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My Diebold OpScan ballot is FOLDED and guess where the fold is!?!

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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:23 PM
Original message
My Diebold OpScan ballot is FOLDED and guess where the fold is!?!
I requested an absentee ballot here in Vermont and I'm filling it out now. I noticed it's folded in thirds to fit in the envelope. And get this, the oval I have to fill in for Obama is about one millimeter from the crease. I don't know about Diebold specifically but I know folds cause problems with scanners. Just think about the last time you tried to feed a dollar bill into a change machine. A fold in the bill is a big problem.

Has anyone heard of any problems or higher error rates on folded ballots being fed into the Diebold Accuvote OS?

I have to fold it again to send it back. I think I might just stop in and drop it off. If I can feed it in to the scanner my self I can see the ballot registered but I still won't be able to tell if my vote for President registered.

I imagine that virtually everyone voting absentee in Vermont has a fold in their ballots in the same place.


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glinda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
1. REPORT IT
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. I just tried at 866-OUR-VOTE and it was so busy there i had to leave a message.
not a good sign.
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eowyn_of_rohan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Interesting they didn't send you a paper ballot for absentee voting
We use Opscan here too (wis). When I voted absentee they sent a different, paper ballot. I would be a suspicious as you are, and hope this causes no problems for you or your fellow Vermontites!!
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. it is paper...
it's the exact same paper ballot you get when you walk in to vote
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eowyn_of_rohan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
17. I meant NON OpScan, paper, all filled out by hand
not electronically scanned.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. People in Alaska were worried about this same issue,
but tests were run in Juneau (with Democratic party people observing) and the scanners read the Obama vote correctly.
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. got a link?
i'd love to read the article. also interested in how they can test the machine and know the vote was registered, once the election has started. and if it was on the same Diebold OS machine as I'm facing.
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. I'll see if I can find it.
I can't remember if I read it in the paper or saw it on the news.

Here it is... Excuse Ted Land's typo - he appears on TV, he's not a blogger. :)

http://www.ktuu.com/Global/story.asp?s=9270828

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Division of Elections performed a test of ballots Wednesday to address concerns that when folded, the crease obscured the Barack Obama-Joe Biden marks.

The test of 126 ballots and found no counting problems.

"We're seeing high voter turnout at our absentee voting locations, but that's to be expected in a presidential year and things seem to be going smoothly," said Gail Fenumiai of the Division of Elections.

A representative of the Democratic Party was on hand to observe the ballot test in Juneau.

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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. thanks, that's interesting, but....
the article doesn't say what they did in the test. did they just feed the ballots in and make sure the NUMBER of ballots were counted right? or were they able to verify that the actual votes for candidates on or near the ovals were acutally registering as votes?

it is very easy to conduct the first test, even during an election. on the diebold OS, you can see the total number of ballots right on the machine and you can verify that it's increasing with each ballot.

however you can't see if any particular races are registering votes. in other words you can't tell if the vote on or near the crease is actually being tallied. for that you'd have to take the machine out of the election (and since the article was written on 10/30 it's unclear if there was early voting going on, or if they were just preparing for the election). then you'd have to feed in a known number of ballots with known votes, conducting a "mock" election and then verifying the results.

If I can find the time on Wednesday I'll try to give a call up there and see exactly what they did.

thanks
Gary
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
6. Can't imagine...
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
8. Yeah, you should report that: 1-866-OUR-VOTE
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. I tried.....
i was on hold for 10 minutes and then forced to leave a message. i would have waited longer but they just said "please leave a message."
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Norrin Radd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 02:56 PM
Response to Original message
9. That has to be on purpose. They could've mailed those in large
flat envelopes with a flat return envelope, or they could fashion the large envelopes like Netflix return mailers, so that no folding is required.

Good point about the paper bill feeds. Those things reject the tiniest crease.
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GuvWurld Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
11. This has caused problems before
I remember a few elections ago there was a discrepancy that the elections department here in Humboldt, CA took great effort to track down. It was determined that a Diebold OS had failed to read a vote on an otherwise valid ballot because there was a crease on or near the oval.
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 04:23 PM
Response to Original message
14. What you need to do is to find out your state's policy for redoing machine rejects
In WA state, poll voters just turn in a ballot that won't read. It is torn mostly in half and put in a special bag to be sent in separately. The voter is then issued a new ballot. With centrally scanned absentee ballots, teams of duplicators perform the same function. These teams are observed by paid observers from Dem and Repub parties. All duplication data is hand-entered into a bound notebook.

In 2007 we had a really hellish year because a large portion of the ballots were printed with the registration just off enough to cause machine rejection.
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. that doesn't work in this case
the ballot wouldn't be rejected. just an undervote for president (no vote for president). there's no way to know if it registered or not. unvervotes are legal and allowed so the machine would just think i didn't want to vote for president

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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 02:31 AM
Response to Reply #19
24. I don't understand that at all
If the vote for president is blank, then your mark for that office is in an unauthorized spot on the ballot. The ballot should be rejected just like it would be if you had drawn editorial cartoons in the margins.
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diva77 Donating Member (999 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
15. Add this experience to the list of 999 reasons why optical scanners should NOT be used for elections
:argh:
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pacalo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
16. Could you IRON IT with the steam iron on low, then re-fold it more safely?
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OrwellwasRight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 07:59 PM
Response to Original message
18. Also note that Diebold simply makes the machine and
the paper, it does not assign the bubble number to the candidate. That was probably your good old County Registrar of Voters. So at least one thing isn't Diebold's fault.

If Vermont is going to continue to use these ballots and going to continue to fold them, the folks in charge should get a sample scan card, fold it how they plan to, unfold it, and then make those bubbles within however many centimeters of the fold off-limits for use.

Does Vermont have count watchers who could look out for this kind of thing and maybe flag it as a problem that needs to be hand counted?

Also, I hope this is an old post and that it is already safely submitted and not lost in the mail.
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. observers couldn't catch this.
if there is a problem with my ballot, it would just go as an undervote. chances are the ballot would go through, the other votes would register, but just my vote for president would get lost (erased)
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emlev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. try calling the hotline and punch in a west coast state
I think the call centers here are still open. They can put a complaint into the system for another state.

Do you have any audits there in VT? I forget. It may be worth trying to get one ordered by a court. Even if you were to iron YOUR ballot as someone suggested, and it made it countable (which you've clearly explained you wouldn't know), we can't expect every Vermonter who votes absentee to iron their ballot.

Somebody's got to get in there and do testing of how these things are getting counted, and see if there's grounds for a challenge. Have you called the Obama campaign's election hotline? They have one. Seems to me they may be the ones in the best position to deal with it. If you can't find a number for their hotline, call the state campaign HQ. They might even still be there now.
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harmonyguy Donating Member (589 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 11:58 PM
Response to Original message
22. Accuvote OS Ballot Specifications
Quoting from the Rev 3 -July 2006 Diebold Accuvote OS Ballot Specifications

"Scoring for folded ballots must occur in between timing marks. Scoring cannot occur anywhere on the timing marks. The scoring must align with the equal and opposite side of the ballot. For example, if the score was to start in between the 10th and 11th timing mark on the left side of the ballot, the score must then end in between the 10th and 11th timing mark on the right side of the ballot. This alignment must also occur on the reverse side of the ballot. Accurate printed image registration and ballot cutting will improve the vendor's ability to meet the specifications for ballot scoring.
NOTE: The location of score lines on the template is for convenience. Scores should be placed on the ballot to accommodate local envelope sizes. It should be noted that the fewer folds on the ballot, the better. Additionally, ballots may NOT be press printed on 'pre-scored' ballot stock."

The entire document can be found starting on page 10 of the following:
http://www.co.el-dorado.ca.us/bos/wwwroot/Attachments/e...

If I recall correctly, the issue has to do with the ability of the scanner to get an accurate reading from a surface that is not flat. In addition, if the ballot was printed using a laser printing process, there can be a tendency for the toner to flake at the point of the crease, causing other issues.

HG ;)
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 12:58 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. .


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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #23
26. that is really good.... but i don't see any mention of creases
i'm looking at mine... there are no creases going directly through the timing marks but they're awful close.

this brings up one actual advantage of DREs over opscans - at least you get a confirmation screen on the DRE. Here I have no idea if my presidential vote is registered or if it's an undervote. all I know is if the ballot is accepted.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. I got the impression that the timing marks and the ballot position marks were in line.
That isn't so? The image comes from the same Diebold document.

Also, I don't care what the VVPAT or summary screen says. What gets recorded is what is the vote. If we don't audit...we really have no idea.

But I agree with your remark about over/under vote indications.
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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. of course we agree on the VVPAT / summary screen...
i was just saying that if i had an undervote on this opscan, there is NO way I would know... whereas with DREs at least there's a confirmation screen at the end, where I could tell if my presidential vote was registered, BEFORE it goes into lala land. i think we're on the same page

on the other note...it does appear that the timing marks are ligned up with the ovals, however the ovals are wider... this doesn't reassure me. I would think it's possible to have the ballot accepted and one or more of my votes recorded as an undervote because of these creases.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Yep. Just reading the fine print in that manual suggests as much.
Diebold seems to be saying they can't assume the machine will count correctly if the crease is on the timing marks.

Actually, they can't assume the machine will count correctly, at all. But we knew that. :(

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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. that is great.
however it doesn't restore confidence for me. it's talking about the scores and the marks on the sides of the ballot, which to me are designed to ensure the ballot is accepted. however it does not mention anything about the ovals, which would ensure that all the votes are registered. it seems to me that if not having the crease go through a timing mark is important, it should also be important to not have it go through an oval.
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harmonyguy Donating Member (589 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #25
30. Folds on timing marks = folds on ovals
Each oval should precisely line up with the the horizontal timing marks. Thus any fold/crease/score through a timing mark IS a fold/crease/score through an oval, and is to be avoided.

I realize that won't give you any higher confidence in whether or not your vote counted. Ballots with folds through timing marks, and thus through ovals, were likely folded improperly. On the other hand, if the ovals and the timing marks don't line up, then they were not printed to spec. Neither problem is of any good to a voter.

HG ;)


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garybeck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. response
the timing marks do line up with the ovals

I trashed my absentee ballot and got a new one at the polling place. actually I still have the old one here.

at issue is, I believe it's perfectly possible for the timing marks to be read correctly, and thus the ballot is accepted, but for one or more of the actual votes in the ovals to not be read correctly due to the creases. i'm just saying it's technically possible

i talked to the town clerk when I voted. she said the absentee ballots come with score marks on them showing where to fold so they can fit in the envelope for mailing.

bottom line is, we need to get a report from the secretary of state of the number of undervotes for absentee vs. polling place voting. this should indicate if there was any kind of problem. there should be VERY LOW undervotes for president in both cases.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-09-08 08:29 PM
Response to Original message
32. Dust, Creases Slow Ballot Count In Boulder
Counting machines were not reading some ballots correctly because of dust on the ballots, possibly coming from the creases after the mail-in ballots were folded.

"I would squarely say there are definitely issues with the printing and with the quality of the paper the ballots were printed on," said Peter Lichtenheld, a spokesman for Hart InterCivic, the company that makes the software in the machines that count the ballots. "You have to have high quality standards for your paper."

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/17895498/detail.ht... -

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