Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Luzerne County to get new voting machines

With a financial gun against their heads Commissioners Greg Skrepenak, Stephen Urban and Todd Vonderheid unanimously selected the iVotronic System by Nebraska-based Electronic Systems and Software to replace our aging lever machines. They were forced to act because if the machines were not in place by May 16, the county would risk losing a $3 million federal Help America Vote Act grant. Right now there is no guarantee the company can deliver the machines in time for the primary election and they may have to to be modified if the state and federal governments mandate a paper trail.

The decision has it's critics such as Pam Smith, a nationwide coordinator for a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to reliable and publicly verifiable elections. The machine does not allow the county to conduct legitimate audits or recounts, Smith claimed. The machine's verified paper audit trail component is not state certified. As a result, county officials cannot legally use paper audit trails to back up election results.

These machines have been used in Florida with less than great results.

A touchscreen election saga

But the machines proved problematic from the start in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Inadequate training and a lack of familiarity with the equipment appeared to be at fault. Lori Nance Parrish, chairwoman of the Broward County Board of Commissioners, told the Washington Post that poll workers at 50 polling stations failed to pick up the devices needed to turn on the machines the night before the election. It became apparent at the beginning of the day that there would be problems. Reno waited more than 20 minutes to vote as she and reporters watched precinct workers struggle to activate the machines. Problems continued throughout the day, as poll workers discovered they did not know how to change the machine's batteries or download votes after the polls closed. Various reports said that poll workers, frustrated over the new machines, failed to show up on election day or left before the balloting was completed. At least 600 voters left the polls without casting ballots, according to the AP.

Every critic of these machines say a major flaw is the lack of a paper trail. That's easy to fix without buying $3,000 machines, use paper ballots. It is more important to get it right than to do it now.

The Coalition for Voting Integrity is leading the charge on this issue:

Welcome to, a nonpartisan organization headquartered in historic Bucks County, serving all of Pennsylvania. We call on Americans of all parties to join together and support the adoption of a system of checks and balances that ensures the integrity of our elections, guaranteeing that every vote is recorded, counted, and reported accurately . . . with proof. The vote belongs to us. It is up to us to preserve, protect and defend it. Now.

And Factesque has been organizing a blogswarm.

1 comment:

Doctor Rick said...

How long until the "I didn't know how to use it" or "there's a bug in the system"?