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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Justice Ginsburg Republishes TX Photo ID Law Dissent After BRAD BLOG Cites Error
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Everything Old is Texas Again
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


A Rare BRAD BLOG Endorsement and an Exclusive Election Eve Interview with the Woman Who Might Save American Democracy
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2006 1:40pm PT  

We don't generally do endorsements around here for the most part. In the case of California state Senator Debra Bowen's primary race to be the Democratic nominee for California's Secretary of State, however, we're more than happy to make an exception.

While many Californians --- and even more non-Californians --- may not know it, the path towards restoring America's crumbling democracy may well rest in a little noticed primary race that will take place here on Tuesday.

Bowen, as state senator and chair of the state's Election Committee in Sacramento, has led the way where few Democratic elected officials have even bothered to acquaint themselves. Specifically, Bowen has studied, learned, investigated, held hearings and delved deep into that murky territory of electronic voting, electoral integrity and the threat to our democracy posed by the privatization of our public electoral system by corporate interests using secret software to "count" America's votes.

As private and partisan corporations such as Diebold, ES&S, Sequoia, Hart InterCivic and all the rest have spidered out across the electoral landscape, usurping American values in the name of insidious corporate greed and at the expense of transparency, auditability and confidence in our once-great American democracy --- all at the cost and waste of billions of your taxpayer dollars, by the way --- few politicians have bothered to wend their way through the impossibly arcane and brain-withering technical details wherein the devil lies, most assuredly, in these matters of electronic voting.

An avowed computer geek, Bowen has been paying attention to these matters from the get-go while the vast majority of elected pols today do little more than whistle past democracy's graveyard. She has fought for electoral integrity by successfully moving legislation into law which mandates audits (only 1%, but hey, it's a start) and paper records (not paper ballots, but hey, it's a start) for every vote cast in the Golden State.

While one would think such ideas would be no-brainers for every state in the union, it's remarkable how few seem to give a damn about any of those ideas and, in fact, have gone out of their way to fight off mandates for such accountability in elections. Debra Bowen, on the other hand, does give a damn...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Voting Systems in Question Were Used Last Week in Ohio Primary, Soon in Pennsylvania, So 'Serious' Few Details Are Being Released
All Diebold Touch-Screen Machines, In All States, Said to be Affected by 'Horrifying' Vulnerability, Systems 'Sequestered' in PA
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2006 1:24pm PT  

We've now been able to gather a great deal of additional information concerning details about the story we first posted yesterday on the official Pennsylvania state warning issued about the new "security vulnerability" discovered in all Diebold touch-screen electronic voting machines.

That warning, which has now brought a lock-down on all Diebold systems in PA, where early absentee (non-machine) voting is about to begin prior to their upcoming May 16th primary election, was reported by the Morning Call yesterday. The warning says the serious security vulnerability could allow ''unauthorized software to be loaded on to the system."

Public details about the warning are still sketchy as those in the know have acknowledged that the problem is so serious, they are hoping to keep the info under wraps until mitigation steps can be taken to safeguard systems.

The BRAD BLOG has been told on the record, however, by one person involved in the matter, that the vulnerability is a "major national security risk."

We've been speaking to many sources today, and we've been able to get several first hand comments on the problem from top officials and analysts directly involved in both state and federal certification of the Diebold systems, as well as from those involved in the initial discovery of the problem.

What's clear is that Morning Call's reporting that it was Diebold who found the "glitch" are flat wrong. The discovery of the "glitch" (which is anything but) emanated from the examination of Diebold AccuVote TSx (touch-screen) machines recently in Emery County, UT.

A source has told The BRAD BLOG that Diebold was "cornered" into admitting to the problem, a far cry from them having "found" it, as the Morning Call characterized it.

What's also clear is that neither Diebold themselves, nor federal officials at the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) have been notifying states about the serious problem which apparently affects all Diebold AccuVote touch-screen systems, including both their newer TSx models, and the older TS and TS6 models.

The Diebold TSx models, with the security vulnerability still intact, were apparently used in the primary election last Tuesday in Ohio.

A document at Diebold's website describes [PDF] the TSx models as featuring "Industry Leading Security."

In Utah's Emery County, state officials are attempting to force Bruce Funk, the 23-year elected County Clerk out of his job in the wake of his having allowed a security evaluation of the county's new Diebold touch-screen systems by both computer security firm Security Innovation and Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti. According to several sources, that analysis revealed many new vulnerabilities and problems in the Diebold touch-screen systems, including the one that seems to be at the heart of the problem now being warned about by Pennsylvania officials.

Funk --- who has since been "vilified," as one source told us, by both Diebold and Utah state officials as high as the Lt. Governor --- was forced to implement the new Diebold touch-screen systems for the first time this year against his own objections. His prudent subsequent security evaluation of the systems was arranged by electronic voting watchdog organization, BlackBoxVoting.org. (We recently interviewed Funk on the radio concerning that evaluation, and his subsequent removal from office in its wake. Listen to that interview here [MP3].)

Here's some of what we've so far been able to learn from a number of officials, both on the record and off, in Pennsylvania, elsewhere around the country and at the federal level, as well as those involved in the initial Emery County discoveries...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Carolyn Wilson Crnich Admits Hackable Diebold Optical-Scan Voting Machines Kept at Poll Worker Homes the Night Before Elections
Can't Speak to Security Vulnerabilities
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2006 2:36am PT  

Blogged by Brad on the Road...

I know I'm supposed to be taking a few hours off (how's that going, Brad?)...But I couldn't help sharing with you a quick piece of audio from my regular Friday guest appearance on KRXA 540am's Peter B. Collins Show today (broadcast out of Monterey, CA).

I was pleased that Carolyn Wilson Crnich, Elections Registrar of Humboldt County, CA was able to join us on air for one of the segments (posted below.)

Crnich is one of the officials named as a defendant in the recent lawsuit against CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and other county elections officials around the state. The suit calls for the ban of use and purchase of Diebold touch-screen voting systems in the state since (amongst other reasons) they have proven to be hackable and their recent certification was in violation of state law requiring all certified voting systems to conform to Federal Voting System Standards. Diebold's machines do not conform to such standards because they contain "interpreted code" --- which is specifically banned by the Federal standards. Diebold has now admitted to the existence of such code on their systems. The forbidden code went unexamined and untested by Federal authorities when the machines received Federal certification.

Nonetheless, Crnich (we believe) is one of the good guys. She's proven willing to dump her previous plan to use Diebold AccuVote TSx (touch-screen) machines, which she was going to use in order to meet the disabled-accessible voting device requirement in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). She is now hoping to use the paper-ballot based Vote-PAD system in Humboldt County this year instead.

However, as our on-air conversation revealed, there are still very serious concerns with Humboldt County's optical-scan system since they use the very system, made by Diebold, which was shown to be hackable last December in Leon County, FL.

Of note in our conversation, Crnich admits that optical-scan systems are sent home with poll workers the night before elections where --- even if the hackable memory cards are wired into the machine so they can't be removed --- they can still be accessed by other means. If so, a malicious poll worker could modify the code on the memory cards, allowing an election to be hacked without a trace left behind during that breakdown in chain of custody for such home-stored voting machines.

Give the interview and discussion between Crnich, myself and Peter B. a listen. See what you think. It's good to have such an admission on the public record, and the fact that she admits to not knowing what could happen when these machines are stored at poll workers' houses.

Again, I'm glad she was willing (unlike many other Elections Officials around the country) to come on air and face some of these tough questions. Happy to hear your thoughts.

-- Carolyn Wilson Crnich, with Brad on the Peter B. Collins Show, 3/24/06 [MP3, about 13 mins]
-- Complete Brad appearance on Peter B. Collins Show, 3/24/06 [MP3, about 35 mins, and quite a bit funnier, IMHO]

(Thanks to Joe at the Peter B. show for sending the audio!)

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FEATURING: An EXCLUSIVE Video Tape Interview with CA's Clueless SoS Stating 'We'll Wait to Hear from the Feds About Diebold Before Certifying' (apparently, he was just kidding)
ALSO: Action Items for Americans Who Care About Democracy --- Five Phone Calls is All We Ask Right Now to Force E-Voting Vendors to Answer Questions Under Oath!
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2006 2:18pm PT  

Inveterate Huff Po contributor, R.J. Eskow picks up on our coverage of the latest mind-blowing Dieboldery by California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson and what it may bode for the Golden State as the GOP sets their sights on political manifest destiny.

Connecting a few dots, and noting big Bush Adminstration gunslingers, like Steve Schmidt, who are roving their way westward to help shore up the Governator's re-elect prospects out here, Eskow concludes:

So what does this all mean? It suggests that California, with its treasure trove of congressional seats and 2008 electoral votes, is the next battleground. Yes, Gov. Schwarzenegger is wildly unpopular now. But, as the GOP proved in the 2004 Presidential race, unpopularity need not be a barrier to re-election - especially when Diebold machines are counting the votes.

All the 'heavy hitters' are coming into town, their shiny cars pulling up to the curb. You've seen the movie. You know what happens next. If you live in California, my friend and blog-comrade skippy has a suggestion for how you can help.

Note: Eskow's appropriate concerns about McPherson's inexplicable Diebold double-cross don't even mention the Dept. of Homeland Security's warning about their hackable tabulator software, the recently flipped-without-a-trace-left-behind mock election in Leon County, FL, the GAO Report confirming the dangers of electronic voting, and his link to a page describing the failure rate of Diebold machines in a massive election test last summer pins the percentage of failed Diebold touch-screen machines at just 10% (a later report confirmed the number was more like 20%, and a later one still pegged it at 30%.)

It also still remains unexplained why McPherson didn't wait to hear back from the federal "Independent Testing Authority" (ITA) --- which isn't actually independent, as it's created and funded by the Voting Machine Companies themselves --- to whom McPherson had sent back the Diebold memory cards after the Leon County hack test revealed their machines employed hackable "interpreted code" which is expressly banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) guidelines for software used in electronic voting machines.

Back in December, McPherson's office sent a letter to Diebold explaining that they would not re-certify Diebold in California until the ITA completed their re-examination of the code in light of the hack test discovery:

We require this additional review before proceeding with further consideration of your application for certification in California. Once we have received a report from the federal ITA adequately analyzing this source code, in addition to the technical and operational specifications relating to the memory card and interpreter, we will expeditiously proceed with our comprehensive review of your application.

Apparently, the SoS's office was just kidding.

They went ahead and re-certified Diebold out here last week without waiting to hear back. They announced their decision late on Friday, at the start of the long holiday weekend and in apparent defiance of state election law and McPherson's own "10 Strict Standards" [PDF] which include "State certification testing does not begin until the federal qualification testing is successfully completed."

Apparently, he was just kidding about that as well.

With all of that in mind, readers of this blog would be remiss if they failed to take the actions described in Eskow's link to Skippy. Five phone-calls and/or emails this week are all that may be needed to finally see representatives from these unpatriotic Voting Machine firms subpeonaed and forced to answer questions --- under oath --- in a public hearing before elected officials concerning their secret software, shitty machines and under-the-table efforts to work around state and federal election laws. Hit that link, and call the five members of the California legislature's Rules Committee now!

By the way, McPherson himself also refused to show up at that hearing and refused to send a representative from his office to boot.

It should also be noted that Diebold is not the only bad player here. Add ES&S, Hart-Intercivic, Sequoia and several others to the list of cowardly unAmerican firms who recently refused the invitation to show up to testify before the California State Senate's Election Committee last week. All of those companies, apparently, believe it's none of our damned business how they count the votes (or not) in our American democracy.

Take action.

For full disclosure, we should also mention that we had the privilege of meeting both R.J. and Skippy in person over the weekend in an L.A. Blogger's get together out here. Good folks all of them, and we're delighted to see them jump into this most important game of all.

And finally --- since we've been looking for a good excuse to post this video --- we'll take this opportunity to give you an exclusive peek inside the "brain" of the man whose perplexing decision to re-certify voting machines and software known to be flawed and hackable may well effect similar decisions by Elections Officials around the entire country.

The following short Q&A with CA's SoS was video-taped by Dave Berman of GuvWurld about two weeks prior to the recent about face by McPherson. It's somewhat revealing --- particularly in the last couple of minutes where Dave gets to ask the questions --- as to the mindset and intellectual capabilities of the man currently appointed by Arnold to oversee free and fair elections in the country's largest "voting market" (as Diebold refers to it).

At one point in the questioning, when asked about the re-examination of Diebold software by the ITA, McPherson says, "If they're going to be certified, they're going to have to meet those levels of satisfactions to me...We, uh, we've, uh, just said that, uh, you have to meet these strict requirements and if they do, we'll consider it."

Apparently, McPherson was just kidding there as well....Since he recertified them without, apparently, waiting to hear back from the ITA.

Without further ado then, we give you the man, the myth, the elusive and rarely seen genius that is California Sec. of State Bruce McPherson --- as videotaped exclusively about two weeks ago in Humboldt County, just prior to his re-certification of Diebold voting machines in this state.


-- Video in Streaming Flash format...
-- Video in Windows Media format...

UPDATE: CA State Senator Debra Bowen (chair of the Senate Elections Committee) issues her own call to action to force McPherson to review his outrageous decision. Her reasons are summarized thusly:

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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State Senator Outraged, Says Machines, Certification Violates State, Federal Standards and Law...
SoS' Own Report Agrees! McPherson Waits Until 5pm Friday of Holiday Weekend to Announce! [UPDATED WITH MUCH MORE INFO...]
By John Gideon on 2/17/2006 6:29pm PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon (with some additional updates/info from Brad)

Updated with much more information...

Secretary of State McPherson seems to have a thing for making major announcements late on Fridays just before holidays. Following in what seems to be a pattern of his, he announced late this afternoon that he was certifying Diebold Optical Scan and AccuVote TSx (touch-screens) for use in elections in the state.

The re-certification (they had been originally decertified in California in 2004 when it was revealed Diebold had installed illegal software updates on the machines) is conditional on some items but not on the one thing point he had announced last December when he sent the system back to federal authorities for further testing. At that time he said he was sending the machine's memory cards to the federal Independent Testing Authority (ITA) Lab for reinspection in light of the news out of Leon County, Florida that the cards used "intepreted code" which is specifically banned by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). A "hack test" in that county revealed that an entirely election could have its results flipped by a hacker exploiting that "interpreted code" --- without a trace being left behind.

McPherson made his announcement today without waiting to hear back from the ITA lab.

Last summer, after a massive mock election test with Diebold touch-screen machines revealed that 10% of them failed entirely with screens freezing and printers jamming --- later reports would reveal that as many as 30% of the machines actually failed! --- McPherson said, "We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters."

Apparently the Secretary of State of America's largest "voting market," as Diebold refers to it, was just kidding about that.

State Senator Debra Bowen, (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee issued the following Press Release after learning of McPherson's remarkable decision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Evan Goldberg (###) ###-4028/(###) ###-9176

February 17, 2006

BOWEN ON SECRETARY OF STATE'S DECISION TO RE-CERTIFY DIEBOLD MACHINES FOR USE IN CALIFORNIA

SACRAMENTO ? "How the Secretary can re-certify the Diebold machines when they don't comply with California law, they violate the standards set by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that the Secretary said he intended to follow, and he still doesn't have the report back from the ITAs that he said he was waiting for is beyond me."

That's how Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment, & Constitutional Amendments Committee, reacted to today's decision by the Secretary of State to re-certify Diebold's electronic voting machines for the 2006 elections.

"Last December, the Secretary announced with great fanfare that he was sending the Diebold machines back for review by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) because the memory cards those machines rely on hadn't been reviewed," continued Bowen. "Now, contrary to what he said two months ago, he's approving the Diebold machines without waiting for the report from the ITAs. Instead, he's basing his decision on a supposedly 'independent state audit' that no one has seen before today. There's a March 1 public hearing for four other voting machine vendors before their machines can be certified for use in California, so what was the rush to certify Diebold and side-step a public hearing on this issue?"

Seventeen California counties rely on the Diebold optical scan machines and a number of other counties have bought or are planning to buy the Diebold TSx touch-screen machines to use in the 2006 elections in order to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Secretary's decision is only good for the 2006 elections and comes with a number of conditions.

"In August, the Secretary said any machine approved in California would have to comply with all federal standards and regulations, yet the EAC bans machines that contain interpreted code and these Diebold machines rely on that type of code to operate, so he's gone back on that commitment," continued Bowen. "In December, he said he'd wait for a report from the ITAs before acting on the Diebold re-certification request, yet now he's re-certified the Diebold machines without hearing from the ITAs. He says he's acting based on the recommendations of an 'independent state audit' that came out on Tuesday, but the California State Auditor hasn't issued any reports on this issue and hasn't been asked to do a report. Asking a board appointed by the Secretary to make recommendations doesn't constitute an 'independent state audit' in my book.

"The other thing that no one has mentioned is the fact that the Diebold machines don't comply with the state's paper trail law because they don't provide blind or visually impaired voters with a 'read-back' of what the paper trail recorded, they only read back what the machine recorded electronically," noted Bowen. "That's not what the law requires, yet the Secretary has decided to go ahead and approve these machines for use anyway. If the Secretary wants to say he's changing his mind and lowering the safeguards California voters are entitled to have to ensure their votes are accurately counted, that's certainly his decision to make, but saying these Diebold machines comply with state law and with all federal regulations and requirements simply isn't accurate."

Under Elections Code Sections 19250 and 19251, all direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems have to come with an accessible voter verified paper audit trail (AVVPAT). The AVVPAT must be "provided or conveyed to voters via both a visual and a nonvisual method, such as through an audio component." The Diebold TSx doesn't contain that feature, therefore making the AVVPAT that all DREs are required to have as of January 1, 2006, useless for blind or visually-impaired voters.

###

VOTING SYSTEMS HEARINGS, MARCH 1:
Also of note is the announcement of public hearings (as mentioned in Bowen's release) persuant to the certification of various voting systems, many of which are still not federally qualified. This announcement is not accompanied by any of the test reports necessary for citizens to go to this hearing with any knowledge of what the state found in their testing. Perhaps this is because none of these systems have been tested by the state yet?

...DEVELOPING...MUCH MORE BELOW...UPDATES, ACTION ITEMS, ADDITIONAL INFO...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Mainstream Media Reports Indicating Scheduled Attempt to 'Hack' Voting Machines Appear to Be Incorrect
State, Activists Still Negotiating Paramaters, Scheduling of Test as State and Federal Deadlines Draw Near?
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2005 7:03pm PT  

With Additional Reporting by John Gideon

On Friday, November 25, a news story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle by political writer John Wildermuth reporting that the California Secretary of State's office would be allowing Election Reform activists to perform an attempted hack of voting machines on Wednesday, November 30th. That report was soon picked up by the Associated Press and other outlets where it was repeated, in part, in newspapers, radio and television across the nation. Headlines along the line of "Hacker to try to attack state voting machines" were blared across the media throughout the holiday weekend.

While the story seems to be based in some reality, reporting by The BRAD BLOG over the last several days has revealed that the matter seems to be a far cry from the way it has been reported by the Mainstream Media. In fact, while negotiations for such a test are ongoing, the parameters to be used are still being hashed out, no definite schedule has yet to be determined, and Finnish computer scientist Harry Hursti, who created this particular method for hacking into Diebold voting machines has made no plans at this time to travel to the United States to perform the hack attempt.

Such a test, if performed, could be crucial to a decision soon to be made by CA Sec. of State Bruce McPherson about whether to allow various Diebold voting systems in the state. That decision, in turn, will likely effect decisions by other states and counties around the U.S., all of whom are facing a January 1, 2006 deadline set by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to be met if jurisdictions are to receive millions of dollars in Federal money to help pay for "upgraded" Electoral Systems.

California's Republican Sec. of State McPherson had famously refused to re-certified Diebold's AccuVote TSx touch-screen voting machines over the summer after a major test in the state had found that some 20% of the machines had failed to perform as promised with printers jamming and screens freezing at an unacceptable rate. Diebold's machines had previously been de-certified by former Democratic Sec. of State Kevin Shelley. McPherson's sudden about-face concerning Diebold has caught many by surprise. The potential change of position towards Diebold was discovered recently and sent a shockwave through the Election Reform activist community who then converged on Sacramento to complain about the apparent flip-flop by the Sec. of State.

The Mainstream Media --- Apparently Misled by the Sec. of State --- Gets It All Wrong?

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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10% of Screens Freeze, Printers Jam in 'Massive Mock Election Test'
Ohio Unconcerned, Sticking with Diebold
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2005 1:00pm PT  

Great news from today's Oakland Tribune! California, the country's largest voting "market" rejects Diebold. Again...And hopefully for the last time...

After possibly the most extensive testing ever on a voting system, California has rejected Diebold's flagship electronic voting machine because of printer jams and screen freezes, sending local elections officials scrambling for other means of voting.

"There was a failure rate of about 10 percent, and that's not good enough for the voters of California and not good enough for me," Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said.
...
"We certainly can't take any kind of risk like that with this kind of device on California voters," McPherson said.

Rejection of the TSx by California, the nation's largest voting-system market, could influence local elections officials from Utah, Mississippi and Ohio, home of Diebold corporate headquarters, where dozens of counties are poised to purchase the latest Diebold touch screens.

State elections officials in Ohio say they still have confidence in the machines.

"Absolutely," said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office.
...
McPherson denied approval of the TSx after a series of failed tests, culminating in a massive, mock election conducted on 96 of the machines in a San Joaquin County warehouse. San Joaquin is one of three California counties that purchased a total of 13,000 TSx machines in 2003 for more than $40 million and have paid to warehouse them ever since.
...
Elections officials and voting activists said they had never heard of more extensive testing for a single voting system, outside of an actual election.
...
Ordinarily, states and the National Association of State Elections Directors approve voting systems after labs hired by the manufacturers perform tests on a handful of machines. The Diebold TSx managed to get through those tests ? twice. But none of the testing standards addresses printers on electronic voting machines, even though more than 20 states either require a so-called paper trail or are debating such a requirement.

For years, voters have reported frozen screens and other glitches in the polling place.

"It's always been the voters' word against election officials' and the vendors'," Alexander said. "Now we have real proof right before the eyes of state elections officials."

ReddIt this story!



By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2005 12:27pm PT  

According to the LA Times...

City Clerk Frank Martinez used a different voting system, which meant few problems Tuesday with collecting ballots and counting votes.
...
In place of the InkaVote system, voters Tuesday were handed a simple paper ballot that listed each race or issue and required them to use a marker to fill in an oval next to their choices.

Imagine that.

ReddIt this story!



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