Election Day is over, and despite some local reports of problems with too few machines in some places and malfunctioning machines in others…it seems to have gone pretty smoothly. Regardless of your political bent, we should all be thankful for that.
|It wasn’t that way for everyone, as the video to the left shows. No matter how many times this voter pushes one button, another lights up. It’s pretty freaky if you ask me and more than a little troubling.
This video is from Pennsylvania, not Tennessee. While the problem here is more likely a calibration issue, it certainly doesn’t do much to make folks feel like their vote is secure.
The truth is, the last thing people want is to feel like something shady is going on. That’s the rationale for all kinds of laws that impact voting.
The issue with touch-screen voting is and always has been the lack of a verifiable paper trail. As someone who works with computers all day, and so many of us do these days, we’ve all experienced the “I just lost everything” problem at one time or another. Touchscreen voting machines are just computers. In the absence of a paper trail, we might never know when that happens with touchscreen machines when they catastrophically fail.
In 2006 we made an investment in these machines. It was a bad investment if you ask me. At the time it took Democratic support to get these machines. I get that. But this wasn’t a strictly partisan issue then and it isn’t one now. I think both parties agree that unverifiable elections are unacceptable regardless of who’s in charge.
Since 2006, the company that first made the machines, Diebold, has gotten out of the election business, and many states have moved back to paper ballots.
Considering all the challenges we have here in Shelby Co., the fear about a correct count shouldn’t be one of them. We need to join the two Tennessee counties that got it right in the first place and the many states and local election commissions nationwide that are making the change and adopt paper ballots.
It just makes good sense, and right now is the right time.
Our next County-wide election isn’t until May of 2014…the County Primary. That gives us 17 months to prepare.
This won’t be the only change at the Election Commission. Word on the street is that there’s a top to bottom internal review in the near future, not to mention the Election Review Committee that the County Commission empaneled (of which I am a member). Integrating the shift to paper ballots in the reform process is both an efficient and intelligent way to restore confidence in the process.
There’s a lot more that needs to be done at the Election Commission, but removing one of the key sticking points, the lack of a verifiable paper trail, is one way to begin restoring confidence in the institution tasked with executing our elections.
We should all push to adopt paper ballots now. Here’s how to contact the members of the Shelby County Election Commission:
This is about the results of the Primary election in Shelby County from yesterday and how the wrong ballot problem may or may not have impacted the outcome of race.
There was a concern that the error rate we were seeing out of House Districts with contested Primary elections would lead to contested results in determining the Democratic nominee. For instance, by the end of Early Voting, House District 90 was showing a 15% error rate over all (people voting in and out of district). That’s pretty substantial and could have completely thrown the election.
An election with a result falling inside this error margin would have likely resulted in a challenge. However, that wouldn’t have been decided in court, but rather by the State and Local Party structures. This is something no party wants to be faced with.
For those of you familiar with the Primary Election ouster of Rosalind Kurita, you know that this can be both an emotional and controversial issue. Her case was different….Democratic bona fides were the question. A challenge based on a bad election would have been even more difficult because the actions of a third party, in this case the Shelby County Election Commission, would have been at issue rather than the qualities or qualifications of candidates themselves.
Regardless, the local party structure would have been asked to make a choice and in the most hotly contested elections that choice would have been very difficult and divisive.
Its still too early to tell, and none of the election day participation has been analyzed, but at first glance it appears that both the Shelby County Election Commission and the local Party structures are off the hook on this issue. The margins of victory lead me to believe that even if a challenge is brought it will be denied by the party. This is just an initial impression.
While the Shelby County Election Commission may have dodged this bullet, and the additional black eye that would have come with it, there are still plenty of issues regarding this election that need to be investigated. It is my hope that the investigation by the State Comptrollers office is transparent, thorough, and speedy. Anything less would leave questions in the minds of the voters.
I’ll also be looking into much of this. I don’t want to overly bird-dog the Election Commission, but I also think its important the public fully understand what has happened and how to move forward and regain the faith and trust of the public.
Just a quick update. Real life has intervened in my ability to update the numbers over the past several days. Based on a cursory analysis of information released this week, tomorrow’s numbers will be telling.
I hope to have a more comprehensive update tomorrow afternoon about the effect of the Election Commission’s efforts to correct the problem as well as other information.
So they don’t get buried behind other posts, here are the resources and findings that I revealed Monday.
|Google Earth KML Files:
State Senate Districts
State House Districts
Voter Participation List through 7/20/12
Download Google Earth here.
Watch the video here.
Note: New PVL files may reflect changes to the districts. Districts follow voters, not elections. As the Election Commission makes changes, so will the district information on new PVL files. I covered this here.
A very cursory look at the original Participating Voter Lists from 7/16 through 7/21 shows that as many as
37 36 voters had their Congressional Districts changed AFTER they voted.
You can see the results of this first search here.
We’ll keep following these changes as voting continues. I don’t think this is anything nefarious…this is the Election Commission working to correct mistakes.
More later as it develops…