Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Touch-Screen Machine Poll-utes Votes In PA

Via l'Enfant de la Haute Mer in comments, in Pennsylvania, as Pam Spaulding tells us, a touch-screen voting machine reproducibly highlighted Romney when a voter selected Obama. Being a software developer, he experimented, tapping the buttons in small vertical increments, and found out that the entire area of the Romney button, plus the entire area of the Obama button, again reproducibly selected Romney. Only one small sliver between the two buttons actually caused Obama to be selected. The voter took a cell phone video documenting the phenomenon.

It gets worse. The voter asked the voters on either side of him, and found they had no problems. He then called over a volunteer assistant, who hemmed and hawed, then said something like "Don't worry. Everything will be all right..." and walked away, declining to do more.

Later in the day, that particular machine was pulled from service. How many are there like it in the field? How many states, how many polls, how many votes, are poll‑uted by this kind of tampering?

Jeebus Christ on a crutch in a crap-heap! If the voting machines really are... right now, today... tampering with our votes as we speak, what is there left to call "democracy"?

Harris County's voting machines may still be rigged, but if so, they are more subtle about it. For one thing, they do not have touch screens, but rather fingertip dials that move the selection bar, with a sort of Enter key that selects the currently highlighted candidate. For another, the selection in a race is visible for the entire time that ballot page is visible, and is again displayed for you in a list of your votes in every race at the end of the ballot; at any point, you may go back to earlier pages and change or verify your votes. As I said, this is not total security; such machines are, for example, still vulnerable to the "man-in-the-middle" approach described earlier in the post about Ohio. But at least a few hacks are precluded.

Users of e-voting systems: did you vote for Obama? did you merely THINK you voted for Obama? You'll probably never know.

There should be a "Boston voting machine party" in which these machines are all sent straight to the bottom of the ocean, after which actual voting is returned to paper ballots with a strict chain of custody both before and after they are marked. Yes, there are still ways to cheat on paper ballots, but it can be made much harder than it is with e-voting equipment.

It's 4:09 PM CST... where is YOUR vote?


  1. Top Ten Coming Disasters: Romney’s America 2016:

  2. Voters Take to Social Media to Report Massive Vote Fraud


  3. If for no other reason, this is why you need to vote.


    1. Enfant, thanks for the links; I'm finally getting to them this morning.

      There was a time when a typical white Southerner would say what Britt D. said without hesitation: derogation of an entire race of human beings was an expression as natural as breathing in the South. Even in my lifetime, I've heard the n-word spoken in conversation hundreds of times. But over the course of the 20th century, residents of the former Confederacy, at least many of them, learned how deeply and unjustly disrespectful it is to call someone a racial epithet... and the n-word's frequency of use began to decline. From a world in which the great Josephine Baker felt compelled to move to France to meet with the basic human respect she deserved, we've come to a point at which our military was racially desegregated (mostly Truman's decision), our educational institutions were desegregated (my class at Rice University, 1966-1971, was only the second wholly racially integrated class) and many other social institutions broadened their acceptance of races other than whites, sexes other than male, sexual orientation other than straight, etc. And eventually now we have an African American president. One can only properly appreciate how remarkable that is by viewing it in the perspective of our history.

      But we started with a huge handicap. I remember a neighbor from my childhood who was utterly convinced that he was better than any African American person for no reason other than his skin. We have traveled a difficult road, and the road ahead is no walk in the park. From Richard Nixon forward, the GOP has pursued a "Southern strategy" of driving a wedge between people of different ethnicities as a means of obtaining for their party a larger share of the white vote. That legacy is never really going to go away. Countries that are not multi-ethnic do not always understand the deep-grained nature of our challenge. It is the thing that most separates us from our theoretical principles. It may be the thing that destroys us; I don't know. Hope for the best; expect and demand something other than the very worst... it's what we can do as individuals, in hopes one day we have a better society.



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