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View Diary: "The Machine Counts It Right": Who Needs A Recount? (75 comments)

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  •  rmaybe right, as far as it goes (4.00)
    The machine may (or may not, if misprogrammed) correctly tally the votes it is able to recognize, but the Washington state hand recount demonstrates that human beings are better at pattern recognition and are able to recognize more countable, valid votes than machines.

    In yesterday's WA Gov update, I suggested that perhaps 1.6% of the ballots that machines (of a variety of technological types) failed to recognize as for-a-candidate votes were considered to be candidate votes by humans.  That percentage may be artificially low, as some effort to "divine voter intent" had already taken place in at least one large county before the machine recount that I used as the denominator in my analysis.

    As for the "human error" argument, of course humans make errors (as do machines, but that's another issue).  But every single new-found vote in the Washington state hand recount was examined by at least three people -- a partisan Republican, a partisan Democrat, and a (supposedly) nonpartisan county elections official -- who reached consensus on the assignment to a candidate (or to no candidate).  Unless they all, simultaneously, made the same error, this procedure serves to all but eliminate the "human error" argument.  Checks, double-checks, observers, open process.

    You're only young once, but you can be immature forever -- Larry Andersen

    by N in Seattle on Thu Dec 23, 2004 at 08:42:50 AM PST

    •  And get this.... (4.00)
      In some Ohio counties, it is clear that people have gone through the ballots. Observers noted that ballots seemed to be sorted (before the recount) into votes for Kerry and votes for Bush. There are also reports that undervotes and overvotes appear to have been REMOVED from the stack before the recount. This is probably one reason why many of the hand recounts matched the machine recounts--the ballots not counted by the machines had been removed from the stack so that human observers weren't even given a chance to see if there was a discernable intent on the part of the voter.
      •  Can You Say 'Cover Up'? (none)
        I thought you could.
      •  I don't think so.... (none)
        Ordinarily, that's what you do in a hand recount following a machine count...separate the votes into two piles for candidates (and add those up)  and a third pile for those going to the canvassing board to be examined for viability...that's what we did in Washington State. specifically in King County and others.

        Tell me how you spend your time and how you spend your money -- I'll tell you what your values are.

        by oldpro on Thu Dec 23, 2004 at 10:52:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That separation.... (none)
          ...occurs ahead of time, with no observers present? Cause that's what happened in Ohio.
          •  no, absolutely not (none)
            Everything about the electoral process is done in public.

            Are you saying that OH law actively bars the public from observing the process?

            You're only young once, but you can be immature forever -- Larry Andersen

            by N in Seattle on Thu Dec 23, 2004 at 11:43:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Read His Post (none)

              He's saying that Ohio law requires the counting be done in public, but that this time, it was done before the observers were allowed into the building. Before the observers were there to verify the integrity of the process, undervotes and overvotes were removed and the ballots were sorted into piles based on candidate, which then matched the machine total by within the 3% required by Ohio election law.

              Not only that, but in many places, the BoEs selected precincts that were known to have few problems instead of selecting precincts randomly until they exceeded the 3% mark required by Ohio election law.

              In short, the Ohio elections officials, who are appointed by Blackwell based on recommendations from state parties, haven't been following election law.

              Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

              by RHunter on Thu Dec 23, 2004 at 03:31:47 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, that's right. (none)
                The observers reported that to their complete surprise, when they started the hand count, the ballots had ALREADY been sorted. That sorting (as well as the removal of ballots that didn't register on the machines) had occurred without any observers present.

                There are even reports that precincts were pre-selected, without any observers present, and that the ballots for those precincts had already been put through a machine recount to make sure they matched the official numbers.

                In short, everything possible was done BEFORE the hand count to maximize the likelihood of a match. It wasn't about getting an accurate count, but about getting a match so that a full hand count would not be needed.

                •  Corruption Alarms (none)

                  And that should have corruption alarms going off in the head of even the most skeptical kossak. The fact that these BoEs, apparently on orders from Blackwell himself, are working to prevent a hand recount at all costs makes it pretty clear that something is rotten in the state of Ohio. Unfortunately, I doubt we'll have the ghosts of any dead kings showing up to tell us whose ear Blackwell poured the poison in...

                  Its like the media listened to Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" and said "Yes! This is how the world should be!"

                  by RHunter on Fri Dec 24, 2004 at 10:36:16 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Another reason they matched (none)
        is because during the recount election workers were going through the ballots the machine kicked out and marking them or putting "band-aids" on them.  This was witnessed in a couple of counties by the observers and is posted at David Cobb's daily update site.

        The existence of these band-aids just makes you scratch your head...little white sticky things they can place right over the bubble the voter has filled in.  I wonder how easily they can be removed once applied to a ballot...and why they even have them to begin with.  

        Personally, I feel that if the machine kicks a ballot out it should be set aside for a hand-count and all hand-counted votes should be kept together for examination during any recount process.  If the machine kicks out too many, maybe it's time to scrap the machine...well, I'm for scrapping the machines altogether anyway.

        •  white stickies (none)
          The Montana Supreme Court is considering a case that will decide control of the Montana House of Representatives, concerning the HD 12 race in Lake County. (Right now, the Dem is tied with the Constitution Party candidate...it's complicated.) The Dem petition requests the disallowance of 7 overvote ballots, contending that voter intent is not clear. Newspaper discussion of the case reported that something called a Resolution Board determined voter intent for those ballots, putting white stickies over the filled-in ovals for the other candidate.

          Sidelight, not responsive to your comment:
          Montana law or regulation (I forget which) specifies that the two members of the Resolution Board shall represent different parties. In this case, the Repub election administrator appointed a Repub and an "independent", in violation of the controlling authority. I think this fact is not addressed in the Dem petition, but I'm not positive.

          The "independent" is independent in the sense that she is not registered in a recognized party. The administrator said she was chosen because she had worked in the office a long time and was good at running the scanner?!

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