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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 05:23 PM
Original message
Old voting machines to be replaced by electronic devices in Nassau County

Old voting machines to be replaced by electronic devices in Nassau County

February 24, 2010

By Alex Costello

http://www.liherald.com/detail/22935.html

snip

We believe a federal judge will direct us to put them into use this year for the primaries and the election, said John DeGrace, Republican commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections, even though the county is suing to keep lever machines in place this year.

snip

But neither Biamonte nor DeGrace believes that the transition from levered to electronic voting machines is in the states best interest. Were being forced to change to correct a problem that didnt exist with us, Biamonte said. Our lever voting machines are much more reliable than electronic voting, theyve been tested over and over again, the public has confidence in them, the election officials have confidence in them, and I think time will show that electronic voting will not give us the same level of confidence.

snip

The county, according to DeGrace, must fund 5 percent of the approximate $10 million cost of the machines. However, he added, he expects the cost to the county to approach $5 million, including training, public awareness campaigns, technicians and additional personnel that may need to be hired.

snip

We just had the most competitive election in Nassau County history, where the county executive was elected by a margin of 383 votes, and no ones disputing that, Biamonte said. It took us five weeks to go through 8,000 paper ballots absentees, affidavits and emergency ballots. If we used this system last year, we would have had 260,000 paper ballots to go through.

snip

At a time when every municipality in this country is running record deficits, real serious services like public safety and services that people need are being cut or adjusted, why are we spending all this money to fix what? To accomplish what? Biamonte said. Were very concerned we think this is an absolutely unnecessary thing to be doing, and it serves no purpose. It accomplishes nothing.

snip

http://www.liherald.com/detail/22935.html


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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 05:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. I've been voting on opti-scan machines like this for 20 years
First in Minnesota, then in Massachusetts, now in Illinois. They are fine. I used to live in NYC, and I can't believe they are using these same old lever machines.

There is no reason to mistrust the opti-scans any more than the lever machines (which can be rigged). In fact, I think they're better because a paper ballot exists in the case of recounts with the opti-scans. I think Nassau County will be fine, and it's about time to enter the twentieth century (not to mention the twenty-first)

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Wow. You have all the erroneous talking points down pat.
If you manage to rig a lever machine, you probably couldn't rig enough to throw an election. And you'd leave evidence. That's not necessarily true of OpScan.

Have you checked the recount law near you? They vary. Most stink.

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frazzled Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 12:01 AM
Response to Reply #2
12. You're probably just not old enough to remember rigged elections in the pre-electronic era
The political machine is the most important machine to consider when considering the rigging of an election. When a corrupt political power is intent on rigging the outcome of an election they can do it with paper ballots. We saw it in Iran, and it's been going on throughout history. Is it easier to rig an election with electronic machines? Sure. But that doesn't mean that electronically counted votes necessarily lead to rigged elections. New York City elections were rigged with lever machines, and we certainly remember all the dead people who purportedly voted in Illinois long before the idea of an electronic voting machine was even a glimmer in anybody's eye.

The 2000 Florida election was rigged by using a number of means simultaneously: pushing people off voting rolls, non-existent recounts in precincts, judging ballots inadmissable, adding overvotes after the fact to valid paper ballots, etc. etc.

We should be more concerned about the political systems doing the counting than the counting mechanisms themselves. Retaining 80-year-old lever machines is not the answer to preventing election abuse and fraud.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 12:42 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. I just wondered if perhaps you had documentation of rigged lever machines. That's all. n/t
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 01:30 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. Oh, there's a POLITICAL MACHINE too? Inagine that!
"The political machine is the most important machine to consider when considering the rigging of an election."

And who do you think wants computers counting the votes in NY? They can't rig enough lever machines to get "elected" that way, so they want a system that's a bit more, shall we say, "flexible" -- like a software-based one. Yeah, that's the ticket!
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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. All depends on the audits.
If the audits are insufficient or not required, the opscans are just as easy to rig as the touch screens. Probably easier because people have a false sense of security because they voted on paper. I'm not up on the audits for the opscans around the country, but I don't think very many places even have audits and when they do have them, it's usually for a hand count of about 1%, which would most likely detect about 0% fraud. Without hand counting of ballots at some point, whether for the whole election or for ROBUST audits, there's just no way to have a democracy. End of story.
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 09:53 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Did you read the OP where there was talk of hand-counting...
260,000 ballots for a recount?

Hand counting at the precinct level would mean they would all have to be counted election night.

A typical election district in my county, and much of New York, has 1,000 voters-- considering 60% is a high turnout, six to eight people accurately counting 600 ballots, or more, after an 20 hour day is a lot to ask, and is not only more open to fraud, but the worst way known to introduce error. For elections with a high number of absentee ballots, the county knows this and keeps them at the BOE offices for later counting.

Various mechanical and electronic means of counting were introduced simply BECAUSE of the fraud and error rates in hand countng.

(I always wonder how many hand count advocates have ever worked a poll. Or a cash register, for that matter, or an accounting program-- should we eliminate Quickbooks because a handwritten ledger is more secure?)



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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. StevePol is talking, mostly, about manual auditing. NY has an inadequate one planned.

Not sure where you got the idea that HCPB "the worst way (sic - I'm figuring you meant, best) known to introduce error". Any link for that?

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 11:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. No links, just a fair amount of experience with...
actually working polls, not pontificating about them. And reading a lot of history where it tends to come up.

One would think, though, that since you have such an interest, you would have come across stuffing ballot boxes, voiding paper ballots, and maybe even the muggings over colored ballots in Boston in the dim past.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. It was your comments about the potential for error with HCPB I'm asking about.
You don't have hands on experience with that working at a lever poll site. But you seemed to be suggesting HCPB was the most susceptible to error.

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 12:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Yeah, that's why we stopped doing it years ago...
New York... Tammany hall..

There was a reform movement before last year, and we have an institutional memory.

If you're really, really lucky, you might find the PBS show about voter fraud down South when they had to allow blacks to vote-- it was amazing how they found ways to invalidate votes. Bits of pencil lead glued onto the thumb, false bottoms in ballot boxes...

Most of that sort of thing wouldn't happen around here, but hand counting is just the most error-prone way to do things. You may have noticed that banks use counting machines for large amounts of cash, and ask anyone in retail or cash management about error rates.

I spent some time in retail, and cash reconciliations could be a real pain in the ass. Inventory was a pain, too.

It all goes back to the errors in manual counting, but I'm not going to look up a study for you.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 12:46 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Again. Not fraud. Or "pain". But error.
But you're "not going to look up a study for" me.



ok
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #15
19. No. I'm not. Don't have time, don't care, and don't even know you...
Just sayin' what my experience is, and if you don't believe me, I really don't care.

Doubt it would do any good anyway.







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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #19
23. You cared enough to post a half dozen replies, make a bunch of claims...
...then a list of the reasons you won't back the claims up.


ok
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #23
30. That I care about, because you guys are putting out a lot of bullshit, and...
and there's another side to the story-- from our county BoE. I'm just putting out my experience and don't owe anyone any more than that.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:21 PM
Response to Reply #30
41. Can you point out where us "guys are putting out a lot of bullshit"?
In fact, it is you posting BS as evidenced by my posting links straightening it out.

So if I've made an error, or if any one else has, please let us know. I like the info on this forum the same way I like election management systems...accurate, trustworthy.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 01:42 AM
Response to Reply #4
18. Hand counting at the precinct level on election night....
Edited on Sun Feb-28-10 01:43 AM by Bill Bored
...is why lever machines were invented.

Counting paper ballots after they leave the building has always raised questions.

Using computers to count at ANY time, raises even MORE questions.

So the lever machines were and still are the answer to both paper-ballot and computer-based fraud.

It's really a dumb idea to get rid of them and the truth is, most of those who advocate doing so are clueless as to how to verify election outcomes without them.

The plan in NY is to hand count just 3%, skipping entire contests in some cases, leaving the rest to the courts, with no evidence for them to be able to judge who won and who lost.

As for the voters, fawgetaboutit!
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #18
20. The lever machines have several thousand small parts with no...
replacements, since they haven't been made for 40 years. And I forget how much they weigh, but it often takes three or four of the little old ladies at the poll struggling to push them into place if no on else is around at 5:30 AM. (Nobody seems to grease the wheels.)

Hanging on 99 is a big problem, too, and could tilt a close race.

But, while I am fully aware of how a poorly designed system can be compromised, why all the hatred for computer counting? Everything is counted by computers these days, and your ATM, grocery scanner, or restaurant check is more accurate and fraud-free than a hand vote tally.



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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. Care to back up the stuck on 99 story apart from the tired and unsupported Jones reference?
Oh. And vote scam doesn't count.

:)
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:35 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. Nope. I've seen it, and I've seen the number wheels stuck...
between numbers, so we couldn't figure out if it was a 5 or 6. That was usually on the units wheel, so it wasn't so bad.

BTW, do you do anything involving election work besides read stuff and bitch in forums? Anything that might lead someone to believe you actually know what you're talking about?

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:08 PM
Response to Reply #33
38. Can you point to the specific election.
A problem like that is noteworthy. What would logically accompany such events would be high undervotes. But levers aren't known for that.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-01-10 01:54 AM
Response to Reply #33
42. I stand corrected.
I've got word that indeed, there have been sporadic reports of stuck counters; that a single machine doing that wouldn't really affect undervote rates (or hopefully, outcome).

And there was a recent case where there was a bad machine and a close race.

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #20
28. I forgot to let you know about the fact that parts ARE available.
Despite your claim to the contrary.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/10/a-love-aff...

I've learned all kinds of things here.

:hi:

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Of course there are machines out there to be cannibalized...
but how long are they going to be there and how good are the parts? And how long are experienced mechanics going to be around?


what a ridiculous argument-- I can get parts for an '88 Corolla, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea for everyone to have one.

BTW, if nobody stops using the lever machines, as advocated, where would the parts come from then?


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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:06 PM
Response to Reply #29
37. From the response I guess you didn't read the links I provided you.
Oh, well.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #20
34. Not "hatred" of computer counting. The problem is lack of transparency.
Edited on Sun Feb-28-10 10:57 PM by Bill Bored
This is not a problem with lever machines. The parts are not only readily available, but can be manufactured according to the original specs if necessary. Nothing is hidden from the public or the election officials.

When you have anonymous transactions as we do with secret ballots, you can't expect anyone who got ripped off to complain the way they do with a bank, brokerage firm or grocery store. The victims will never know.

There are some bleeding edge schemes that allow voters to see that their votes were recorded, but that won't allow them to prove or disprove this to anyone else, and would still rely on computers to check other computers to see that the votes were correctly counted once recorded. At some point, the buck has to stop with human observers, and reliance on computers does not facilitate this.

No computer scientist I know of thinks it's a good idea to trust software to count votes. It's too complex to prove that it's error-free and it's also hackable.

Also, there is no piece of software that can be made so that vote switching between candidates is physically impossible, as with a lever voting machine. This makes verification of tallies and spotting anomalous results much more difficult because votes can be switched without generating excessive undervotes. And don't get me started on OVERVOTES, which is a known problem with ballot scanners because there's no way to prevent overvoting on a paper ballot. The best these machines can do is notify the voter that they've overvoted. We hope the voter will respond by correcting the error, but they may not. It's a usability question, and this assumes the software is properly set up to notify the voter in the first place.

There are lots more reasons not to trust computers to count votes. At this point, about the only ones who think it's a good idea are election officials who've pissed away millions of taxpayer dollars on this stuff, and at the same time REFUSE to confirm the election results using the paper ballots. They just want to trust their computers.

The election officials bringing the lawsuit mentioned in the OP should be commended for having the courage to speak out. We need more like them.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:59 PM
Response to Reply #20
35. The software has millions of lines of code. Have you seen any of them? nt
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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 09:59 PM
Response to Original message
5. Aw geez,
I hope this doesn't spill over into Suffolk County. :(
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 10:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Might have been where they got the idea.
Suffolk tried to stop the replacement of levers, but lost the lawsuit.
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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 10:23 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. I haven't seen any electronic devices used.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-27-10 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. That's because they weren't yet certified, and you didn't vote where the pilot program was conducted
Edited on Sat Feb-27-10 10:32 PM by Wilms
But they're certified now, and without legal challenge, scheduled to be used in the next federal election.

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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 01:03 AM
Response to Reply #9
16. Well, fuck me
that's just peachy. :sarcasm: In NY, we've had these damn levers for 100 years and these specific machines since the 60s and they have never caused a huge controversy that these supposed modern marvels of electronic voting have caused in the past decade alone. Change for the better my ASS!
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #9
22. Ummmm... they've been certified for quite a while and every ED...
in Suffolk has been using them. I think it's been two years. Definitely during the Presidential election.

Some of the EDs just left them in the corner, unopened, so nobody noticed they were there.


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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #22
25. Keep showing your unfamiliarity with the...ummmm... subject.
:eyes:

The ES&S and Dominion/Sequoia optical scanners were certified, like I indicated, recently. 12/15/09 to be accurate.

http://www.1010wins.com/pages/5901443.php ?


What was in the EDs that you say was "ignored" in some cases was a ballot marker intended for use by those with disabilities.
Sounds like you might not have been able to point that out to a voter, despite your experience as a poll worker.

Sure hope you didn't disenfranchise any one due to your unfamiliarity with voting systems.

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. And from a news story you know more than about the machine than...
the BoE out here? I'm impressed.

Do you know what was done with that ballot? What was done with the printed tally and the memory chip? You do, of course, know all about the security protocols for the printout and the chip, and, btw, what the printout said.

And that, in reality, anyone who wanted could use the machine.

And the real reason hardly anyone wanted to use it, particularly anyone who was familiar with it.

(GAWD, I love all these experts.)

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:11 PM
Response to Reply #31
39. You were the one posting incorrect info about voting system deployment.
And you did it by whistling right past the info that I had already put up that you could have easily verified.

Too bad.

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:02 PM
Response to Reply #22
36. No scanners were certified in NY prior Dec. 15, 2009.
You are talking about non-tabulating ballot marking devices.
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #5
21. Suffolk's been using them for a couple of years, but...
they've been over in the corner mainly for handicapped use. Hardly anyone, even the handicapped, has used them-- mainly because they're new.

The idea was to gradually get them into use and get the bugs out. This may be the year we go completely to the new machines, but I don't think the decision's been made yet.






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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #21
26. You're getting warmer.
Edited on Sun Feb-28-10 11:26 AM by Wilms
No reason to guess, and spew inaccurate info. The info on all these issues has been discussed right here on this forum.

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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #26
32. Where all the experts are. I'm impressed.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 11:12 PM
Response to Reply #32
40. You should be impressed. n/t
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snot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-28-10 03:19 PM
Response to Original message
27. Electronics are vastly easier to rig on a large-scale basis.
There's plenty of evidence that it's happened, and I have yet to see credible evidence that they're more helpful than not.
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