Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Texas evoting anomalies

BlackBoxVoting are reporting that there were some anomalies with ES&S iVotronic e-voting machines in Texas last week.

"When Wharton County, Texas citizen Jim Welch voted last Tuesday, he watched in disbelief as the voting machine changed the vote he'd entered a few moments earlier.

The machine was an ES&S iVotronic touch-screen, the same model recently subjected to a blistering Dan Rather investigative report, but what Welch witnessed does not seem explainable as a manufacturing defect or screen calibration problem like those exposed in Rather's report...

"Vote-flipping" on touch-screens has been documented before. Manufacturers claim votes show up for a different choice than that chosen by the voter sometimes, explaining that this is due to miscalibration of the computer's touch-screen...

What Welch witnessed was votes that registered CORRECTLY when he touched the screen, switching later to a different vote choice, when he was almost finished voting the full page.

Welch was stunned to see a correctly marked vote take on a life of its own, hopping over to a different spot while he voted on other items. He called an elections worker over to show him the problem. The elections worker helped him re-vote the ballot, and both men watched as the vote registered correctly, but later spontaneously altered to shift to another ballot choice...

What Welch saw was not a screen calibration problem because it registered on the screen correctly. It was not "voter error" because he literally watched the vote re-write itself to another selection, not once, but twice.

The election worker called the Wharton County elections office. Welch was astute enough to see that the suggested solution was not responsive to the real issue:

"You may continue on with this ballot if you like," said the elections worker after conferring with Wharton County elections personnel, "Or I can void this and you can start over."

This is a machine that had already demonstrated it can't be trusted. This is a machine that would fail the much-touted "Logic & Accuracy" testing purported to prove voting machines don't cheat. This is a machine that would not have passed certification tests had it performed this way for the test labs. This is a machine that has no business counting votes at all...

Jim Welch spoke with Wharton County Clerk Judy Owens about the matter, and she provided answers that were even more unrelated to the problem:

"You can go back and check your vote before casting it," she pointed out, referring to the voter's ability to page back one by one to review each panel. But if the machine can alter a vote – especially if the timing is such that this happens after you have moved to a new page – what good will that do?

"We can print each vote out," she said, but Welch astutely questioned how and when votes can be printed, They aren't printed at the same time as the voter votes, and the printouts simply re-create what the computer program records, so what good is that? "

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