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TexasLawyer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 03:37 PM
Original message
Problems in Texas With E-Slate and Straight-Party Vote
I posted this earlier today on the DU Texas issues forum, but it has been suggested that I also post it here in the 2004 Election forum, since it is of a piece with the assortment of the other voting problems Dems encountered in the Nov 2004 election.

The reported problems with straight-party voting on the E-slate voting Machines resonate a little louder with me now that I have read the allegations of Wayne Madsen. Texas was one of the states that allegedly was fixed in order to pad the vote for a so-called "mandate" for the Bushman.

Thanks for taking a look.



Hi y'all--

I have just started researching the problems associated with straight-party voting in Harris County. I would be interested if anyone could share additional information with me on this topic.

My neighbor, a very solid and trustworthy person, told me that she tried to vote a straight Democratic ticket but each time she was prepared to cast her "ballot", her presidential selection was left unmarked. She had to go back several times and hit the Kerry button in order for the ballot to indicate that she had chosen someone in the presidential race. She doesn't know if her vote ultimately was counted, since she may have over-voted or under-voted depending on the way in which the machines were programmed a simultaneous selection of Kerry and a straight-party vote. Good question!

I did a google search for Harris County election problems and came up with this letter sent recently from EFF, an election monitoring organization, to Beverly Kaufman, the Harris County Clerk responsible for overseeing elections here in Harris County. The letter describes just some of the reports that were phoned in to the Election Protection Incident Reporting System :


https://voteprotect.org/index.php?display=EIRMapCounty& ...

As you might guess, these complaints are just a very small subset of the universe of problems that people encountered in the Nov. election.

There have also been reports of straight-party voting problems with e-slates in other Texas counties: Check out http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/travis.asp

As per the letter below, the EFF organization just wants Harris County to check its machines and fix them if they are broken. But I think that the causes of this problem should be investigated, especially since I have found no reports of voters alleging that they were trying to vote a straight Repub ticket and that they encountered a similar problem.

Thanks for taking a look.

Katie aka TexasLawyer






http://www.eff.org/e-vote/investigate/HarrisTX.pdf

Electronic Frontier Foundation
November 17, 2004
Via Federal Express Overnight Delivery

Beverly Kaufman
Harris County Clerk
Attn: Elections Division
1001 Preston, 4th floor
Houston, TX 77002
Dear Ms. Kaufman

The Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF") and the Verified Voting Foundation are two of the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest organizations dedicated to ensuring the integrity of election systems. We have specific expertise in direct recording
electronic ("DRE") electronic voting systems such as the system used in Harris County. We write because of the large number of machine-related problems reported to us through the Election Protection Coalition and elsewhere.

The problems that are of specific interest to us are those where voters reportedly attempted to vote for one candidate and the machine misrecorded or attempted to misrecord their vote for another
candidate. We received a large number of reports of this occurring in multiple precincts in Harris County, more than nearly any other jurisdiction in the nation. Reports are still being entered into our system. The reports included the following specific precinct examples, as well as a number of reports that did not include precinct-specific
information:

Rolling Isaac Elementary: Voters reported that #2 and # 4 machines did
not properly reflect a party-line ballot and inconsistently recorded votes for president.

Harris County Court House, Houston: Three of six machines reportedly
displayed selections for George Bush in the presidential race even though voters attempted to vote Democratic.
.
Scenic Woods Church of Christ: Machines did not record votes for
president when party-line votes were cast.
.
454 Shotwell Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 USA
+1 4154369333 (v) +1 4154369993 (f) www.eff.org

Beverly Kaufman
November 17, 2004
Page 2

Doeme lntermediate School, Spring: Presidential vote did not appear to
register when voters voted a straight party line.
.
Cthaise on Pech Road, Katy: Voter attempted to choose John Kerry for
president, but when she checked her ballot, George Bush was instead
selected. This happened more than once, but the voter was finally able to get the machine to register a vote for Kerry.
.
0566-1, Houston: Voters attempted to vote a straight Democratic, but
machines did not register a vote for president.

Given this troubling record, we urge you to seek an immediate, independent review of your electronic voting machines in their current post-election state. As you may know, the federal Election Assistance Commission 1, the Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights/Brennan Center2, as well as numerous other governmental and nongovernmental organizations have recommended independent testing of election systems with public discussion of the results.

To that end, EFF and Verified Voting Foundation otTer you assistance in both locating and securing appropriate independent technical assistance and in navigating any legal or
other issues that may arise. EFF and Verified Voting Foundation have significant and longstanding relationships with the leading security experts who have been investigating electronic voting machine issues
nationwide and we have been in contact with them to see if they would be interested in assisting your county with an independent review of its voting system.

Verified Voting Foundation was founded by Stanford Professor David Dill. Other advisors include nationally recognized electronic voting experts Professor A viel Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, Professor Dan Wallach of Rice University, Professor Doug Jones of the University of Iowa, Professor Edward Felten of Princeton University, and prominent computer security researcher Bruce Schneier. Many of these individuals may be willing to assist you in your efforts and we can help facilitate contact with them.


1 h!ill://www.eac.2ov/bo/dres.aso ("Rely as little on the vendor as possible; look for outside IT expertise if it is not available in house. Have either election staff or independent consultants design and run tests. . . Conduct post-election logic and accuracy testing of machines. Conduct a post-election audit to reconcile all records,
especially the number of voters and the number of votes cast. Conduct a public postelection "debriefing" to address any concerns related to the voting system.")

2 htt ://www.brennancenter.or ro ams/dem vr hava votin s stems.html ("Elections officials should hire a well-qualified, independent security team to examine the potential for operational failures of and malicious attacks against the jurisdiction's DRE voting
system").

Beverly Kaufman
November 17, 2004
Page 3

EFF has also been active in assisting independent security researchers who are currently bidding to assist the State of California with its planned source code review and security
testing of its voting systems. We understand the often complex contractual and other issues that can arise with such efforts and have spent a significant amount of time reviewing vendor contracts and considering how best to balance the public's interest in
the outcome of any such investigations with the claims of proprietary and trade secret rights that have been made by some vendors. To that end, we have secured assistance from some of the nations leading law firms and are confident that those attorneys would be willing to assist you.

We strongly urge you to engage in independent testing and review of the electronic voting system in your county. We believe that this is one of the most important things that local election officials can do to ensure that these technologies, upon which they have spent significant amount of taxpayer money, are actually working as advertised. Independent testing will give you the information and facts you need to demand improvements and repairs to your systems, as the State of Maryland did after the two independent reports it commissioned, or to take the path followed by Solano County,
California, and end your use of the machines altogether.
But almost as importantly, we believe that independent testing with full publication of results is the first step to building public confidence in our electoral systems.

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance to you in this endeavor.

Yours sincerely,
c:::::~~:~~=::?==
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Will Doherty
Verified Voting Foundation

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Sparkle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. I should have voted the straight dem party ticket just to see if
that would have happened to me. I would have raised some serious HELL.
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texpatriot2004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 03:51 PM
Response to Original message
2. A conversation with an advocate about Harris County votes
A: The problems with the straight ticket voting were reported here and were called "voter error". Doesn't seem to matter if you report it or not.

Subject: Re: ? about Undervotes
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 11:48:56 -0800 (PST)

Q: Yes, we had the same problems. The number seemed high to me too. It seems to suggest, at the very least, that voters had difficulties casting a straight party vote. Would you agree? How do we report this?

A: It seems very high to me. Yes, I believe they would be votes that were "blank"; supposedly that many people came in and voted for nobody. Sure, right.

We have the same voting systems here as you do in Houston, the Hart InterCivic, and the same problem with people trying to vote straight Democratic party. The machine would go back & switch from Kerry to
Bush. There were mass e-mails going out around here about it.

Subject: ? about Undervotes
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 00:34:04 -0800 (PST)


Q: Undervotes are the ones that could not be determined, right?
Even when E-Voting you can still have undervotes. I was looking at the Harris County (Texas)election data, specifically the straight party voting and these undervotes seem to be extremely high in number. I worked the election, so did my mother and we noticed problems people were having trying to vote straight party ballots. Our party even sent out an e-mail detailing the procedure because there had been so many problems. Does the number of undervotes look high to you? It seems high to me but I am just learning.

Under Votes: 386,404 Over Votes: 14

Cast Votes: 696,165 total cast votes

Republican Party 368,838 total straight party
votes

Democratic Party 323,996 total straight party
votes

Libertarian Party 3,331 total straight party votes













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texastoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
3. Here's what I heard
There were some special propositions at the end of the ballot. If a straight ticket voter didn't go to the end of the ballot and vote on the props, the Dem voter got switched to straight Rep. I heard this from Dem voters (mainly because I didn't discuss the machines with any Republicans).
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TexasLawyer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. If that's true then...
it's an absolute outrage.
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texpatriot2004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 04:16 PM
Response to Original message
5. Casting a straight party ballot in Harris County
If the voter opted to vote a straight ticket, brought up that screen, then hit enter, the candidate for president was cleared. If they did not re-select it, it was cast "blank" or, according to some, defaulted to Bush. Voters who were not instructed to "look for the waving flag" failed to completely cast a ballot and their ballots were canceled. Due to poor training of poll workers and the shortage of poll workers, many voters may not have been warned about the waving flag. If a voter wanted to vote, say Dem for pres, but Repub for other positions their vote for pres, in some cases were canceled or changed. People were not properly informed and instructed about how to use the machines. If you are a voter in Texas casting a paper ballot and you make a mistake, according to the Sec. Of State's voters'rights you may have two more tries. If, however, you are an unfortunate soul who must cast an E-ballot you only get one shot. According to the official who ran our E-Slate training, the voters' rights don't apply to E-voting. Hmm? So if we have to vote electronically we have no rights' when voting? The E-Slate "training" was poorly done. There was much confusion about provisional ballots. We were told by the official repeatedly for about 30 minutes that we must tell anyone casting a provisional ballot that "their vote would not be counted." What!? When I asked under what circumstances these provisionals would be counted, the official went off on a tangent. She didn't answer my question but gave a spiel about how many were counted in the primary elections. Approx. 90% I never got an answer to my question. Apparently provisionals may be counted or may not be counted and the details are decided by officials and the public is not told, in advance, how these are decided. I do believe they inform voters who cast provisionals as to whether their vote was counted or not. Still, this is not a transparent way to count votes, in my opinion. I worked on election day, I became the person helping voters cast provisionals. My fellow poll workers did not seem to have the most recent information about voting rules. But that's another story. I am happy to help in any way with your efforts.
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texpatriot2004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
6. Oh, and another thing, my friend worked the election too and
she told me that at least a couple of times someone came in to her precinct polling place to vote and there was already a signature there, indicating that they had already voted. Also, at the end of the day, their precinct did not balance. You know, the machine and the paper records.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
7. I think there was more than one problem with E-slate

The two descriptions here don't quite match exactly what I saw in EIRS.

Please anyone who experienced this problem first hand or was a poll worker, take the time to read the reports at this link, and see if they can all be explained by the problem as you experienced it:

https://voteprotect.org/index.php?display=EIRMapState&s...

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Czolgosz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 06:45 PM
Response to Original message
8. Voter Fraud in Texas
There have been reports of Texans who tried to vote a straight Democratic ticket but each time they were prepared to vote, the presidential selection was left unmarked or marked for Bush, and the Kerry button had to be specifically touched in order for the ballot to indicate a vote for Kerry in the presidential race. It is unclear if such votes were counted at all.

See https://voteprotect.org/index.php?display=EIRMapState&s...

Here is a sample of problems reported in Texas:

"Electronic voting. Voted straight party line. Did not have opportunity to vote on propositions on ballot dealing with party and press. Enter scanned through names but no optin to vote on propositions."

"Caller said when she voted a straight democratic ticket, the vote did not register for the presidential (Kerry) vote"

"calling about woman in FL who was on CNN who says she voted for Kerry and other democrats but when she went to vote her ballot, votes had all switched to republican. She called in poll worker who told her to clear machine, which she refused to do. Attorney at poll called in and he suggested she be allowed to vote at another machine. He believes serial # of that machine should be recorded and that machine and all others like it need to be sequestered. Critical that machines be guarded."

"Person reported that two friends advised that the electronic machines changed their votes."

"Democrfatic congressional candidate. She wanted to vote for but didn't show on ballot. She wanted to vote straight democratic (party line vote) but machine didn't register that she had in fact selected Kerry"

"Electronic voting, 1. Very complicated, 2. Pressed help button, no one responded. 3. Voted on 1st qustion, straight voting either democratic or republican (no other choice). Didn't want straight democratic. First selection on next screen, for President, chose Kerry and then got a screen that said "not compatible with prior screen"... clicked next screen."

"Machines do not record vote for President when party-line vote cast."

"Problem with voting machines - people reported voting for Democrats but their votes being last for Republicans - caller saw report on the news - Channel 11 - CBS News 5:00"

"Voted Friday 10/29/04 10:40 a.m. at Randalls Bk Road; voted straight Democratic but party machine report showed vote for Bush. E-slate machine."

"Individual called to report that a professor at a local community college went to vote early 10/22 at Great Northwest Library. He voted straight Dem. ticket & then discovered that the machine marked him as having voted for George Bush. He told election judge, who said "we'll keep an eye on the machine." Caller read about incident in school newspaper, not a witness/not connected with professor.

"

"Knew there was a prolem, kept trying to press the help button for 5 minutes, no help arrived. The prior voters vote was cast not hers. She spoke to the election official after she realized what had happened. Officia said as long as she had seen "ballot cast" her selections were taken, when they see the HELP button on, they were ablt to clear it yet she was never able to enter her number."

"Friend and she voted straight democratic, does it include the President."

"Electronic voting, voted straight democratic, 3 of 6 machines give Bush the vote although they vote democratic."

"Voted early around 10/14 electronically, had trouble with voting machine. First screen chose Democrat party, 2nd screen "Bush Edwards State Sen, John Kerry couldn't change or remove vote, then went to proposition, wants to know if her vote was accurately recorded."

"provisional vote switches from democrat to republican; austin texas; when rechecked the vote was switched; person calling for a county colleague in texas."

"Not sure she voted for Kerry, voted straight party ticket"

"She and hsband both voted straight party ticket and did not check box separately for president, so didn't get to vote for president but thought she did."

"Electronic ballot. Party line vote, worried it did not go through. Is not sure presidential vote was registered. Sample ballot nor any instructions states that party line vote did not include president."

"#2 machine and #4 machine were malfunctioning (not properly reflecting party-line ballot...sometimes recorded a vote for President and othe times did not)"

"Voter voted on the first early day to vote in Houston (october 18th) by electronic machine. Vother chose Kerry and when she checked her ballot she found that bush was selected. This happened one or two more times. By the third or fourth attempt kerry showed up as selected and voter submitted her vote."

"Touch screen computer: when voter checked screen, first showed Republican, then showed nothing selected, even though voter had selected Democratic ticket. Voter then selected candidate for president, rather than entire list, and was concerned about accuracy of machine."

"Went to machine 7, voted for one candidate, moved on, went back and candidate had changed. Another machine also had problems - was repaired by attendant. Others had problems as well"

"On the ballot, it stated that if you vote straight democratic, there was a possibility that vote could go to Bush. This was typed on the ballot at the very top. It says "straight ticket, Democatic or Republican". She voted straight ticket but cast votes by shading in the boxes next to her name. Does her vote cout? Said she never had seen the statement about straight ticket voting and was very confused about what it meant."

"Voted straight democratic ticket because she read the ballot and it said that if you want to vote for all Democrats you can use a straight ticket. Did not separatly mark a box for president-did nto know that voting straight Democratic tickets don't cast a vote for president."

"This happened to a friend of Kathy's in Austin - Travis county. She voted straight democratic and checked her vote afterwards. She saw it was straight Dem except the President was Bush-Cheney. She complained and they changed it. Dem party says that they have gotten several reports."

"reports that electronic machines are erroneously voting for the wrong congressional candidate in the 32nd congressional district when straight democratic party voting is selected- contact person was not affected"

"Voter voted on electronic machine strainght Democratic ticket but when he reviewed his vote the Republican candidate for Congress was marked. Voter called election official to see problem and it happened again. Second election official was notified. When he attempted to vote straight Democratic ticket a different Republican candidate came up"

"when you vote straight democratic at the end you have to press "enter" or "cast ballot" some were pressing enter in order to see if there was another page --but when press enter get Bush as your choice- so if you press cast ballot at that point you will then have voted for Bush. Can be fixed if you notice what has happened but may not"

"Caller reported that she knew of 4 people that voted a straight democratice ballot. When they went to reivew their ballot at the end it showed that they had voted for Bush. No return phone call needed, just wanted to make us aware of problem."

"Machines are confusing, if you straight Dem, then go back to review or change, a vote for Kerry is changed to a vote for Bush. But there is no paper receipt to verify the problem or if the vote was actually cast for Bush. Voter just received a warning from her precinct chair to that effect."

See also http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/travis.asp

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have asked Harris County to investigate and fix its voting machines. See http://www.eff.org/e-vote/investigate/HarrisTX.pdf . I urge everyone in Harris County to join that effort and I urge everyone else to check voteprotect.org, and if your county has voting anomalies, ask for a similar investigation.

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texpatriot2004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 09:07 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. There are over 36, 800 incidents that have been reported
about voting problems nationwide. Perhaps you are already familiar with these sites but I'll post them anyway.

There is a great map at:
https://voteprotect.org/index.php?display=EIRMapNation&...

And a list of REPORTED Texas issues at:

http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp?sort=da...

Reading through the incidents that voters had and reported is unbelievable. I mean, it's unbelievable that this election is an American election. It's unbelievable the blatant suppression, intimidation, incompetence of officials, and questionable even suspicious electronic issues.
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truehawk Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. kick
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truehawk Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Kick
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Vote4Kerry Donating Member (372 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-30-04 11:43 PM
Response to Original message
12. Thanks!! Forwarded this to Madsen
If you guys know of any other fraud in Texas, please email Wayne Madsen here (and post it on DU as well!):

WMadsen777@AOL.com

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Vote4Kerry Donating Member (372 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-01-04 12:14 AM
Response to Original message
13. Other voter problems in Austin/Travis County Texas
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Here's what one DUer wrote:

"A friend voting in Austin reported that Bush came up highlighted when he first clicked in. He was able to change it, but it was confusing. anyone else reporting this problem?"

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queeg Donating Member (529 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-01-04 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. yes had that problem voting
the other problem was the rail proposition. if you voted straight party you never saw the proposition unless you went back for it.
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truehawk Donating Member (797 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-01-04 08:36 AM
Response to Original message
14. kick
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