Third Party & Independents Archives

HAVA Series Part Six

The 2004 presidential election offered many examples of errors involving DREs, nearly two full years after the passage of HAVA. Now two years further here in 2006 virtually nothing has changed, so look for problems like these to occur.

In Craven County, North Carolina over 11000 votes were mysteriously added to George W Bush’s total on ES & S machines, while in the same year somehow machines in a precinct in Mahoning County, Ohio counted negative twenty five million votes (68). Other errors involving DRE’s include: a machine in Washington State which was missing three and a half hours from its audit log in 2004, two precincts in Perry County, Ohio in 2004 reporting a voter turnout of 124 percent, and ninety nine reported cases in 2004 of machines changing votes from one candidate to another (69). In 2004 approximately thirty percent of voters used DRE’s yet reports cite that sixty percent of all errors occurred on these machines (70). From these errors the General Accounting Office released a report which stated these machines “have the potential to affect election outcomes” (71). Unfortunately for all of us the security of these systems has not greatly increased since 2004, and we are likely to see the same problems.

Outside of the problems existing with DRE’s the 2004 election provided evidence that HAVA was certainly not yet successful in its mission, and thus that serious flaws existed in our current system of elections. Across the country election officials reported being understaffed as well as under funded (72). In Duval County, Florida more than two weeks before the election the supervisor of elections stated because of the tremendous influx of registrations his offices would not be able to process any more voter registrations in time for those voters to show up on the list of registered voters for Election Day (73). Voting rights advocates indicated similar problems occurred in both Cleveland, Ohio and San Bernardino, California as well (74). The ACM reported that HAVA did not solve many problems as voters in 2004 suffered from: disenfranchisement, harassment, mishandling of absentee ballots, long delays in some areas of the country, as well as the problems associated with DRE’s cited earlier (75).

One of the most innovative measures to come out of HAVA was the creation of the provisional ballot. Provisional ballots were specifically introduced to combat any sequel to the voter purges which occurred in the state of Florida during the 2000 election. Yet because HAVA did not specifically guide states on provisional ballots states were allowed to regulate the implementation of these ballots the way they saw best (76). Ultimately this created a situation where the provisional ballots mandated by HAVA could be seen as a minor success at best.

Leaving implementation to the states led to many problems involving provisional ballots. Probably the top problem, which was highlighted in 2004, was the way states interpreted the term jurisdiction. Many states only counted provisional ballots that were cast in the correct precinct, and provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct would not be counted, essentially purged (77). In all, twenty seven states, and the District of Columbia, have adopted this more exclusive definition and do not count provisional ballots that are cast in the wrong precinct (78). To further weaken HAVA, and grant this power to the states, was a court case out of Ohio where the court ruled that states do not have to count ballots cast in the wrong precinct (79).

Overall the states counting of provisional ballots varied drastically. Alaska counted ninety seven percent of its provisional ballots while Delaware at the low end only counted six percent, across the country approximately sixty six percent of these ballots were counted (80). Other problems involving provisional ballots included: Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana and Nevada only allowing provisional ballots for federal races and polling places running out of provisional ballots early in the Election Day (81).

Nearly four years after the enactment of HAVA this legislation has hardly been a success. Problems with voter technology are possibly greater than ever. Provisional ballots have been an improvement, yet questions still remain unanswered. States given too much power in many areas, which has led to voter purges. HAVA is a step in the right direction, however many drastic improvements need to be made to truly ensure voter confidence is regained.

Previous Parts of this Series:
Part One: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004077.html
Part Two: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004091.html
Part Three: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004154.html
Part Four: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004222.html
Part Five: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004234.html
Works Cited for Part Six:
68. Michael A. Carrier, “Vote Counting, Technology, and Unintended Consequences,” 659, 662

69. Ibid. 662, 669, 677

70. Ibid. 652

71. Susan E. McGregor, “Report Concludes That Problems Exist With Voting Machines,” New York

Amsterdam News, 96 (45) (Nov 3. 2005): 3.

72. Jonah H. Goldman, “Partisanship, Problems, and Promise”

73. Ibid.

74. Ibid.

75. Peter G. Neumann, “Responsibilities of Technologists,” Communications of the ACM, 48 (2)

(Feb. 2005): 128

76. Jonah H Goldman, “Partisanship, Problems, and Promise”

77. Ibid.

78. Angie Cannon, “The Fix That Wasn’t,” U.S. News and World Report, 137 (16) (Nov 8. 2004): 31

79. “Election Law – Statutory Interpretation – Sixth Circuit Employs Clear Statement Rule In Holding That

the Help America Vote Act Does Not Require States to…,” Harvard Law Review, 118 (7) (May 2005)

80. Craig Varoga, “Counting Provisional Ballots,” Campaigns & Elections, 26 (7) (Aug. 2005): 49

81. Sarah Tobias, “HAVA or Havoc”

Complete List of Works Cited for Entire Series:

“States Fail to Meet Voting Reform Deadlines,” Congress Daily, February 7, 2006, 8.

Dan Seligson, “The HAVA Lawsuits,” Campaigns & Elections, 27 (5) (June 2006): 54

Mindy M. Moretti, “Voting Machine Deadline Arrives,” Campaigns & Elections, 27 (1) (Feb. 2006): 38

Eric A. Fischer, “Election Reform and Electronic Voting Systems (DREs): Analysis of Security Issues,” Congressional Research Service. Available at http://www.epic.org/privacy/voting/crsreport.pdf.

Sarah Tobias, “Mocking Democracy? Implementing the Help America Vote Act,” National Civic Review, 92 (4) (Winter 2003).

Alyson Klein, “Bush Budget Provides No New Help for Election Changes,” Congress Daily, Feb 17,
2006, 3.

Sarah Tobias, “HAVA or Havoc?” National Civic Review, 94 (1) (Spring 2005)

Jonah H Goldman, “Partisanship, Problems, and Promise,” Human Rights: Journal of the Section of
Individual Rights and Responsibilities, 32 (2) (Spring 2005)

“Election Commission Member Quits, Citing Lack of Support,” Congress Daily, April 22, 2005, 6.

Julianne Malveaux, “Voter ID Card Just Another Barrier,” USA Today, September 23, 2005.

“Developments in the Law Voting and Democracy,” Harvard Law Review, 119 (4) (Feb. 2006): 1146

Marc L. Songini, “Voter Database Security Questioned,” Computerworld, 40 (26) (June 26, 2006): 12

Marc L. Songini, “Auditor’s Report Criticizes Florida’s Voter Database,” Computerworld, 40 (26) (June 26, 2006): 12

Paula Hawthorn, Barbara Simons, et al., “Statewide Databases of Registered Voters,” Communications of the ACM, 49 (4) (April 2006)

“Daschle, Policy Group Pushes Election Reforms,” Congress Daily, October 25, 2005, 10.

Michael A. Carrier, “Vote Counting, Technology, and Unintended Consequences,” St. John’s Law
Review, 79 (3) (Summer 2005): 646.

Caron Carlson, “States Scramble to Test Ballot Machines,” eWeek, 22 (48) (Dec. 5, 2005): 20

Dan Seligson, “Use of Paper Trails Divides Advocates, Election Officials,” Campaigns & Elections, 26 (10) (Jan 2006): 56

Grant Gross, “Bill Seeks to Fix E-Voting Flaws,” Computerworld, 39 (7) (Feb. 14, 2005): 19.

Tadayoshi Kohno, Adam Stubblefield, et. al, “Analysis of an Electronic Voting System,” IEEE
Symposium on Security and Privacy 2004, IEEE Computer Security Press, May 2004.

“Countinghouse Blues: Too Many Votes,” Available at
http://www.wowt.com/news/headlines/1161971.html

Susan E. McGregor, “Report Concludes That Problems Exist With Voting Machines,” New York
Amsterdam News, 96 (45) (Nov 3. 2005): 3.

Peter G. Neumann, “Responsibilities of Technologists,” Communications of the ACM, 48 (2)
(Feb. 2005): 128

Angie Cannon, “The Fix That Wasn’t,” U.S. News and World Report, 137 (16) (Nov 8. 2004): 31

“Election Law – Statutory Interpretation – Sixth Circuit Employs Clear Statement Rule In Holding That the Help America Vote Act Does Not Require States to…,” Harvard Law Review, 118 (7) (May 2005)

Craig Varoga, “Counting Provisional Ballots,” Campaigns & Elections, 26 (7) (Aug. 2005): 49



Posted by Richard Rhodes at October 27, 2006 7:10 PM
Comments
Comment #190940

Richard, there are serious problems with your post here.

I decided to investigate the validity of what you were saying, so I began with your very first example. You wrote:

In Craven County, North Carolina over 11000 votes were mysteriously added to George W Bush’s total on ES & S machines

Now, here is a news article about that story.

Seems that there WAS a software glitch in Craven County which did register 11,283 (to be exact) extra votes for president. They traced the problem and found that some precincts were accidentally counted twice. There’s no indication that all, most, or even any of these votes were for Bush, however. None whatsoever, unless you believe that everybody in those double-counted precincts voted for Bush.

In any case, the problem was found and corrected almost immediately.

Without having the time to go through and research all of your examples (I really wish you would provide links) I have to say that I’m pretty suspicious of the rest of your post since your very first example was blown so badly.

But on a more generous note, I do agree that everything possible should be done to make these systems as fail-proof as possible. If that’s your point, I’m with you. But if you’re simply making a patchwork of badly researched stories intended to insinuate a “Republican conspiracy,” you’ll have to do a lot more homework than you appear to be doing.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 27, 2006 9:30 PM
Comment #191015

Elections are a practical process, not a metaphysical event. The idea is to get a reasonable idea of what they people want. If the election is very close, we will always have doubts.

There will always be error in any human system. The goal is to ensure that those errors are found and that they do not bias the outcome.

As neo con points out, the NC example you give is actually an example of success. The mistake was found and fixed.

I worry about fraud too, but we are probalby not changing the outcomes of elections.

Posted by: Jackj at October 28, 2006 1:04 AM
Comment #192071

With 10’s of thousands of dead people still on the voter roles in N.Y., one has to wonder… Who will be showing up in their dead? Make that stead!

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 31, 2006 11:13 PM
Post a comment