As we told you recently, after 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems reportedly began flipping votes from Democratic to Republican in Texas, and from Republican to Democratic in Illinois, and then from "NO" to "YES" on an anti-choice measure in Tennessee, there would be more. There always is, as we discussed on Thom Hartmann's TV show earlier this week.
Now it's reportedly happening in Maryland. Again.
Yes, there are still many states and counties out there that have so little respect for their voters that they force them to use these horrible, completely unverifiable electronic voting systems because, clearly, they don't give a damn whether votes are recorded accurately or, more to the point, whether any voter can ever know that any election result actually reflects the will of the voters. Whether these systems fail (as they often do), whether they are hacked (as they easily are), or whether they work accurately, voters can never know one way or another --- and that is the core problem with them.
Nonetheless, these machines are still in use across the country in 2014. One of the very first states to foist them on voters back in 2002 was Maryland, when they installed 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting systems across the entire state.
Those systems are still being used there today and --- whaddaya know? --- they are flipping votes, according to the state Republican Party which is now demanding an investigation after receiving complaints from "about 50 voters in 12 Maryland counties"...
On Tuesday, the Baltimore Sun reported that the state GOP in Maryland is "calling on the state Board of Elections to investigate reports that voting machines are switching ballots cast for GOP candidates to their Democratic rivals"...
Epstein said she pointed out the problem to an election judge, who told her to try again.
"I had to do it three times to keep it on Hogan," Epstein said. She said she had no problems voting in the other races on the ballot. Voters from Howard and Harford counties called The Baltimore Sun to report similar problems.
William Childers of Havre de Grace said something similar happened to him when he cast his ballot Sunday at the Higher Education and Technology Center in Aberdeen. He said his vote for Hogan registered without a problem but when he tried to vote to re-elect Republican Rep. Andy Harris, that line lit up temporarily but then switched to Democratic challenger Bill Tilghman.
The state Democratic Party told the paper they have yet to receive any similar reports from their own voters this year. But the Republicans say they have an idea why that may be...
That theory has been offered over the years. The top candidate is the "default", and if the selection is not made perfectly by the voter, or the screen is out of calibration, the selection may return to the default position. This year, though historically there have been far more reports of Democratic votes flipping to Republicans across the country over the years, apparently, its Democrats in that "default" position in Maryland.
Is that what happened? Who knows. Apparently, election officials in MD don't much seem to care. As usual, they are downplaying the problem --- even though it has occurred, reportedly, on some 20 different voting machines so far...
"These units are back in service because they couldn't replicate it no matter how hard they tried," Charlson said.
Another five were not tested because there was only one reported problem, she said. In three cases, Charlson said, machines were removed from service because of calibration problems --- the place a voter touched did not line up with their intended votes.
According to the Sun, Charlson "said election officials hear such complaints after every election, but voter error has been shown to be the reason for any faulty ballots."
Of course. It's the voters' fault. Not the election officials who continue to support the use of these systems, along with the elected officials, Republican and Democrat alike in Maryland, who have failed to replace the systems with ones that are actually verifiable --- like hand-marked paper ballot systems.
This problem has been occuring in MD ever since Diebold pushed its way into the state (along with Georgia at the same time, where the shitty machines are also still in use.)
MD has also worked very hard to cover up the enormous problems with these systems.
Back in 2007 The BRAD BLOG obtained and then released the "Risk Assessment Report" of Diebold's electronic voting systems, as commissioned by the state of Maryland from the Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in 2003. As we explained at the time, we obtained it from "someone very close to this situation" in the Maryland government.
The long-sought report was described as "The Pentagon Papers of Electronic Voting" by some in the computer science and security community at the time, as it documented all manner of vulnerabilities in the touch-screen systems and Diebold tabulators. It was even withheld from state lawmakers for years, until we released it, and it contained redactions made by unknown sources who appeared to be either tied to Diebold itself or otherwise very close to the company and interested in downplaying what SAIC documented as enormous vulnerabilities.
After all of these years, supposedly the Diebold touch-screen systems in Maryland will finally be replaced with paper-ballot optical-scan computer tabulators before the 2016 elections. But we've heard that from Maryland before. (Here's some of our 2006 coverage of their touch-screen system meltdown that year and their Republican Governor's call for paper ballots at the time.) Somehow, they always seem to keep pushing the date to replace their systems with verifiable ones back, as if they didn't actually give a damn about their voters.
What to do if you notice your touch-screen vote flips? See our report from Friday which includes a list of steps you can and should take. The most important step you can take, however, is to avoid the problem all together by voting on a hand-marked paper ballot. If you are not allowed to do so on Election Day in your jurisdiction (and, you may want to check, because many states and counties allow it but don't go out of their way to tell voters), then vote on paper with an absentee ballot if you still can. Then deliver it on Election Day to your precinct, rather than mail it in. That's the best way to optimize the chances of your vote actually being counted and in the way that you had intended.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)