Guy Who Insists E-Voting Machines Work Fine... Demonstrates They Don't

from the say-that-again-please dept

If someone pitched a movie based on e-voting machines that work as bad as the ones being used in the current election, the story would be dumped as being unrealistic. But truth is, indeed, often stranger than fiction. You may recall on Friday that we had a post about problems with e-voting machines in West Virginia selecting the wrong candidate when voters touched the screen. Various officials rushed to insist that there was absolutely nothing wrong. One, the local county clerk, Jeff Waybright insisted that the problems were "the result of voter error."

Well, it appears that a group called Video The Vote went and visited with Mr. Waybright as he showed them how the e-voting machines work, and perhaps the "human error" is on Mr. Waybright's part. The beginning of the video is troubling enough, as he brushes aside concerns while he shows a miscalibrated machine. He demonstrates how he clicks on one candidate and another is highlighted, in a tone of voice that suggests why would anyone possibly be upset or annoyed if that happened? He then oddly thinks the fact that his wildly miscalibrated machine enhances his point because when he clicks on Barack Obama's name, the actual name highlighted isn't McCain (of course, it's not Obama either, but he doesn't seem troubled by this). Waybright seems to think that the only complaint people are making is the fact that some tried to vote for the Democratic ticket and saw the Republican ticket show up -- when the real concern is simply the fact that when you touch one name, someone else's name is highlighted. Democrat or Republican really isn't the issue here.

However, then things get worse. After mocking the idea that anyone clicking on a Democratic ticket vote would get the Republican ticket vote, he shows how to correctly calibrate the machine, showing how easy it is to fix the "problems" of the miscalibrated machine. When he's done, to prove it works, he touches the box to vote for a straight Republican ticket ticket... and, wouldn't you know it, Ralph Nader's name is highlighted as the voter's choice. His response? "Oh, that's out of calibration!" as if it was no big deal, apparently missing the fact that he had just calibrated the machine. He then seems to think none of this is a big deal, because voters will see the misvote before they submit it, apparently unaware of the idea that many people are already quite distrustful of these machines, and seeing them highlight the wrong name over and over again will make them seriously question the legitimacy of the election.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: paper Trail required

    "In theory. In reality, all we hear about are e-voting machine problems. They seem quite common."

    There is no theory here. State and Federal regulations only allow so many errors to e-voting technologies. What your hearing are cooked up conspiracy theories. Not hard facts on how technologies are not passing certification. I will admit there are cases of human error. If certification procedures are followed as intended there should be no issue. Do you some states have poor certification procedures? You could argue that yeah. But that is a human issue. Not a mechanical one.

    "This would be the same "certification" that was later shown to have not involved any actual investigation of the machine?"

    You are focusing on human error Mike. Not malfunctioning equipment. Its important to distinguish the difference. Certification procedures vary from state to state. The human error involves not testing equipment properly not a mechanical malfunction.

    "I don't understand this statement. We are pointing out serious problems with the machines, and you claim they're ready for use?!?"

    Come on Mike, You are generalizing everything into some kind of consipriacy theory. Your title to the story is "A Guy who insists E-voting machines work fine.. Demonstrates they dont". While there are obvious flaws in that specific device in the video. The only thing the video showed was someone having trouble with the calibration process of one piece of DRE technology. Based off of this video you are implying in your title every type of E-voting is flawed. I think last week you had a problem with backup. It would be the same if someone said, 'Dont Blog on Techdirt! They have a major issue with backup.. Just look at this story!!... Would that be accurate?

    We currently are using optical scanned paper ballots in my state and I am 100% fine with it.

    By stating, "We are pointing out serious problems with the machines." I feel you really are not fully looking at this issue close enough to make any kind of informed decision it.

    "No one has said that paper is perfect. But the damage that can be done from a bad e-voting system is much worse, because a single error can totally change the results of an election. A single paper ballot error effects a single ballot."

    Just look at the Gore Bush election. Almost every ballot was disputed in some way. Almost all of that was on paper. You are only looking at a cooked up worst case scenario. Not a realistic depiction on how these machines perform. Excuse if I dont buy the, Chicken little says the sky is falling arguement.

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