E-Voting News and Analysis, from the Experts

Thursday November 04, 2004

Voting machine loses 4500 votes in NC

Filed under: — Wagner @ 6:35 pm PST

A DRE-based voting system lost 4500 votes in one North Carolina counting, because the storage unit did not have capacity to store all of the votes cast on the device. Those votes are irrecoverably lost.

This is intolerable. It is imperative that votes cast be stored in permanent form. No voting technology should allow a voter to cast a vote if it cannot ensure that there is sufficient capacity to store that vote permanently.

Apparently there was supposed to be a warning message that flashes when there is no more room for storing ballots. However, this is not adequate; we all know how easy it is to overlook warning messages. A voting machine should stop accepting votes when it is out of storage capacity.

This is a good argument for some kind of voter-verified audit trail. If the voter was enlisted to check that the vote has been recorded correctly on paper before they left the voting booth, then we wouldn’t have to worry about votes being lost like this – there would always be a permanent paper record that we could refer to in case of software failure.

The good news is that hopefully this kind of problem will be easy to fix. Technology trends are rapidly reducing the cost of storage. There will be a day when there is no excuse for running out of storage, because every machine can be shipped with far more storage than it is ever likely to need. Nonetheless, in the meantime, it is important that any machine as critical as a voting device handle “out of storage” and other unexpected error conditions gracefully.


Analysis of e-voting vs. optical scan in Florida

Filed under: — Joseph Lorenzo Hall @ 4:17 pm PST

Charlie Strauss of Verified Voting New Mexico has has analyzed data from Florida (provided by Kathy Dopp from FL officials). Some interesting trends seem to appear… I’m not sure I fully understand this yet. Maybe someone with more time on their hands can examine this critically and post comments.:

TREND 1: optical scan shows much less predictable voting trends than e-voting

  1. Both parties show greater party defection on optical scan than e-voting
  2. Of the two democrats show slightly more of this discrepancy
  3. The large discrepancies from the trend line hurt Democrats just slightly more often than Republicans but this may not be statistically significant.

TREND 2: The smaller the precinct the greater the party defection

  1. There is very strong effect of the smaller the precinct the more voters crossing over to Republican. This vanishes in large precincts.
  2. [In] every case the trend favored the Republican party.

A lawgeek in Oakland, CA mans a battery of Diebold machines

Filed under: — Joseph Lorenzo Hall @ 10:37 am PST

Brian Carver, a law student at Boalt, was a poll inspector in Oakland, CA (Alameda County) and has a long and comprehensive write-up of his 16-hour day manning a battery of 5 Diebold AccuVote-TS machines. Here’s a bulleted summary:

  • The training of poll workers is inadequate.
  • The voting machines face numerous security and technical problems.
  • About 15% of my voters refused to vote on a machine without a paper trail.
  • Most of those voters were also extremely angry that their only alternative to the machines was a “provisional paper ballot". There were numerous heated arguments about the word ‘provisional’. People do not want a provisional paper ballot that may or may not be counted and that will not be counted right away. They want a “true paper ballot” that always counts and that is counted on election day.
  • Absentee voters (and perhaps election officials) do not understand the rules for absentee voting.
  • Being a poll worker is extremely stressful and exhausting and you should fall down and worship the poll workers at each and every election you vote in from now on.
  • My view now is that the best election system is the simplest election system. In every single aspect of the election the paramount question should be: is there a simpler way to do this?

Exit Poll Data on Confidence in Vote Counting

Filed under: — Felten @ 7:12 am PST

Exit pollsters asked Americans leaving the polls whether they were confident that the votes would be counted accurately. Here are the results, omitting those who expressed no answer. Note that voters answered these questions as they left the polls, before they knew anything about the election result.

Category % Confident in Accuracy
All voters 91%
Bush voters 95%
Kerry voters 87%

Very few Nader voters were confident in vote-counting accuracy, but an accurate percentage is not available due to roundoff error in the available data.

(Based on raw data from CNN.)

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