I know I shouldn't be, but I'm still amazed at the absolute cluelessness of far too many election officials. Yes, some of them are great, know exactly what they're talking about, and realize that the electronic voting systems we use in this nation --- every single one of them --- are complete garbage.
Last month, we reported on a recent Palm Beach County, FL, election in which the paper-ballot optical-scan system declared several losing candidates as the "winners." Thanks to the diligence the Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher --- who told me when we spoke, "I don't want you to have to trust your election officials. I think your election officials have to prove it." --- the software failure on the Sequoia Voting Systems tabulator was discovered and the correct winners of the election were ultimately discovered via a 100% hand-count instead, weeks after the election.
Also last month, we highlighted two great election officials in Columbia County, NY where both the Democratic and Republican Election Commissioners are smart enough to refuse to rely on the electronic optical-scanners made by Dominion Voting that were forced on them by the state. They choose, instead, to count 100% of their paper ballots by hand.
"Since I, as election commissioner, have to certify to the accuracy of any election run under my watch, that steers me in the direction of a more elemental process --- a hand count under the watchful gaze of individuals who are invested in its accuracy," Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin wrote in her must-read 2010 op-ed, explaining her refusal to rely on computer tabulated elections. The Republican Commissioner, Jason Nastke, agrees with his counterpart. "The most accurate and reliable method is a 100% visual audit," he told The Columbia Paper, "The machines are not completely reliable."
Late last year The BRAD BLOG reported in detail on the Interim Board of Elections (two Republicans, one Democrat) in Venango County, PA, who bucked their own County Commissioners and legal threats from ES&S, the nation's largest e-voting company, to have their 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems independently investigated after failures in several recent elections. The forensic study found the central tabulator had been "remotely accessed" by someone on "multiple occasions," including for 80 minutes on the night before the 2010 general election. As thanks, the commissioners were pushed out of their jobs before the investigation was completed. Asked why the County Commissioners and ES&S were so opposed to an independent forensic analysis by two Carnegie-Mellon computer scientists, the Republican Director of the Board, Craig Adams told me: "They know there's something wrong."
Those are just a few of the many great election officials I've had the pleasure of reporting on over the years, and the voters of their respective counties are very lucky to be served by them.
And then there are the election officials of Anchorage, Alaska, where, on April 3rd, there was another disastrous election, held on Diebold op-scan systems, in a state becoming known for its disastrous elections.
"Those are amazing machines - utterly amazing," Anchorage Election Commissioner Gwen Mathew told members of the Anchorage Assembly last Friday night during a working session as they tried to unravel the latest disaster.
"It is impossible for them to go haywire," she misinformed the law makers. "They are highly accurate. I think that I could almost say that they're totally accurate. I've never found a discrepancy."
"You can get as 'conspiracy theory' as you want," Anchorage's Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke said when I asked her about some of the many reported concerns about the validity of the election in Alaska on Monday. She seemed to have even more faith in the infallibility of the machines than Mathew...