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 #42, 29 Oct 2008 @ 9:38am

    This guy is trained to tout the company line of bull that "there are no problems with these machines." What makes you think he's actually authorized to admit that their machines are broken?

    The fact of the matter is that these machines have serious flaws, and should not be allowed to be used, especially in such a crucial election. Voters should not be expected to have to check and recheck their selections time after time after time. Also, if the machine really did work properly for all of 5 seconds as shown in the video, and then slipped out of calibration again, that means that techs are going to have to reset the calibration after every single use. That is going to be a nightmare of galactic proportions.

    What I don't understand is how these machines can be so flawed. I've seen plenty of touchscreen kiosk machines that work flawlessly (i.e. bridal registries, ATMs, and so on). Why something as serious as voting machines isn't dealt with in the most serious manner possible is beyond me. I think this is just yet another sign that corporate America is corrupt beyond all reason, because they're obviously more interested in preserving their reputation and profits than they are fixing a known problem. I got a news flash for you: quality sells itself. If you acknowledge and fix these problems in a timely manner, your company WILL have a good reputation, and your WILL be profitable. When you just try to sweep dirt like this under the carpet, your reputation will go down no matter what you do. Just admit your mistakes, fix the problems, and life will go on.

    However, I'm still in favor of banning any and all kinds of electronic devices from voting stations. Anybody with half a brain can figure out how to put an X in the box besides thee name of their candidate of choice. If anything, we need some standardization on the paper ballots (no hanging chad crap), not proprietary electronic machines that just make the problems worse.

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