Who Could Have Foreseen It?!...Apparently not Senators Feinstein and Bennett Who Have Announced New Federal Legislation Which Will Allow the Use of These Very Machines for Years...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2008, 2:47pm PT  

As God is my witness, there will be blood...okay, hopefully not blood...but massive Election Disasters this November. Disasters which might have, should have, could have, otherwise been averted had Election Officials bothered to actually read this blog every couple of days over the last four years, and done a damned thing about it other than make excuses for their horrible decisions and continuing state of denial.

Keep in mind, we are going to save the most troubling aspect of this report for the very end, so those of you who can take no more of this garbage, will be able to bail out before hand.

If you can take it, prepare to be amazed by the end, as we wend through the massive failures in Arkansas last Tuesday, through mind-blowing new (disastrous) federal "Electronic Voting Reform" legislation just announced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with Sen. Bill Bennett (R-UT), before landing in West Virginia, where a candidate on last week's ballot assures us everything is just fine because the guy spotted by voters opening up the voting machines and going inside of them to make adjustments at the polls during Election Day was him.

It's as bad as it sounds. Read on, if you feel strong enough, otherwise, abandon hope all ye who enter here...

ES&S MELTDOWN IN WHITE COUNTY, ARKANSAS...

Yesterday, we explained some of the details of what went horribly wrong on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen and op-scan system across White County, Arkansas during their local primary elections on Tuesday. Today, Warren Watkins of The Daily Citizen goes into much further detail on the massive "fiasco".

First, congrats and thank you where it's due: Watkins, in his detailed article on the major "malfunctions," "failures," and "errors" in the "fiasco", doesn't once use the words "glitch" "hiccup" "snafu" or "snag". For that lack of minimization of these election failures alone, Watkins deserves a Pulitzer prize in this pathetic day and age.

His explanation of all that went wrong in what should have been a small, simple, set of local elections, is simply breathtaking in it's scope, and serves (yet again) as an object lesson for what this country's Election Officials "could never have foreseen" after it will surely happen this November and beyond. Among the remarkable failures in WHite County, as reported by Watkins:

  • An "error of 5,360 votes, or 86 percent above the number of votes cast" in a circuit judge race, discovered only after huge vote count disparities were noted by one of the candidates. The result of the circuit judge race was overturned after the disparities --- due to thousands of votes double-counted --- were noted, and the race was recounted.
  • Ballots were programmed prior to daylight savings time, so the machines would not allow for shut down at the close of polls as the machines were not set to handle the election, which took place during daylight savings time, properly.
  • Absentee ballots, also read by an ES&S product, could not be read when "on primary election night the county’s only unit capable of doing so malfunctioned. Provided by ES&S, the vote-counting machine’s failure resulted in a hand count of the absentee ballots both on election night and during the recount later Wednesday."
  • Names were left off the ballot, and in at least one race (Justice of the Peace, District 2, Union Township) "voters were not allowed to vote at first," forcing the use of paper ballots. "Further investigation...is underway to see if enough votes were lost due to the mistake to make a difference. Only 14 votes separated the two candidates."

ES&S, of course, is the same company who made the iVotronic touch-screen machines used in Sarasota County's infamous 13th Congressional District election in 2006, where 18,000 votes were lost completely, in a race ultimately decided by just 369 votes. The problem led the state of Florida to finally ban such systems entirely.

Arkansas, however, and thousands of jurisdictions around the country, still use the same machines anyway. In no small part, because the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is simply unwilling to do their job and decertify these failed machines all together --- much less even warn about their dangers --- as they should, and as they are mandated by federal law to do.

TOUCH-SCREEN VOTING FOREVER! FEINSTEIN/BENNETT'S NEW FEDERAL LEGISLATION...

Yeah, we're as sick of these stories as you are. So if you can stomach no more, do not click here to read the announcement of Sen. Diane Feinstein's (D-CA) agreement with Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) for a "Bipartisan Electronic Voting Reform" bill that will institutionalize the very type of wholly unverifiable touch-screen voting systems which already have a years-long record of dismal failure.

Though their press release says the legislation "would help ensure the accuracy, security and accessibility of voting systems," it will, of course, do nothing of the sort. It will only continue our long national election nightmare for years to come.

"Under the Act," the press release reads, "voters casting their ballots using direct recording electronic (touch screen) voting systems would be able to simultaneously verify their choices by means of an independent paper, electronic, audio, video, or pictorial record. Such records would be auditable and would also be available for review in the event of a recount."

In other words, unverifiable touch-screen systems, the kind Bennet, her partner's state of Utah, already uses, and the kind that California's Sec. of State Debra Bowen has already de-certified since they can be easily manipulated such that even a 100% post-election audit would not reveal the hack, will receive the federal thumbs up from Feinstein's legislation.

After all of these months (years?), and despite our repeated attempts to educate her office, Feinstein seems to have apparently learned absolutely nothing about our nation's voting systems. It's astounding.

And if you still can stomach no more, then definitely do not read on about what happened in West Virginia's Wayne County on the very same, failed, shitty, completely worthless ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems during that state's primary election last week...

ES&S FAILS AGAIN IN WAYNE COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA...

Congratulations on your strong stomach.

This from the Herald-Dispatch in West Virginia:

Wayne County Commissioner Rick Wellman has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office claiming that the county's touch-screen voting machines malfunctioned during the primary election.

Several residents have come forward to complain they had difficulty selecting the candidate they wanted to vote for on the touch screen, Wellman said Thursday. He also said in his complaint that he believes unauthorized people accessed some of the voting machines at the polls on election day, which was May 13.
...
J D Prince, who voted at Prichard Elementary School, was one of the five residents who have signed an affidavit. He said he wanted to vote for Tom Jarrell for magistrate, but when he touched Jarrell's name on the screen, candidate Jason Stephens' name popped up. Prince canceled his vote, and the machine worked correctly the second time.

"Had I not noticed the problem, I would have lost my vote," Prince said. "I've got family that vote at Crum Middle School and Dunlow Elementary and they say the same kind of thing happened there, too."

Stephens, who lost his bid to become a Wayne magistrate, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office. He said when he voted on election day, he had to cancel his vote four times in the Board of Education race.

"It wasn't until the fifth time that the machine recorded my vote correctly," he said.

During canvassing this week, the county commission has found several instances in which voters had to cast their ballot multiple times in a race because the voting machines recorded their vote for the wrong candidate, Wellman said. Though only a small number of paper receipts have been checked thus far, the errors appear to be widespread and affect several races, including president, sheriff, magistrate, board of education, commissioner of agriculture, secretary of state and county commission, Wellman said.

There's much more in the original article about voting machines across the county which failed, and had to be "re-calibrated" at the polls on election day. But the most disturbing part is likely found in the last three grafs of the article.

But Wellman's daughter, Marcie Eseli, signed an affidavit claiming she saw a man open a voting machine at the Bison Center while she was voting on election day. The man was accompanied by [Wayne County Clerk Bob] Pasley, Eseli said in her statement.

Pasley said that man was Greg Potter, a former county official who has volunteered in elections for the past 15 years. However, he said it was not Potter who opened the voting machine.

"It was me. I had to recalibrate one of the machines. Greg was standing by me holding tools," Pasley said. "The only thing he does is travel around with me on election day. He'll check to see if paper rolls are low, but that's about it."

Did you get that? The man who admits opening the machine at the polls, on Election Day was Pasley. That's Wayne County Clerk, Bob Pasley.

A close read of the full story reveals earlier that "Pasley defeated longtime County Commissioner Jim Booton 5,476 to 4,504 in the Democratic primary, according to unofficial results."

That's right. Pasley was opening voting machines, at the polls, during the election, on Election Day, in the very same election in which he was on the ballot!

And, incredibly enough, he uses the fact that it was him, not some other guy who was with him, as the reason that nobody should be worried about what happened during that election on Election Day!

Pasley is the same guy who, in an earlier story this week, on the similar ES&S iVotronic problems in both Wayne and Cabell Counties, WV, "said several of the printers jammed, causing certain votes to be counted and digitally saved, but not displayed on the paper receipt...Having a real-time printer attached to the machines just causes more problems than it solves, he said."

"When the paper jams, the votes might not show up on the paper but the votes will still be counted," he told the Herald-Dispatch without presenting any evidence for that claim, before adding with a presumably straight face: "You cannot vote for the wrong person in this voting system."

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