Tight Three-Way Race Falling Victim to Crappy Voting Technology - Who Could Have Predicted It?
RELATED: Federal Bill That Wouldn't Have Corrected the Problem - Rush Holt's HR 811 - Back 'In the Freezer' in the House, According to Roll Call...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2007, 2:16pm PT  

We were in Nashville a couple of months ago, at a meeting of the Davidson County Board of Elections. We tried to warn them that they would run into trouble with their ES&S touch-screen voting machines, probably sooner, rather than later. But the Kool-Aid drunk Republicans on the board would have none of it. "Paper ballots are the biggest scam ever perpetrated on America," one of them told us. To our astonishment, he actually seemed to believe himself.

That GOP blend must be some very tasty Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, the nice Democrats who were in the majority on the board sat there and said and did nothing. They were very very nice. And completely clueless.

And now, next door in Memphis (Shelby County), where they use equally bad Diebold touch-screen machines, Mayor Willie Herenton is calling for an end to Early Voting, which began this week, as reports of votes flipping began coming into his office just after polls opened...

As John Gideon noted, in awarding her his "Enemy of Democracy" prize yesterday, the clueless County Commission Chair, Myra Stiles (don't know her party affiliation, don't care), told the local ABC affiliate: "We're comfortable with the fact that we tested those machines and there is nothing wrong with the way the machines are recording the votes. Apparently it's an issue of public education. If people press in the wrong area they're going to get the wrong result."

Stiles either hates democracy, has been living in a cave for the past three years, or, more likely, realizes that it's her ass if she admits what everyone knows: The voting system she approved for her county isn't worthy of a Banana Republic, much less American democracy, and she --- not the mayor --- should be run out of town for it.

Memphis citizens ought to start lighting their torches and grabbing their pitchforks out of their garages, as early voting numbers are apparently huge so far, and someone is gonna be screwed here. Some 15,000 citizens have reportedly already cast(away) their votes on the Diebold TSx machines.

Local schizophrenic pollster Berje Yacoubian seems to understand the problem in one breath, but dismisses it in the next. "Is he (Mayor Herenton) sounding an undue alarm? Probably overblown right now," Yacoubian reportedly said, before acknowledging that the issue could easily undermine the results of a "really close" three-way race for Mayor.

Yacoubian says the Diebold voting machines currently being used across the country are known to have up to a 5% error rate. He say that small margin could make a big difference on [Election Day] October 4th. He adds, "The only time you really have a problem is if it's a really close race. Guess what? This is going to be a really close race."

Herenton's two opponents believe the Mayor's concerns that voters should have their vote recorded accurately are ridiculous. We guess they each must believe they are going to win.

2008 is going to be a fucking nightmare.

But the good related-ish news is that Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill (HR 811) --- which would have made the situation worse by offering a false sense of security and the institutionalization of touch-screen voting machines --- is once again "stalled" in the House, according to Roll Call today:

House Democratic leaders continued to keep the controversial paper ballot bill in the freezer this week in the face of continued opposition from local elections officials, and they have demanded that proponents get firm commitments backing the bill before bringing it to the floor.

We take no comfort in siding with "local elections officials" on this one, and oppose the bill for entirely different reasons than they do. But perhaps the stall will allow a real solution to emerge for this nightmare before the real meltdown hits us next year.

Working on it.