Complaints With Computerized Voting Machines
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Free Internet Press and the AP
Voters nationwide have reported as many as 1,100 problems with electronic voting machines Tuesday. The problems ranged from a glitch in the machine which would not allow voters to chose their intended candidate to power outages.
Concerns about the machines were reported to the Election Protection Coasition, an umbrella group of poll moniter volunteers who set a telephone hotline for voters. The complaints ranged from power outages to incompetent poll workers.
Most alarmingly, the coalition reported that several dozen voters from six states - particularly Democrats in Florida - said the wrong candidates appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen.
"In many cases, voters said they intended to select John Kerry, but when the computer asked them to verify the choice it showed them instead opting for President Bush," the group said.
Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way Foundation, which helped form the coalition, called the summary screen problem "troubling but anecdotal." He and other voting rights advocates said the disproportionate number of Democrats reporting such problems was probably due to higher awareness of voter protection coalitions.
"Overall, the problems of outright voter intimidation and suppression have not been as great as in the past," Neas said, but the reports did highlight computer scientists' concerns about touch screens, which are prone to tampering and unreliable unless they produce paper records for recounts.
Roberta Harvey, 57, of Clearwater, Fla., said she had tried at least a half dozen times to select Kerry-Edwards when she voted Tuesday at Northwood Presbyterian Church.
After 10 minutes trying to change her selection, the Pinellas County resident said she called a poll worker and got a wet-wipe napkin to clean the touch screen as well as a pencil so she could use its eraser-end instead of her finger. Harvey said it took about 10 attempts to select Kerry before and a summary screen confirmed her intended selection.
Election officials in several Florida counties where voters complained about such problems did not return calls Tuesday night, the Associated Press reports.
A spokesoman for the company that makes the touch-screen machines used in Pinellas, Palm Beach and two other Florida counties, Alfie Charles of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., said the machines' monitors may need to be recalibrated periodically.
Intellpuke: "Recalibrated periodically? Why weren't they all recalibrated and ready by election day? And why do all the complaints seem to be with those voting for Kerry-Edwards ... I didn't see any mention of someone trying to vote for Bush and having their vote switched to Kerry."