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A few definitions and a little background:

undervote=someone voted but no vote was recorded.
This occurs when:

  • a voter signs in for a ballot but fails to vote,
  • a machine screws up and does not register the vote (or someone messes with the count.)  

An undervote rate of .5% is normal in a presidential race. In 2004 New Mexico saw undervote rates up to 34 times higher than normal (almost 17%) in many minority precincts.  Undervote rates were higher in DRE than paper precincts, especially minority precincts.

DRE=Direct Recording Electronic device (A DRE is a voting machine, either touchscreen or pushbutton- like an ATM). Not to be confused with This DRE which is an equally unpleasant process.

And a little more history: After the travesty of elections in New Mexico in 2004, the state got rid of DRE voting machines in favor of optical scanned paper ballots for the 2006 election.

And how did that work out for them? Let's see after the flip....

I gotta admit. I'm a sucker for multicolored charts and bar graphs. Unfortunately I am too much of a wimp at HTML to be able to render them here.

So pretty please... take a look at the nice little purple, green and blue bar graphs here at bradblog, and then come back and read some more.

An aside (If you are like me, and you hate the bradblog's ukky brown on green color scheme. Please take a moment to email brad and let him know you want him to switch his default to the nice white one.)

Ok, back to the matter at hand. Did you notice that those purple and blue bars representing undervote rates shot up in 2004 when you compared precincts with DRE's to those with paper ballots?

Like up to almost 8% average undervote rate for native american precincts, and over 6% for hispanic precincts? And then back down again in 2006 when those precincts changed to paper to an average of under 2% ?

Anyway, what the chart basically says is that alot of brown people in NM got their votes taken away in 2004.

And it really seems to give another data point supporting the idea that paper ballots = more people get their votes counted.  In this case, especially more minority people get their votes counted. Any clue as to why this isn't the law of the land yet?

By the way, the report was compiled by Ellen Thiesen of I don't know her personally, but I do know that she is one of those people working behind the scenes quietly in the election integrity (volunteer)biz  that we all owe alot of gratitude to.

Originally posted to biscobosco on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:06 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  so I am with those folks who say (8+ / 0-)

    simply. Lets make the paper the ballot of record. Yes, we can use fancy expensive computers if we really want to to produce paper ballots. Like the Automark.

    which produces an optical scan ballot.

    Here's the reason I dont like "paper trails" Too much wiggle room. In my state, the machine count is still the "ballot of record" legally. Confused? Yeah that's the way it really is. So even if you have paper, what the machine says is the record.

    IMHO the big conspiracy is the boondoggle. That is the fact that these dumb machines are an expensive PITA to obtain and maintain. In AZ in 2006, they figure that it cost over $4000 for every ballot cast on a dre.
    Maybe we should just offer disabled people the $4000?
    then at least it would go back into our local enconomy.

    utah is finding that voting machines are mighty expensive also

    the really serious consequences will happen our grandchildren.If we do too little, they will get what we deserve.R Strom

    by biscobosco on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:12:52 PM PST

  •  Another reason... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, peace voter, zappini, epppie

    I smell a rat and think that Congress should investigate why this is, why it hits minorities the hardest... follow the money and bust the bastards.

    If you don't like the effects, don't produce the cause.

    by Mannabass on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:18:09 PM PST

  •  Mail-in ballots: Higher turn-out, lower cost (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Oregon experience is an example for us all:

    It's hard to make an argument for electoronic voting machines now.

    •  respectfully disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter, zappini, epppie

      Mail in is much easier for theft, and true voter fraud and coercion of votes.

      I know oregon, I used to live there. Alot is not about the machinery, but the involvement of the people. And the laws surrounding the way it is conducted. Paper is not a panacea, but a starting point. mail-in is not a panacea, it might be a good starting point if accompanied by the right laws which stipulated audits, and good oversight of process.

      But with DRE's unfortunately you have a complete loss of transparency.

      I think mail in would be a travesty in the wrong hands. It depends completely on the implementation.

      the really serious consequences will happen our grandchildren.If we do too little, they will get what we deserve.R Strom

      by biscobosco on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:31:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Private Voting, Public Counting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      A lot of people incorrectly believe that mail ballots are a better alternative. Not so.

      The large jurisdictions in WA state (King, Pierce, Snohomish Counties) no longer claim that mail ballots are cheaper than poll site ballots.

      Mail ballots are also prone to errors. Voters do not have the opportunity to correct their ballots, which leads to the administrators determining the voter's intent.

      The post office loses roughly 1% of first class mail. Coming and going. In King County, with 1m voters, that's roughly 20,000 ballots lost.

      I don't have stats handy for how many ballots are rejected because of signature mismatches. I do know that half of those ballots don't get counted, because the voters couldn't be contacted in time to correct the matter.

      Due to a major screw up, 20% of the ballots in King County (Nov 2006) were duplicated, meaning the votes were manually copied from one ballot to another ballot. The reason is generally the tabulating equipment couldn't read the original ballot. That's 1-in-5 ballots copied by humans. I don't have numbers for the error rate introduced.

      I'm told that an acceptable duplication rate is 4% - 6%. Not very confidence inspiring.

      Note that mail ballots are counted by the same proprietary software (e.g. Diebold, ES&S, Hart/Intercivic), so you're just trading one evil for another. I've attended our central count, where the mail ballots get counted. There's no way for an observer to know if everything's legit; it's just too complicated.

      Our last general election had something like 30,000 provisional ballots issued. Primarily to people who lost their mail ballots. Like other places, King County wants to replace our poll sites with regional voting centers. There's still no plans (details). And so no one has been able to explain to me how 30,000 voters are going to be accommodated.

      I could go on and on...

      The thing to remember is that the Australian Ballot, meaning secret ballots counted publicly, is the enabling technology of our democracy. Hence "private voting, public counting". This isn't merely semantics or a discussion about security. It's the bedrock of our democracy. Anything that undermines either the secret ballot or the public vote count damages democracy.

      Mail (absentee) balloting should be permitted when it enfranchises people who would not otherwise be able to vote. It should not be used such that it disenfranchises voters.

      Thanks for listening.

  •  Thank God for Bradblog, Greg Palaste and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    biscobosco, peace voter, zappini

    others not intimidated by the mockery.

  •  Brad Blog BG color is customizable... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peace voter, zappini

    ...if you just go to the right hand column, choose 'dark on light' under 'color scheme options' for a light background with dark lettering.  It'll remember your choice from then on.  

    •  yeah, I know (0+ / 0-)

      I just think his dumb color scheme turns people off because it looks amateur. I think he should make the white the default.

      the really serious consequences will happen our grandchildren.If we do too little, they will get what we deserve.R Strom

      by biscobosco on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 08:21:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Land of Enchantment (3+ / 0-)

    posted an excellent diary about this yesterday (Monday) evening.

    Thanks for this diary, as well.


    •  darn I missed it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peace voter, Land of Enchantment

      I searched. under DRE, and a bunch of tags which were not the same.

      oh well. yeah. I will look at the diary. looks more complete than mine.

      the really serious consequences will happen our grandchildren.If we do too little, they will get what we deserve.R Strom

      by biscobosco on Wed Feb 28, 2007 at 08:23:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to worry. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peace voter

        It's a story worth repeating.  I claim a personal connection to it, because I worked the Taos Pueblo precinct (Taos County #13) closely in 2004.  Most of the numbers lumped the early voting with the machine voting, which obscured the problem.  Early voting was paper, and showed 100% votes for President.  Election day showed 1 out of 7 didn't cast a vote for President.  Made worse because the poll workers weren't properly trained for new provisional ballot rules.  They handled them incorrectly, so all 13 ballots that came in that way were discarded, too.  This just one of 1500 precincts in the state.  And the state was decided by less than 6000 votes.

        I noticed this discrepancy, and reported it.  Others got what it was about and ran with it.  (And others noticed problems elsewhere, too, of course.)  So I can take a bit of personal credit for this information getting out.

        I'm glad that New Mexico has taken steps to improve the situation.  Though there's still room for improvement, particularly on the audit front.

  •  on the diary tag front... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zappini, Land of Enchantment

    One more thing ~ AlanF has been suggesting the additional tag election integrity to topics on this subject.  So I took the liberty of adding it.  See this for more info.


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