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Why such absurdly long lines just to vote? DREs also disenfranchise 'cause they're SO DAMN SLOW!!

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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 09:47 AM
Original message
Why such absurdly long lines just to vote? DREs also disenfranchise 'cause they're SO DAMN SLOW!!
Edited on Tue Nov-04-08 09:48 AM by Fly by night
As stirring as it is to wake up to Election Day morning television with its multi-state images of long lines queuing up everywhere (including Nashville) to vote today, I know that it didn't have to be this way. So do most of us who inhabit this particular ER forum.

We know that, in addition to DREs being non-verifiable, prone to errors and ripe for malfeasance, they are simply and inherently slow.

Read the two examples below and understand a great part of why people are being forced to wait for hours -- for the better part of the day -- to cast their votes. If we had implemented (on a nationwide basis) paper ballots/opscan/mandatory random manual audits or hand-counted paper ballots as our election processes, American citizens could have been able to vote 10 to 15 times faster -- and start and end with a countable and recountable paper ballot to boot.

So if anyone you know complains tomorrow about having to stand in line for hours today just to vote, please share this message with them. It didn't have to be this way, if our small band of dedicated election integrity advocates had been able to have our way.

Just remember: We're not going away. We can't afford to. Besides, if we never stop fighting,
we cannot lose.
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Two small examples of the inefficiency of DREs versus optical scan voting systems


1) Two identical groups of 21 voters are selected to vote either on an optical scan or a DRE. Given the size of the group, there would be no reason to have more than one piece of each type of equipment for them to vote on. (Besides, that keeps the cost comparison roughly equivalent.) For this test, each voter in each group is paired with a voter in the other group to spend exactly the same amount of time completing their ballot and having it counted. For the optical scan voters, that involves completing a paper ballot and having it read by the op scan. For the DRE voters, both completing the ballot and having it counted occurs on the same DRE.

For this example, each group of voters has a fast voter who completes the completing the ballot/counting process in three minutes. The voters then stair-step (in terms of time needed) so that each next pair of voters takes another 30 seconds to vote (so one voter in each group takes 3 1/2 minutes, one voter each takes 4 minutes, etc), all the way until the slowest pair of voters takes 13 minutes to complete their ballot and have it counted. (I am not calculating the time necessary to find the voters on the rolls and to sign the poll-books. Let's just assume that these tasks take the same amount of time for both groups.) How much time does it take each group to complete all their ballots and have all of them counted?

Optical scan group (n= 21) -- 13 minutes; DRE group (n= 21) -- 2 hours and 48 minutes

Why is the opscan group so fast and the DRE group so slow? Well, all opscan voters can start completing their ballots at the same time, and can have their ballots read when they are finished, the only time they need to interface with the opscan machine. Since it takes so little time to read the opscan ballot, having 30 seconds between each voter means that there is no time needed to wait to have the opscan ballot read. While the slow voters are still filling out their ballots, the faster voters are having their completed ballots counted by the opscan. However, with the DRE, since the same piece of equipment is used to complete the ballot and to count the votes, only one person can complete the ballot and cast her/his vote on that piece of equipment at a time. So regardless of how fast or how slow individual voters are, they must wait until all the voters in front of them have finished before getting their chance to start filling in their ballots.

2) Once again, two identical groups of voters are selected, with 21 voters in each group. In this example, each group contains five voters who take 3 minutes to complete the ballot, five who take four minutes, five who take five minutes, five who take six minutes and a single voter who takes seven minutes. Once again, all other voting-related tasks are assumed to take the same amount of time. In this example, how long does it take each group to complete all their ballots and have them all counted?

Optical scan group (n= 21) -- 7 minutes; DRE group (n= 21) -- 97 minutes

Since the opscan machines read ballots so quickly, one group of five voters (e.g., the 3 minute voters) could be finished having their ballots read before the next group (4 minute voters) are finished completing their ballots and ready to have them read. But again, since the DRE only allows one voter at a time to complete her/his ballot and have it counted, everyone else has to sit on their hands until everyone in front of them in line to vote has done so.

Under these two examples, there are only two ways to speed up the voting with the DREs to complete the election in the same amount of time as with the optical scan:

a) buy more DREs (10-15 more) and hope that slow voters don't end up using the same DRE, or
b) have DRE voters get discouraged with the long wait and leave the polling place without voting.

So if the time it takes to complete an election were the only criterion for selecting voting equipment, opscan would win hands-down. Add to that the facts that opscans are much less expensive per unit of votes cast and they start and end with a paper ballot that is available for an audit or recount, the selection really should be a no-brainer. So what is our problem (really) here in Tennessee?
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"Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced." H.L. Mencken

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair

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Crazy Dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. Slow ass poll workers don't help either
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

If they or anybody any age can do the job correctly and efficiently then fine but if you're too fucking slow and/or incompetent, then you do in fact disenfranchise voters who will only have a limited window of time to vote today.
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krumpli Donating Member (96 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
2. Because of American exceptionalism
Didn't Joe Scar tell you that this morning?

Only in America do millions of voters have to stand in line on election day like they do it in Zambia or Angola.
Make sense, right?
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Fly by night Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Welcome to DU. Huh?
Edited on Tue Nov-04-08 12:01 PM by Fly by night
BTW, I don't watch Slow Joe in the morning -- surprised any people around here do.

I might compare our potential experience with Canada, where elections are cast on paper ballots, counted by hand and posted by the 11:00 pm news on election night.

That's plenty fast enough for me.
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dhpgetsit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-04-08 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
3. Please push for a mail-in ballot in your state! n/t
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-07-08 06:59 AM
Response to Original message
5. Bingo. DREs chain the fast step of tabulation to the slow step of human voting
DREs, far from being modern, are most like those old-fashioned Christmas tree lights that were wired in series, so losing one light meant you lost all the subsequent ones. Then they got smart and started wiring them in parallel ciruits.

Paper ballots are filled out in parallel, so that many people can be working out the slow part of the process at the same time.

I'd say that part of the problem is that elections departments are in favor of fewer people voting because it means less work for them. And if there is no way to audit or challenge the count, they can get home sooner.

As a poll worker in King County, WA, I was supposed to offer people a choice between using the AVU (Accessible Voting Unit) and paper ballots. I refused to do that, and workers on either side began copying my example when voters came back with their AVU slips because they didn't want to wait in line.

BTW, not a single instance of vote-flipping has been reported so far. These newer nachines print records on strips of paper, unlike the Diebold Premier systems in Georgia. Now whether that is because the machines can't be set up to do that, or because they can be so set up but our elections department refuses to implement that capacity is something that is impossible to know.
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