Real winner will never be known, as GOP 'winner' given 89 'vote' edge in disastrous Fairfax County Board of Supervisors race...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2009, 5:28pm PT  

Yet another touch-screen voting machine broke down, in yet another "hotly contested" election, in yet another Democratic-leaning district yesterday. Due to the failure, the actual results are completely unknown, unreliable, and unverifiable, and yet, one candidate (the Republican, as coincidence would have it) has been named the "winner" by 89-votes out of 12,000 cast in the Fairfax County, VA, Board of Supervisors special election.

We are as completely sick of writing these stories by now, as we're sure you are of reading about them, so we'll bury the details below the fold, for those who want the skinny on what happened...You're welcome...

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The culprit machine, here, is the WINVote DRE touch-screen made by Advanced Voting Solutions, a company that recently went out of business after hundreds of failures were found in its systems, and the company refused to correct them.

Nonetheless, the geniuses who run Fairfax County's election decided to use only touch-screen systems in the election yesterday, despite having used both paper ballots and touch-screens in last November's election. The WINVote "is the most widely used touch-screen voting machine in Virginia," according to the Washington Post story in which explanations are given for why the Republican "narrowly defeated" the Democrat by 89 votes.

Officials are "not yet sure what caused the device to malfunction."

WaPo's earlier story --- when the Republican John Cook was said to have been leading the entirely-unverifiable election by 69 votes, before the wholly-unverified and unverifiable "votes" from the failed machine were printed out, one-by-one, and then tallied by officials from the machines memory --- notes that the race came down to the votes cast in the single precinct where the machine failed.

Last November, that same precinct, they report, "supported President Obama with about 57 percent of the vote." The Democratic candidate Ilryong Moon also outspent Cook, and was endorsed by the chairman of the board in the district which is said to be Democratic-leaning.

If he takes the seat --- as it appears he will, since there is no way to verify any of the ballots as having been counted accurately --- Cook would be just the third Republican member on the 10 member Board of Supervisors.

News Channel 8's coverage offered a few more details on the actual machine failure (they call it a "snafu", naturally), in addition to a couple more maddening points:

The polling place only used electronic voting machines for the special election. Before the polls opened, each machine was checked and election chief Philip Scruggs said everything seemed to be operating fine.
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About 20 minutes after the polls closed, Scruggs check the machine and realized the number didn't add up. Election officials came to the site and sealed the machine. "We couldn't get results from the machines. The numbers weren't adding up to what they should be, so we had to make sure the poll book was correct and then get the results from the correct machine and then move forward," said general registrar Rokey Suleman.

After running reports on both machines, the officials found the faulty machine recorded an accurate number of votes, but there was a problem with the final tabulation. Workers printed out every vote recorded on the machine and hand tallied each one.

Of course, there is no way to know that any of those "printed out" votes actually reflect the voters' intent, anymore than it can be known that any vote tabulated in the race is actually what the voters had intended.

And then there's this graf, which reminds us that apparently, the bad guys and their disinformation continues to win the PR battle out there in the world. Of course, those same bad guys had about $3.9 billion tax-payer dollars to spread their message, so it's unlikely a blog that begs for $10 and $20 donations could defeat them entirely. Here's the maddening graf:

Voters are mixed. "I think the electronic equipment these days is pretty good," said Fairfax County resident Julie Stewart. "But paper would be fine if they've got a lot of money and they want to spend the time doing it," said Fairfax County resident Richard Carlson.

Dear Julie: It's not good. It sucks. It's unreliable. And it's a cold sharp knife into the very heart, and hope, of democracy.

Dear Richard: Paper elections are cheaper, more accurate, and take no more "time" to tally than touch-screen elections. And at the end of the day, it's possible to know who actually won them.

Apparently, our work here is never done...

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