Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DOJ probes Diebold sale, Voting Hiccups, glitches, snags, and snafus cont'd

Justice Department Probing Diebold Sale, timing of sale is also of interest...
Brad Friedman reports "Your Election Night 2009 'Hiccups' 'Glitches' 'Snags' and 'Snafus' Report"...Today's voting news report covers election problems in California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia...

Bay County Florida resolves to ask lawmakers for money for voting machines for disabled while SoS sits on HAVA funds....Virginia’s Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL?!?! Internet voting whack-a-mole in Port Hope, Ontario....

...Election method flux: Aspen Colorado voters voted to reconsider instant runoff by very slim margin, St Paul MN voters voted to adopt instant runoff voting but opponents have filed election complaints, Lowell MA voted not to adopt proportional voting, and Pierce County Washington overwhelmingly voted to repeal instant runoff voting...

All of that and more in today's Voting News below and lots more tomorrow I promise...

CA: Because of mailer problem, Atwater will have new school board election* (voter guides, missing ballot boxes, incomplete poll books)
Confusion over a new boundary line in the Atwater Elementary School District means that voters in the only contested race there may have to recast their ballots.

But 29 homes with eligible voters didn't get proper voter guides before the election, said Karen Adams, county registrar of voters.
At 6:15 a.m., polling places in Gustine, Delhi and Livingston reported that they were each short one ballot box. Election workers delivered the missing ballot boxes by 7 a.m.

A precinct in Snelling was missing two pages of its eligible voters roster and four election computers in Merced, Delhi and Le Grand were fixed after minor problems kept them from working properly earlier in the day.

Another ballot problem in the Franklin precinct -- near Beachwood Drive and Santa Fe -- affected some voters in the Merced Union High School District race there. The precinct had no copies of a certain ballot type.

The error was the result of a mistake by the ballot printer and packager, Adams said. New ballots arrived at the polling place after a 25-minute delay.

CO: Aspen rejects Instant Runoff Voting — by six votes
Council will explore alternative voting methods for elections
...Aspen residents voted 805-799 to eliminate ranking City Council and
mayoral candidates by preference on the municipal election ballot, which
replaced the traditional June runoff.

The city of Aspen launched its first-ever IRV election this past May.
Shortly thereafter, doubts among elected officials and some residents
surfaced as to whether the method was the best way to elect a mayor and
City Council members.

FL: Voting Machine Issues
The Bay County Commission unanimously backed a resolution asking the state legislature for an extension on new voting machine requirements. According to Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen, a new legislative mandate requires another overhaul in election equipment.

Every touch-screen would have to replaced with a paper ballot scanning system, called AutoMark. Andersen says that shift would cost the county almost half a million dollars. But, some commissioners say they want more time to discuss the issue with legislators

GA: Memory cards forgotten in 7 Ga. voting machines *
...Garner says the poll workers were in a hurry and didn't ensure that all the cards were removed from the machines. He called the oversight unacceptable and said procedures would be put in place to make sure it doesn't occur again.

GA: Registered voters rejected in Atlanta mayor's race * (faulty voter reg database)
About a dozen voters in southwest Fulton County complained they couldn’t vote because their addresses were not in the county election registration system, said Fulton County election official Mark Henderson, who confirmed the glitch Tuesday afternoon.
“My address has too many letters for me to put on the Georgia Department of Driver Services form,” said an angry Moore. “So I get my tax bill, but I can’t vote? I’m not going to pay my taxes if I can’t vote. Now you know why people don’t vote.”
“Right now, we’re just trying to figure this out,” he said. He could not provide the number of voters who may be at addresses in the newly annexed part of the city that are not recognized as city of Atlanta by the election board computers and therefore can’t vote.

GA: Atlanta Election: Minute by Minute *
9:17: A statement from Fulton County Government explains why four precincts in Fulton County used paper ballots for one race from 7-8 p.m.: "The State Election Board instructed Fulton County’s Department of Registration and Elections to use provisional ballots for Atlanta voters who cast their ballots in the State Senate District 35 election between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

GA: Paper ballots used in Ocilla
Nov 04, 2009... "That's the only way we've ever done it is paper ballots," said Alicia Roberts, Ocilla City clerk.
And with only around 1,500 registered voters, voting officials say voting this way is easier than fooling with machines.

MA: Incumbents Kazanjian, Armand Mercier and Faticanti ousted in Lowell
11/04/2009... The vote to change the election process to proportional voting went down in flames, as it failed to garner the necessary third of the registered voters to come out and back the measure. Of those who did vote on the measure, 6,841 voted against, and 5,174 voted yes.

MA: Voting machine malfunctions after power surge *
QUINCY — A power surge at Covenant Congregational Church caused a voting machine to malfunction about 5 p.m. Tuesday as voters were still filing into the Ward 3, Precinct 1 polling station.

City Clerk Joseph Shea said the city quickly replaced the machine and continued with business as usual, and no votes were lost.

MI: Votes still counted from Flushing Township precinct where electronic voting cards got damaged *
...But members learned that in Flushing Township — where a recall effort against four board members failed — electronic cards recording votes from precinct 1 were damaged.

A report of votes from the precinct was printed before the cards got damaged and matched the township’s poll books. The votes were entered manually instead.

MN: Minneapolis IRV ballots: Few spoiled, few cast
Minneapolis’ first try at instant-runoff voting (IRV) Tuesday went well, judging by a low number of spoiled ballots. But the number of ballots cast was also low, spoiling the system’s otherwise successful debut.

MN: Instant-runoff voting foes vow to overturn ballot result
11/4/09 St. Paul voters narrowly chose to adopt instant-runoff voting on Tuesday. But opponents of the ballot measure plan to challenge the validity of the result.

In the waning days of the campaign, the No Bad Ballots Committee filed a pair of grievances with the Office of Administrative Hearings charging that IRV supporters were using false claims to bolster their electoral prospects. Specifically, the group took issue with claims that the DFL party, the St. Paul League of Women Voters and President Obama, among others, supported the adoption of instant-runoff voting.

“They knew they were going to lose if they didn’t deceive the voters of St. Paul,” says Chuck Repke, co-chair of the No Bad Ballots Committee.

NC: Election Update: Check your CHECK MARK!* (ES&S iVotronic with RTAL)
November 3, 2009 I clearly punched the box for Bill Knight for mayor. The check popped up on Yvonne Johnson’s name. I called for the precinct worker and he explained how to correct. I contacted the BOE and they stated they have heard similar reports today and it was related to machine calibration. If you’re paying attention you would catch this error before casting ballot.

NY: Sheriff's race loser: Ballot was bad * (ballot slips misplaced - lever machines)
...Jason Longton said Wednesday he was troubled that election commissioners had not contacted him to tell him about the problem. A voter reported Tuesday that Longton's name appeared under the ballot line for Saratoga Springs mayor, instead of appearing under the county sheriff line as it should have.
Saratoga County Republican Elections Commissioner Diane Wade, responding to Longton's complaint, said election officials moved immediately to address the issue once it was raised.
Emergency paper ballots were given to voters in the district until the ballot box was fixed, she said.

NY: Glitches With New Voting Machines *
Broome County...In fact, district three has had some glitches with ballots all morning.

The district chair says the new machine is so sensitive it picks up defects in the paper, rejecting the ballot.

"And so because it picks up the defects, it doesn't pick up what people are voting for, and we have to void it and give them another paper," said Sweeney.

And it happened 16 times.

NY: Glitches with voting machines cause problems in Cayuga County *
November 04, 2009 Auburn, NY...The county experienced problems to varying degrees in several locations, including a machine that crashed at least twice in Fleming, printing on ballots that was smudged or had problems with toner that some sensitive voting machines wouldn’t read, and voter error, Democratic Elections Commissioner Katie Lacey said this morning.

“The machines weren’t all equally sensitive to the same problem,” she said. “We had ballots that would go in one machine and be rejected two or three or four times, and then you could take the same ballot to another machine and it would go right through.”

NY: Madison County Voting Machines Impounded
Supervisor, council races in Brookfield, Cazenovia, Lebanon, and Sullivan may hang in the balance
Now local Madison County Board of Elections staff will have to wait until lawyers arrive before the results in those precincts will be known. The Bill Owens campaign (23rd U.S. Congressional District race) hired attorneys to file an injunction to keep anyone from touching the ballots, machines, or canvass sheets until legal representatives can be on hand to witness any interaction with the equipment or documents.

NY: Fulton County machines break; court order issued *
Fulton County (WSYR-TV) – NewsChannel 9 has learned voting machines in Fulton County, which is a part of the 23rd Congressional District, have been impounded, after the machines were not working property today, the Fulton County Board of Elections confirms.

The county was forced to switch over to paper ballots.

NY: Voting machine malfunction in Fulton County *
...An election official there told Teresa Priolo some marked ballots wouldn't scan yesterday.
That election official told Teresa there are about 6500 total voters in the 11 affected districts -- all of whom are in the towns of Bleeker, Broadalbin, North Hampton and Oppenheim.

NY: Erie County. No major problems with new machines *(paper jams)
Ward said the largest number of calls that came in to election headquarters from poll workers were due to one of two plugs not being connected. There were also a number of calls for what Ward believed to be a higher number of poll workers than usual — four are expected in each election district — who fell ill.
The most common problem with machines in operation had to do with ballots getting jammed in the optical scanning machine, he said.
Mohr said three machines that had jammed were replaced as a precautionary measure to make sure they would be functioning at peak hours. Two of the machines were in West Seneca, and the third was in Lancaster, he said.

NY: Glitches may delay vote reporting in four St. Lawrence Co. towns *
NOVEMBER 3, 2009 St. Lawrence County Board of Elections officials said this evening that machine breakdowns earlier today may prevent them from having election results tonight in Louisville, Waddington, Rossie and Clare.

St. Lawrence County Board of Elections Deputy Commissioner Thomas Nichols said the new election machines had scanner malfunctions in some communities earlier today.

OH: Struggling Ohio opens doors to casinos
Voting went smoothly statewide except for a glitch in Summit County, which includes Akron. The county ran out of ballots around 5 p.m. and had to turn away some voters. Poll workers contacted them and asked them to return after printing more ballots.

OH: Voter turnout excedes expectations, causes problems at some locations * (not enough voting machines and bad poll books)
...Elections board workers had set up 541 voting machines around the county, but seven polling places ended up needing more machines to keep up with voter demand, he said. That prompted elections workers to take another 18 machines out to those polling places to ease long lines, he said.
At one polling place in Avon, Candelario said, people were waiting as long as 45 minutes to cast their ballots. Similar problems occurred at other polling locations around the county, including in Grafton and Elyria, he said.
Another problem, he said, was misprinted signature books that contained information from the 2008 election.
Throughout the county there were seven bad books, some containing only a few pages of old information. In other cases, an entire book contained outdated data, Candelario said.
...When there was a problem with a book, affected voters had to cast provisional ballots, Candelario said.

OH: Voter Turnout 'Steady' In Hamilton County Election *(candidates names omitted) 11/03 ...Hamilton County voting appeared to go smoothly, except for one snafu in one Fairfax precinct. The three candidates for Columbia Township Trustee were mistakenly left off the ballot.
Board of Elections officials were immediately contacted and new ballots were printed and delivered by 10:00 a.m. The next task was finding people who voted an absentee ballot or voted Tuesday before the problem was discovered.

OH: Ballot Blunder Snuffs Fairfax Voters' Voices *
124 Can't Vote In Columbia Twp. Trustees Race
...The board of elections decided to count only the ballots already cast in other areas instead of voting again to include the Fairfax residents

PA: ELECTION '09: Snafu inflates county vote totals *
Indiana County. November 4 ...Voters were given two paper ballots to complete on Tuesday, and the optical-scanning system apparently counted each piece of paper as one voter, courthouse workers theorized.That could explain the unusually high turnout numbers across the county, but it doesn't account for a report of 642 ballots cast by 237 registered voters at Cherryhill 1. Even full turnout would have been just 474 pieces of paper.

While election workers try to figure that one out, the quick math here shows 33,000 ballots may actually have been cast by 16,500 voters, representing a 28.7 percent turnout.

VA: Virginia’s Elections Are UNCONSTITUTIONAL?!?!
... Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution of Virginia states, “Voting shall be by ballot or by machines for receiving, recording, and counting votes cast.” But it also states, “Secrecy in casting votes shall be maintained, except as provision may be made for assistance to handicapped voters, but the ballot box or voting machine shall be kept in public view and shall not be opened, nor the ballots canvassed nor the votes counted, in secret.”...

VA: Voting machine knocked out after five votes in Staunton's Ward 5 * (voting machine)
After just five votes, a voting machine in Ward 5 had to be shut down earlier today because of a malfunction, but Chief Officer Joe Baugher said the snafu only caused a few minor voting delays.
"We were told to shut it down," Baugher said. Two machines were left to carry the load.

VA: Election Day SNAFU Addressed * (polling place access)
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Virginia Department of Transportation paving on Route 15 and Loudoun County Public Schools in service training disrupt early morning voting at Smart's Mill Middle School in Leesburg.
the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) was paving Route 15 and creating traffic backups; and then LCPS was conducting in-service training for school bus drivers.
The combination of these two activities compromised voters’ ability to access the school, and once on school property, to find a place to park in order to go inside and vote.

WA: Voters changing their minds on ranked-choice
Ranked-choice voting, Charter amendments (Pierce County)

WA: Majority of Pierce County voters reject Instant Runoff Voting on Nov 3
Instant runoff voting was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Pierce County Washington Voters. 44,145 of 64,106 voters said yes to ditching instant runoff voting, also called ranked choice voting. That is 71.76% for eliminating IRV and 28.24% who wanted to keep IRV.


BradBlog: Your Election Night 2009 'Hiccups' 'Glitches' 'Snags' and 'Snafus' Report... As we always find necessary to remind readers on such nights, the bulk of election failures tend to reveal themselves in the hours and days --- and sometimes even weeks --- after Election Day.

With that in mind, of the most potential note that we've seen so far today --- though mostly downplayed as minor "glitches" in most of the stories reporting them --- we've found reports of: Diebold touch-screen machine failure in OH's Montgomery and Greene Counties; new e-pollbooks failing in Suffolk County, NY; new Sequoia/Dominion optical-scan systems failing in St. Lawrence County, NY, and; Sequoia touch-screen failures in Essex, Somerset and Goucester Counties, NJ.

Justice Department Probing Diebold Sale
November 3rd, 2009 The Justice Department is investigating the controversial sale of a Diebold Incorporated unit that makes voting machines to its larger competitor, Election Systems and Software, according to two people familiar with the matter
The $5 million sale also raised eyebrows for the firms’ public relations strategy. The companies waited until the deal had closed to make a formal announcement, and sidestepped federal antitrust reporting requirements that require the parties of a transaction that meets a threshold size to alert the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission of their intentions, then wait 30 days to proceed.


Port Hope council debates Internet voting for 2010 election
How the costs break down for the 13,903 eligible voters
Option A - repeat the 2006 election program. Cost - $82,650. Cost per eligible voter - $5.95.
Option B - the 2006 election program with a new internet voting option. Cost - $121,820. Cost per eligible voter - $8.77.
Option C - the past election program plus internet voting for the 2010 and 2014 election, paid over five years. Cost - $170,990. Cost per eligible voter - $6.15 (when divided over the two elections).

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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