E-Voting News and Analysis, from the Experts

Tuesday November 02, 2004

Drudge: Funny Business in Philadelphia

Filed under: — Felten @ 10:01 am UTC

The Drudge Report is saying that some voting machines in Philadelphia were found to have votes pre-planted on them before the polls opened. Drudge did not say whether the machines in question are electronic, but EFF documents say that Philadelphia Country uses Danaher/Shouptronic electronic machines.

(This should be treated with the usual skepticism afforded Drudge stories. But I thought readers might be interested to hear it anyway.)

UPDATE (2:15 PM): As Adam notes in a later entry, this incident now looks like a misunderstanding of the machines by some poll workers, rather than a plot to steal votes.


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  1. Philadelphia uses very old mechanical voting machines.

    From what I have read elsewhere the machines have a car style odometer which counts the _total_ number of votes on the machine _ever_ and a seperate counter like a “trip odometer” which gets reset before each election.

    Drudge’s sources could have been reporting either the total odometer or the number from the primaries which hadn’t been zeroed out yet. (but should have been before the election started)

    Comment by Ethan Sommer — Tuesday November 02, 2004 @ 2:23 pm UTC

  2. As far as we can tell, these reports were bogus… they were based on the “public counters” in the machine. That is, there is a counter (like an odometer) that counts how many votes have been cast on a machine since its construction. This will always read non-zero unless it is the very first use of the machine (which should be during logic and accuracy testing). We could really use some digital images of zero tapes from PN, NJ…

    Comment by joe — Tuesday November 02, 2004 @ 2:33 pm UTC

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