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View Diary: How to Repair the Voting System: Sec. Debra Bowen's Answer (302 comments)

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  •  We used to have the optical scanners (26+ / 0-)

    and marked our ballots with felt-tip pens but they got rid of all those machines and now we have touch screen machines with no paper trail.  

    Another advantage of the paper ballots is many people can be voting at one time.  We used to sit at cafeteria tables at the local elementary school with  cardboard dividers so we couldn't see how anyone else was voting.  Then we walked to the scanner and put our ballot in and were done.  We rarely had to wait in line more than a couple minutes.  Now we have to stand at the voting machine to read all the ballot questions and it creates longer lines.

    •  Exactly! (25+ / 0-)
      Another advantage of the paper ballots is many people can be voting at one time.  We used to sit at cafeteria tables at the local elementary school with  cardboard dividers so we couldn't see how anyone else was voting.  Then we walked to the scanner and put our ballot in and were done.  We rarely had to wait in line more than a couple minutes.  Now we have to stand at the voting machine to read all the ballot questions and it creates longer lines.
      And paper ballots are also much much cheaper than electronic voting machines.  Instead of counties having to buy 5 or 10 overpriced voting machines per polling place, they only have to buy one relatively cheap optical scanner.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:00:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's how I voted yesterday. (11+ / 0-)

      The only thing that gave me pause was when I asked the person attending the machine whether I should put it in face up. Probably a silly question, but the answer surprised me: "Either way."

      I guess the scanners can recognize the pages electronically now -- apparently both sides at the same time. If someone knows for sure, please tell me!

      It bothers me that the machines are made by for-profit companies. I'd rather vote on paper, open the public school classrooms for quick counting in small batches, and call it in. Any doubt can be checked by re-counting. Sure, people can steal ballot boxes and stuff, like they used to, but I trust people more than for-profit machines!

      "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

      by cotterperson on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:12:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They can scan both sides at once (13+ / 0-)

        I'm glad they designed the machines that way because it makes it much easier at the polling place.

        I too don't really like having to trust the machines, which is why Debra Bowen's strategy is to work around having to trust any one person or vendor: different vendors can be used as long as they implement the same standard, and a hand recount of a statistically-significant sample in all elections is there to catch cases where the machines are still doing the wrong thing.

        contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

        by barath on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 07:16:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yo Barath- one more piece of tech to add: (7+ / 0-)

          Universal close-up audio & video surveillance, with recording, of the entire counting process in every precinct.

          This would be simple to implement: webcams with mics mounted in the counting rooms, some focused on the entire room from various angles, some focused in close-up mode on the actual counting process itself.  

          Broadcast all of that online, and anyone who wishes can watch, up close & personal.

          Then if someone sees something questionable, they can pick up the phone and call Election Protection or some state agency, which can intervene directly and rapidly at the location where the questionable event occurred.  The surveillance files for that point in time can be reviewed, and if needed, the batch of ballots in question can be re-counted.

          Storage capacity is cheap, and successful examples of mass data collection are well known.  There's no reason not to do this.

          Beyond that, why not hand count everything while watching it all via webcam?  Do them in small batches, every ballot passing through two counting tables, and any mismatch in their totals causing immediate recounts of the batches that didn't match.

          The optical scanners could be used to get fast unofficial totals, and then the hand count the next day could produce the official totals.  

          A second set of poll workers would conduct the counts, so they could show up for work fresh & sharp, while the day shift of poll workers wrapped up and went home.  This also has the benefit of getting more people involved in the actual process.  

          This election was the turning point toward a future with a future.

          by G2geek on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 09:37:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed - this makes sense (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cotterperson, Lujane

            It's a lot cheaper to do this sort of monitoring than it was even 5 years ago, though I can imagine that non-tech savvy officials probably would be very leery of such a public monitoring system.  (And given how hard it is for them to keep their basic websites up on election day, I can't imagine they'd do this well - they'd need help from sites with infrastructure to replicate the feeds.)

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 05:00:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  True the Vote (spit) would be ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane

            ... on the phone every few minutes --

            Complaining about blue and minority districts. Sending cops everywhere, and suing when municipalities ran out of cops.

            Definitely, but respectfully, disagree.

            Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

            by MT Spaces on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 07:35:59 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  And getting (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane, cotterperson, MT Spaces

              their pants sued off after the election for phoning in fraudulent complaints.

              I'm all for them being sued into oblivion.

              I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

              by trumpeter on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 10:55:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Their backers have SO much money ... (0+ / 0-)

                ... and prosecutions for anti-vote shenanigans have been spotty historically.

                I don't think cameras are any answer, is my contention.

                Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

                by MT Spaces on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 03:17:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  You can't do the counting (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wasatch, mmacdDE, Lujane, Brian B

        In small batches in separate rooms. Unless, that is, you want the major parties to have to assign observers to each and every room where the small batches are counted.

        Just because you would have hand-counting doesn't mean that malfeasance can't occur. Ballots can be defaced. Blank races could be filled in.  Two choices could be filled in for a particular race. And so on.

        It is why the states have laws that require the ballots to only be handled in the counting area and can never be out of sight of the observers nor can any of the counters leave the counting area.

    •  Paper/Scanners: this is how we voted in NY... (10+ / 0-)

      ...at least in Rockland County and in Kings County.

      Easy peasey.

      Electronic voting should be ditched everywhere.  Who needs a "secret algorithm" to add up ballots?

      But the whole voting process needs to be made as unimpeachable as possible.   That means stop leaving it up to the individual states/precincts and set some basic national standards.

      Some thoughts:

      1) Election day is a national
      holiday.
      2) Trained and certified poll workers.  From a uniform (national) certification program.  Recruit more young people to do this (though props to the seniors who volunteer every year.)
      3) Mandated minimum number of early voting days and extended hours across the board.  Decide this on the federal level.  (Past the minimum, leave it up to the locals.)
      4) Let's do some math - based on previous election turnout, decide the number of polling places and number of booths/machines.  % of polling places/booths/ballets per head.
      5) Uniform voting hours, nationally mandated.
      6) Federal standards for tabulating and reporting votes.

      And...
      7) Make any attempt to interfere with, thwart, manipulate, intimidate, misdirect or otherwise mess with any American's voting rights is a felony offense.

      "When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?' Don Marquis

      by hopesprings on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 06:37:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice list (6+ / 0-)

        I would add one: same-day voter registration.

        You don't have to worry about getting your registration in weeks or months ahead of time. Create a flexible set of parameters for people to verify their identity and residency and they can just show up and vote. At the polling place you run parallel check-in lines: people who are already registered can breeze through so that people registering same-day don't bog down the process.

        We have this system in Minnesota and it's a big reason we consistently have turnout percentages above 75% in Presidential election years.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Thu Nov 08, 2012 at 08:16:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  WA has bubbles and mail-in voting. n/t (4+ / 0-)

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