California E-Voting Machines Let You Vote Early And Often

from the whoo-hoo dept

At what point do we wake up from this e-voting story nightmare and have someone reassure us it was only a dream? Every day, there’s yet another story about how badly screwed up these machines are. Today, we’ve got a treat, as it’s not actually about Diebold, but their competitor, Sequoia Voting Systems. It turns out that on the back of some of their machines used in California, there’s a little yellow button. If you push it, you can vote multiple times by switching the machine to “manual” mode. In true geek fashion, Sequoia has responded with (I kid you not) their own version of “that’s not a bug, that’s a feature!” They claim it’s “deliberate back-up feature to prevent the Edge from having a single point of failure.” Hey, preventing single points of failure are great, but when they introduce a totally different point of failure, that’s not so good. But, according to the company, this is the type of “flexibility” they’ve always provided. I didn’t realize that “flexibility” was something desired in an e-voting system. Generally, you’d think people would prefer them to be pretty rigid, but to work right — and not allow multiple votes. Sequoia claims that use of this feature emits a loud beeping noise, and they’ll train poll workers to listen for that — but that doesn’t seem like the most reliable methods. We’ve heard so many stories of confused and technology illiterate voting officials that it’s hard to believe they’ll remember this or know what to do if it happens. The company says it will address the issue after next week’s election — but that any district using them can choose to simply turn off this “feature.” So, if you’re voting in California and you have an AVC Edge e-voting machine from Sequoia, and you have a bit of moral flexibility, apparently you can support your favorite candidate just that much more.

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Comments on “California E-Voting Machines Let You Vote Early And Often”

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noto says:

why there isnt more outrage, concern, and media coverage of the farce that voting has become, is beyond me. democracy and elections are a huge part of the reason this country exists as it does today. it could be said its the basis of the country itself, and yet, here we are 6 years after the florida debacle and nobody is uttering a word of concern in the MSM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Why thiere isn’t more outrage, concern, and media coverage…

Because the U.S. media is a big business propaganda machine. It’s pretty obvious considering all the threats and indictments to journalists for not giving up their sources lately.

Most American’s get their daily news from the big media outlets via television – look at Fox News and try and say with a straight face their NOT right-wing biased.

Outrage will happen when the majority are shown by those in the know what exactly has been going on. Talk it up. Create political arguments that get attention. That’s how people get informed and become motivated to learn more about what they don’t know.

This Just In says:

This Just In

Um, so let’s play a semantic game:

What does “vote multiple times” mean?

a. You can vote 10 times and there are 10 votes counted

b. You can vote 10 times and 1 vote is counted

Dingbats, if you actually read the literature about the equipment each vote is associated with A Single Voter. This means that A Single Voter is only counted once, regardless of the number of times they vote. You have to insert a card that is assigned to you and only you.


Thanks for listening.

Robert says:

Invader Zim comment

I don’t know why but this brings to mind a few Invader Zim quotes used to mock these types of situations.

Zim: I put the fires out.
Tallest Red: You made them worse!
Zim: Worse… or better?

Zim: Is it supposed to be stupid?
Tallest Purple: [sarcastic] It’s not stupid, it’s advaaanced!

Might be a little off subject, but it makes sense to me.

Roy L. Hampton says:


@This Just In, @Evil_Bastard

There is no conspiracy “theory”. Just conspiracy.

Did either of you read? It clearly says that the “Feature” that the yellow button provides is to override the requirement of needing a card. So that in case a valid users card fails, a polling volunteer can override the machine and still allow the voter to cast his/her vote.

I’m sure this won’t be abused by anyone. Just like I’m sure the Diebold system is error free as well. 1 out of 10 votes for democrats get counted as republican. No conspiracy there either I’m sure right? Just simple math errors on the part of the computer?

Nice partisan politics though…just replace any real issues with blind faith. Ah it must be nice to live in your heads.

Michael Hickins says:

Re: vote fraud

It so happens that the Republican-controlled EAC commission commissioned a report on so-called voter fraud, which they are using as an excuse to insist on restrictive voter-ID measures in order to continue a pattern of intimidating African American (Democratic) voters.
It turns out that the report showed NO voter fraud. No extensive dead voters. Guess what? The EAC’s chairman, Paul Degregorio, suppressed the report. Nevertheless, the report was leaked. Voter fraud? Get a life.

ebrke says:

Re: Re:

While I am really unhappy about the problem of illegal aliens in the U.S., I also seriously doubt that a significant number of them attempt to vote fraudulently. Most seem to want nothing more than to stay under the radar–identifying themselves to county authorities in order to register to vote would be about the last thing they would want to do.

John Barnstrom says:

No so easy

Simply pressing the yellow button will get you nowhere!

As usual, there’s more to it than the media is reporting, in it’s typically lazy and irresponsible fashion. There are a sequence of steps, which I won’t detail here, that must be taken to put the machine into manual mode. The yellow button is involved, but that’s only the beginning. And once the machine is in manual mode, (in most cases), the prospective felon would then have to know the appropriate and often cryptic code to enter using the onscreen keyboard, the presence of which on the screen would be quite noticable to anyone else in the room. And I do mean, “prospective felon”, since doing this would constitute the commission of a felony punishable by prison sentence. So, why on earth would anyone risk prison time in order to vote two or three extra times, which is probably the most you’d get in before one of the pollworkers noticed and called 911?

People… do some homework before you cook up your conspiracy theories and insult all the hardworking people who spend months preparing your elections for you.

Try thanking them, instead.

BSG Guy says:

Re: No so easy

A cryptic code, like a default router passcode, right? Like “password” or “master” or “Linksys”, right? 🙂

I don’t believe the risk you describe, someone walking off the street on Nov 7 and toying with a machine in plain sight, is the real one. The real one is some one with less scruples manipulating things behind the scene either early that morning or after the poles close. There are more potential points of failure than just the machines themselves; anywhere along the line until the votes get their final tally (where ever that actually occurs) is vulnerable.

Am I the only one that thinks Admiral Adama from Battlestar Galactica is more than just an awesome fictional commander? Todays “cylon” is any individual with knowledge of electronics that wants to do harm, and just like the colonial fleet, any piece of electronics, especially on any kind of network, is vulnerable. Paper, on the other hand, is slightly more difficult to manipulate. Not impossible, but simply more difficult.

On a side note, this is also why I don’t believe full desktops will ever be truely replaced (except for on budget/low end systems) by mere monitors and peripherals that connect to, store, and access apps on some distant net-based server over broadband. Too vulnerable, insecure, and utterly useless if troubles arise in the network.

Kemble K. Pope (user link) says:

Veek the Vote

I am writing to enlist your help in spreading the word about Veek the Vote 2006 (, a project that enables people to use the cameras in their mobile phones to express themselves and document Election Day in near real-time.

Veek The Vote represents something wholly new in the history of election coverage. Anyone with a mobile phone equipped with a camera-—there are over 70 million of them in the U.S.–can send a photo or video to No registration is requried. No special software is needed.

Fifteen to sixty seconds after a photo or video is sent, it will appear in a embedded player at This player, in turn, can be taken by anyone and embedded anywhere on the web: on blogs, MySpace pages, etc. Veek the Vote generates a completely open mobile video communication network, enabling complete democratization of election coverage. We take in video from anyone, and allow anyone to display it on their website.

We’re very excited about the prospects for Veek the Vote. It empowers Americans to be more than a statistic captured by exit polls on Election Day. Whether they’re taking to the streets in protest, waiting patiently (or impatiently) in line at the polls, or stuck behind a desk, Veek the Vote 2006 lets America show and see Election Day in a way never before possible.

Any help that you all might be able to give in helping us get this story out would be very much appreciated. The more people that know about Veek the Vote, the more powerful it will be.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

lil'bit says:

I imagine that there has always been a certain amount of voter fraud in pockets of the US, and I suspect it has been primarily used to subvert local and state politics. But I agree with ebrrke – it’s difficult to believe that illegal immigrants are going to put themselves out there where they can be noticed by law enforcement.

From what I understand, much of the push for ID cards, etc – all primarily effecting poeple who are more likely to vote democrat, is the republican response to motor-voter laws passed in the 90s, making it easier for people to register. Without presenting any evidence to back their accusations, many politicians, again mostly republican but not all, blame those motor voter laws with an increase in voter fraud.

Frankly, prior to the 2000 election, it never seemed to be a big concern, outside of places like Chicago, where everyone “knew” the dead voted. But then, prior to the 2004 election, exit polls were deemed to be so accurate, they were used to identify election fraud. So it seems really bizarre that after Nov 2004, the pollsters of such great accuracy were left trying to explain how the polls were mistaken (people leaving the polls lied on purpose just to mess up the exit poll)

Election Judge says:

The button is in the back of the machine. When placed in manual mode an election judge has to push the button after each voter. The election judge will also know the machine is in manual mode and so watch it so people cant reach and behind and in a lower indented area of the machine. It is physically impossible to stand in front of it and push this button.
Secondly, the machine has a paper trail and counts the number of voters. Each voter is counted as they come in and apply to vote. The numbers must match.

There is no fool proof way of voting. None. There is a way to cheat. Thats why there are election judges and mesures in place to make sure things add up. When they dont things need to be looked into.
But and this is important. Pointing out what “could” happen is not the same as what may or will happen.

An example.
Paper ballots.
Its possible that someone could go to a printer, have them print up thousands of ballots. Sneak in and stuff the ballot box.

Could it happen? Yes. But will it happen when the ballot box is inspected before the polls open and a judge sits at it untill the polls close? No.

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