.

    Here's the solution:

    1.  Yes, Optiscan in the precinct because it offers large ballot that can have at least some of the races be double-checked for accuracy--in public and not back-room partisans--  at the precinct BEFORE the ballots are mixed with the large anonymous batch.

    2.  VOTE IN THE PRECINCT if you can and only if that is not possible, then opt for a 2d class voitng method such as absentee ballot voting. and insist on hand counting, by random selection, at least a few of the races to double check the tabulation of the Optiscan (again, that is the preferred machine), and then report the tally results BEFORE the anonymous ballots are sent on their journey to the centralized batch where who knows what ingredients (ballots) can be added into the mix.

    Vote at the precinct, because we can ensure:

    a.  Real Person/One Ballot. That the person who is voting is a real person connected with one ballot and lives in a bona fide really address in the neighborhood

    b.  No Option to Spoil Legitimate Ballots. The signature cannot be thrown out by "vote remote" (which is machine created by Diebold that can calibrated tight or loose on signature matching such as is the case in Los Angeles) --and/or-- whether a person compared your signature to a signature profile created by ChoicePoint or some other contractor of the State to oversee the registration accuracy such as is the case in California)

    c.  Double Check Vulnerable Tabulation Machines. The vote tallies can be hand counted in the precinct -- at least some of the races -- to ensure the vote machines do not have a dual set of data sets (double books) --and/or-- have been violated via simple vote flip that is possible with very little computer expertise (which many official hacks -- from California, Florida, Gov't Accounting Office through to the Brennan Center for Justice has proven is possible.

    JUST SAY NO TO BACKROOM TABULATION!

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 09:18:51 AM PST

  •  We use the optical scanner (0+ / 0-)

    Works in AL pretty well. Despite a long ballot and high turnout it was pretty quick.  Our problem is that the Democratic Party won't put up names for most offices.

  •  Wisconsin uses this system (0+ / 0-)

    Optical scan ballots-- use a black marker to connect arrows.

    Easy, trackable and fast.

    I have a lot more trust in this system than touch screen, black box voting.

  •  In the UK... (0+ / 0-)

    ... it's all done on paper and hand-counted. Go into the booth, put a cross next to the candidate, put it in the ballot box which gets taken to a school gym or council chamber somewhere to be counted by volunteers (supervised by poll-watchers, of course). You do occasionally hear of fraud (of the 'ballot box turned up a week later in someone's car' sort), but on the whole it seems to work well, and we still get the results by the next morning. Obviously, scaling that up to the US may be difficult, but it should be the standard to aim for.

  •  It is not simple at all (0+ / 0-)

    The process of counting is simple so certainly it is no impossible feat to describe a sound voting system on paper.

    That does not make "fixing" the system overall easy. Voting methods vary between states, counties, wards and precinct. Local laws apply. Local resources limit options. All those local laws would have to be changed at the local level. The 10th Amendment makes it hard to impose a uniform standard across the country.

    I see no benefit to declaring this project to be easy. It is not going to be easy to overcome the desire for local control.

    •  well... (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think there is any constitutional bar to implementing some minimum standards for voting equipment and procedures. And I don't think most people consider preserving unverifiable voting to be a states' rights issue, although certainly some do.

      Getting it done will be hard. But conceptually, it isn't so hard.

      Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:37:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The constitution (0+ / 0-)

        Under Article I Section 4 states that:

        The times, places, and manners of holding elections for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter any regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.
        This means that Congress can make laws that the states would have to respect for any election that has the election of members of Congress.

        Article II Section 1 states (concerning elections for President and Vice-President):

        The Congress may determine the time of choosing of the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.
        Unlike the Senate or House elections the Constitution does not provide for Congress to specify the manner nor places of voting for President or Vice-President.

        Perhaps an amendment would be useful to modify Article II Section 1 so it is consistent with Article I Section 4 and we could have at least uniform laws for all federal elections.

        The bigger issue would be elections that involve only state or local issues. That would come under the 10th Amendment.

        I think we would be all best served if the Constitution were to be amended to cover all elections throughout the United States, federal or otherwise. It would require States to voluntarily (at least 38 of them) to give up their 10th Amendment Right.

        There is nothing stopping Congress other than a Presidential veto or Supreme Court ruling from making laws to address the issues. States would either have to accept them or provide two separate voting systems and quite possibly two separate election days if the state did not want to conduct their elections under the same laws as the federal elections. And, of course, the states would be free to have the vote for President on their other system along with state, county, and local races and issues.

        •  that's helpful specificity (0+ / 0-)

          Elsewhere a few of us distinguished between federal and state/local elections, although we didn't further distinguish the presidential contest. Of course an awful lot of legislation and judicial precedent overlays the basic constitutional format.

          As a practical matter, I don't think we need a constitutional amendment to make huge legislative progress on these issues.

          Election protection: there's an app for that! -- and a toll-free hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE
          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 02:51:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think so either (0+ / 0-)

            The one concern would be however, is if you had an obstructionist movement within various states or a political party that stood firmly on 10th amendment grounds.

            The key difference is that while the federal courts and Congress have stepped into various aspects of voting and elections it concerns individual rights to vote that not devolve to the states under the 10th amendment whether it be the equal opportunity clause or the protection clause.

            But when you get into manner, places, and times of voting that is where the trouble starts.

    •  & at the local level RW radio will be used to sabo (0+ / 0-)

      tage all efforts to fix this.

      just as they were instrumental selling HAVA and the electronic monsters in the first place with their nationwide (but invisible to the left) whining  and lying about hanging chads and dimples and the dollar savings to local govt.

      just as it was instrumental selling the voter fraud fraud, swiftboating ACORN, getting state AGs fired, and using the immigration issue to sell voter ID laws across the country while the left slept.

      it was a national effort that rove probably had a lot to do with but that was completely ignored by the left because it was on the AM radio.

      and well paid pros at the think tanks will design local strategies/talking points to obstruct local efforts, delivered by local radio blowhards.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:02:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  If people and businesses can (0+ / 0-)

    manage their funds and bank accounts online, why can't we submit our votes online?

  •  Proud to say I elected Bowen to her 1st office (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ThatSinger

    as CA Assembly member.  Been voting for her ever since.  Hope to vote for her again in whatever office she runs for.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 09:58:42 AM PST

  •  VOTE BY MAIL (0+ / 0-)

    I'm really shocked that this entirely sensible option which so clearly works is so rarely included in this discussion.

  •  I love voting in California. I do it from the (0+ / 0-)

    privacy of my own home.  :)

  •  There is something quite new called the Internets (0+ / 0-)

    that could send votes over a series of tubes. Not kidding, it's a real thing. ;-)

    Stop all the insanity of hanging chads, jammed scan machines, erased memory cards, blah blah

    Then:
    1) You could vote from home or at a public library. No more standing in 12 hour lines before you finally give up.
    2) You could extend the early voting to a month or more with virtually no additional cost.
    3) The system source code could be available for public audit.
    4) You would know who won the minute the last state voting deadline is reached. No more waiting on Florida.

    "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth." - Morpheus

    by CitizenOfEarth on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:10:29 AM PST

  •  receipts. i'd like to see a national standard (0+ / 0-)

    and to include a receipt.

    so the voting machine gives you a paper receipt showing your votes and gives you a receipt i.d.

    then all results have to be posted on natl website, so anybody can verify that their votes and recipt i.d. # match.  privacy is still guarded.

    very hard to code in cheating.  and gives a lot of assurance to the whole touch screen system

    what lincoln said http://cleantechnica.com/2012/10/10/abraham-lincoln-was-on-to-wind-power-long-before-the-rest/

    by rasfrome on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:17:30 AM PST

    •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

      Such a system that gives you a receipt showing how you voted can lead to voter intimidation and buying of votes.

      Your privacy is not guaranteed because the ballot number issued to you is marked in the poll book that you signed at the precinct or is assigned to the absentee (or mail-in ballot) that you submitted.

      Neither the state nor anyone else should know how you specifically voted.

  •  How does one whine (0+ / 0-)

    about the voting process after decisively  winning the election?

    •  "Whine"? Were the people who still stood in line (0+ / 0-)

      in Florida AFTER the race was called for Obama "whining"?

      You think winning the election makes that debacle acceptable? Really?

      Baby, where I come from...

      by ThatSinger on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:30:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is appalling (0+ / 0-)

      that people must wait four hours or more in line just to vote.  What happened in Florida amounted to voter suppression.  Yes, I live in Florida, but thankfully voted absentee this year.

      "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:54:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Try Oregon's vote by mail system (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gulfgal98, Va1kyrie

    it works. It is auditable. No lines.

    seriously, it does work.

    I have never been able to figure out if Fox is the propaganda arm of the Republican party or is the Republican Party the political subsidiary of Fox.

    by Dave from Oregon on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:26:51 AM PST

    •  OR/WA people are invisible in these comments. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deeproots

      It really really works.  Oregonians are very happy with it.  Voter turn-out is really up.  We've been testing it for twenty years now.  There's no waiting, no intimidation, no time pressure.  No transportation or child care costs.  It's really cheap (so we could consider automatic registration if we wanted to spend more money).

      Everybody else can stop trying to come up with a better system.  

      It's already a felony to alter the ballots, so maybe we could add a camera or two, but otherwise we're set.

      Seriously.  

  •  We have the BEST Secretary of State in the USA... (0+ / 0-)

    so very proud of Debra Bowen!

    Baby, where I come from...

    by ThatSinger on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:28:38 AM PST

  •  Debra Bowen is Awesome (0+ / 0-)

    Our voting system under her leadership has become excellent.  Where I live, we have vote by mail as a permanent option if you so choose, and it makes the process painless.

  •  And automatically register people when they (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter

    turn 18 and when immigrants become naturalized citizens.

    I don't know what consciousness is or how it works, but I like it.

    by SocioSam on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:48:45 AM PST

  •  re: optical scan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter

    Among the in person voting systems, I believe optical scan is probably the best and most efficient because there is a real paper trail of real ballot individually filled out.  That said, the system is not fool proof.

    I strongly recommend everyone here take the time to watch Hacking Democracy  which reveals a weakness in that system too.

    The problem is that the tabulation programs can be hacked to produce a pre-determined result without anyone being able to detect it.  Near the end of the film, my own Supervisor of Elections contacted BlackBox Voting to conduct a demonstration on how this can happen.  

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:49:05 AM PST

    •  hack yeah (0+ / 0-)

      1 or 2 lines of computer code can transform the results of any tabulation to anything you want. For example,
      DEM = DEM -.1
      REP = REP +.1
      steals 10% of the votes from one candidate and gives it to the other. Couldn't be simpler.

  •  Voted this was in CA (0+ / 0-)

    works great

    i like the paper trail

  •  Precinct size is a key factor (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MindRayge, Seneca Doane

    Not technically part of the voting system itself, but precinct size is a key factor.

    Clearly, many jurisdictions in Ohio and Florida, to name two states, have mammoth-sized precinct voting centers serving huge numbers of voters (I don't know the exact sizes)--thus the hours-long lines.

    Here in San Francisco, voting precincts average about 1000 voters. Voting is thus village-like; it's just a few blocks of your neighborhood, and likely staffed by some of your neighbors.

    If we're looking at a reform program, it would be useful to add this factor to the actual voting machinery itself.

  •  Good Opportunity to Thank Her (0+ / 0-)

    As a California resident (Alameda County), it made me sick to see people having to wait for hours just to cast a vote. There wasn't a line at my polling place (granted, I went during the middle of the day). Walked in, gave my name, signed the rolls, and was handed a ballot and shown to an empty station. It was remarkably easy and straightforward. My precinct is a working-class, white-minority precinct, and everything went wonderfully. I sincerely hope Obama and the Democrats can do something to address some of these delays.

    So thanks to Secretary of State Bowen and all the Alameda County election and poll workers.

  •  Another aspect that is great in CA (0+ / 0-)

    is how many voting places there are. Ours is in an an senior care facility a few blocks from our house. When we got there, there was no line at all. While walking there,  we saw there was another place in a school one block away. There was another  4 blocks from our house in the other direction. They are in schools, people's garages,  all over the place. And, should you go to the wrong voting place, you can drop off a provisional ballot at any other voting place in the entire friggin' state, no biggie.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people... -Abraham Lincoln

    by HugoDog on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 12:06:00 PM PST

  •  She's not so smart. (0+ / 0-)

    Secretary Bowen rejected new technology developed and successfully tested in California that would have allowed voter registration on IPads, IPhones, and other smart devices.  Fortunately election officials in Nevada, Oregon, and a number of other states were more forward thinking and adopted it to the benefit of Democrats.  Maybe we ought to look elsewhere for advice.

  •  Vote by Mail helps turnout I love it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AllanTBG

    "We don't need someone who can think. We need someone with enough digits to hold a pen." ~ Grover Norquist

    by Lefty Coaster on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 01:27:14 PM PST

  •  if a Department of Election Services is... (0+ / 0-)

    ...ever created on the federal level, I want Bowen in charge.

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 01:53:37 PM PST

  •  there needs to be a "no vote" option... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AgavePup, Seneca Doane

    on paper ballots so cheats can't fill in the blank votes like they did in Oregon.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/...

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 02:00:59 PM PST

  •  This is a great, informative piece, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    I remember well the Diebold voting machines in California. Then I remember their disappearance and the institution of paper ballots. Now I understand why.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:26:44 PM PST

  •  Plus, make it easier... (0+ / 0-)

    More early voting days, longer hours, and more locations, conveniently located. Nevada is a model for the nation: Online registration, 2 weeks of early voting at the supermarket, shopping mall, college campus etc, so you can vote while going about your daily business.

  •  Better than any other idea, except the one. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Why bother with the optical scan step? Just use plenty of humans to count the bloody original ballots!

    No machinery expense to states and localities, no possibility of any shenanigans, no worry about if there are shenanigans you'll have to convince a prosecutor and/or judge to pursue the issue and hopefully give you a recount.

    Count the ballots. You need it done in public, with everyone able to see. Heck, broadcast the counting on the internet, have votes triple- or quadruple-counted and there you are.

    Germany and Ireland do it and have results that evening.

    We don't need any machine at all, just paper and pencils.

    One related note: I'd like to see an Amendment to the Constitution which makes falsifying votes, voting place and times, voting requirements and the like be a crime defined as treason, with no possibility of parole and confiscation of every asset upon conviction. But that's another topic.


    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:51:38 PM PST

  •  I'm late in ready this diary (0+ / 0-)

    and haven't yet read the comments, so I apologize if I'm re-posting others' thoughts.

    How do we get this diary and the related comments in front of those who make decisions? I've heard many suggestions over the past few days about how to fix our election system. The one most-often cited was the creation of a federal elections oversight "board" empowered to implement change.

    Whatever the vehicle, we will need individuals who have the experience and skill set to get the job done before the next presidential election. From this content, it seems Debra Bowen may indeed be "the answer".

    Thank you for this diary on an extremely important subject.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

    by Philly526 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:55:36 PM PST

    •  Are you the one who makes the decisions? (0+ / 0-)

      Oregon got vote-by-mail by citizens' initiative.  

      Half of the states have some sort of direct democracy process including Ohio and Florida.  

      Do we seriously not think a bunch of signatures couldn't be gathered from Floridians and Ohioans at this point?

      •  Thanks for the response. (0+ / 0-)

        And, it's a good point. My concern is the discrepancy among the states' election laws.

        I agree, that states whose issues have been obvious and well publicized could garner citizens' signatures to address the problems. I wonder, though, about those states where the outcomes and voting challenges aren't as well known across the country.

        Thanks again for taking time to respond.

        "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

        by Philly526 on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 05:09:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Joan Grow was there first! (0+ / 0-)

    Minnesota has used that system since the 1970s--we've updated our ballots and scanners a bit, but that's all.

    And our voting is FAST!

  •  enough machines for the location is also important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    Something like a federal law mandating a minimum # of voting machines per registered voter (or just population) would help as well. The calculation might need a variable for how many hours voting is open to deal with Republicans closing early voting. Any place with hour long lines shows a failure of planning by the election officials.

  •  Debra Bowen is as good and gracious as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    politicians come.  I hope that she'll be Governor someday and I wish that she could be President.  That's not the sort of praise I hand out lightly.

    Pro-Occupy Democratic Candidate for California State Senate, District 29 & Occupy OC Civic Liaison.

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky

    by Seneca Doane on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:14:38 PM PST

  •  PNEUMATIC TUBES (0+ / 0-)

    WHICH TRANSPORT COLOR-CODED BALLS CHOSEN BY VOTER

    TO CLEAR TALL SKINNY CONTAINERS.

    SCANNERS COUNT THE BALLS.

    EYEBALLS VERIFY THE WINNERS AND LACK OF TAMPERING (EXCEPT IN VERY CLOSE ELECTIONS).

  •  Our county used the paper ballots (0+ / 0-)

    With the optical scan.

    Of course, it's pretty much Republican, so they want it to be right.

    Other parts of our state don't fare so well, especially in the more Democratic areas. Looks like they targeted them almost exclusively.

    Women create the entire labor force. Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 01:42:52 PM PST

  •  And it's cheaper!!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    1 optical scan machine / maybe 2 if you think that waiting four seconds for the person in front of you to feed his or her ballot into the slot is too long to wait.

    Vs.

    20-50 suitcase computer stations, complete with touch screen monitors, that will all - literally - go out of date in 2 election cycles.

    SOMEONE is getting rich off voting machines.

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