Same voting systems fail year after year in the state; But officials have a terrible plan to deal with it...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2014, 7:35am PT  

Via KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas...

The Pulaski County Election Commission has received a dozen reports claiming voting machines are changing people's votes. Three of the 12 reports came from North Little Rock voters who voted at Laman Library.

Bryan Poe, Pulaski County's Director of Elections, said the commission is asking voters to be extra cautious.

"We're not the only ones that have experienced something like this. I've heard reports from Lonoke County, Franklin County, and I have also heard reports from Maryland, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas," Poe said. "They would go to select one candidate and it would select a different candidate for them. That's generally an issue that occurs with the calibration of the machine."

It's also "generally an issue" that occurs in Arkansas...on voting systems made by ES&S...year after year after year, as The BRAD BLOG has reported, continuously, over the past decade and as we quickly summarize below.

Are this year's votes flipping from R to D in Arkansas? From D to R? The story doesn't say, and, frankly, we're delighted about that. Because it doesn't matter!

Over the past decade or more, reports of touch-screen votes flipping from D to R have been far more common across the country, but it can go the other way as well (and/or to and from third parties). The point is that even when these god-forsaken 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems work as designed, there is still no way to know that any vote ever cast on one of them during an election for any candidate or initiative on the ballot was ever recorded as per any voter's intent!

As to the Pulaski County Election Commission's reported "plan" for dealing with this problem as they move forward between now and Election Day, it's a disaster in the making...

As reported by KATV:

"The first thing we'll do is we'll shut it down, we'll have the voter vote on another machine, we'll send a tech out there to inspect a machine, and recalibrate it, and then we will open it back up," Poe said. "If there's a second report on that, then what we'll do is just go ahead and close the machine, pull it off the line, and we will send out a replacement machine."

Shut it down? Good.

Send a tech out there to inspect the machine and "recalibrate it"? Wrong.

These systems are, by far, at their most sensitive to corruption and malfeasance when they are programmed and in "Election Mode", as they are when these flips happen during an actual election. Whether the on-screen vote-flipping is due to screen calibration gone bad or not, no "tech" should ever be sticking anything into these machines during an election. Period.

That vulnerability has been well documented, over and over again, by world class computer science, security and voting systems experts for years. Elections officials know that, they just don't care, don't think you know, and they won't bother to tell you. We just did --- for at least the dozenth time.

The video report at KATV says that because election officials have not been able to replicate the reported problems, they haven't taken any machines out of service so far this year. They add, however, that they are now recalibrating all of the machines every day during Early Voting. Again, terrible idea.

Arkansas reportedly spent some $30 million on the systems back in 2006 (federal Help America Vote Act money) and they describe them as "aging" and needing replacement just 8 years later. You know what doesn't age or need replacing? Hand-marked paper ballots, counted publicly at the precinct on election night. It's what we describe around here as "Democracy's Gold Standard" and it's the easiest system to use, for the public to oversee, it's the most difficult to game, and it never breaks down.

This is hardly the first time voting systems made by ES&S --- a private company and the nation's largest e-voting systems vendor --- have failed in Arkansas. (ES&S systems fail everywhere, every year, perhaps more spectacularly than those made by any other company.) Here are just a few of the Arkansas ES&S-related incidents we've reported on over the years here at The BRAD BLOG...

2010: Monroe County, AR - As we exclusively documented at the time, thousands of votes were reported as having been cast and then promptly disappearing after the state's May 18th, 2010 U.S. Senate primary election. Neither state nor local officials were able to explain what happened or why.

2010: Carroll County, AR - During the same May 18th "Super-ish Tuesday" election, a candidate for County Clerk filed a complaint after a local Circuit Court Judge gave an affidavit detailing his own attempt to vote for that candidate resulted in the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen flipping the vote to his opponent. One of the Judge's employees --- who had voted at a different location, at a different time --- reported the same problem.

2008: Faulkner County, AR - Though the ES&S iVotronics were said have "worked to perfection" during testing and early voting, a number of election outcomes in the 2008 local primaries had to be reversed after it was discovered the internal numbers on the voting systems didn't match with the systems' so-called "paper trails". The County Election Commissioner said the failure "should not have been possible".

2008: Clay County, AR - It's discovered that pre-election tests were not performed and, therefore, machine totals on the ES&S iVotronics were not "zeroed out" before voting began on Election Day in the 2008 general election.

2008: White County, AR - A virtual ES&S meltdown occurred during local primary elections. Errors included "5,360 votes, or 86 percent above the number of votes cast" being reported; ballot misprogramming; names left off the ballot entirely; and complete malfunction of the absentee paper-ballot op-scan reader.

2006: Cleburne County, AR - During a 2006 run-off election, a mayoral candidate in Heber Springs went to the County Clerk's office to investigate reports from family members of vote-flipping on ES&S iVotronic machines. After the Clerk told him that such flipping was not possible, they were both able to watch it happen before their eyes twenty times in a row!

2006: Benton County, AR; Poinsette County, AR - Various 2006 ES&S iVotronic messes, including more votes recorded than citizens in several areas of Benton County and, one of our favorites, in Poinsette County, AR, a candidate for mayor in the small town of Waldenburg receives ZERO votes, despite both he and his wife (at the very least) having attempted to vote for him!

And yet the state continues to use the same, crappy ES&S voting systems year after year after year, even though they continue to fail voters year after year after year. So, when we say election officials in Arkansas "don't care", it's kinda hard to argue otherwise. These failures continue to happen, and the state continues to do nothing about them. They hope you'll forget. We don't.

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For more on just this year's series of touch-screen vote flipping reports around the country (as of today), see below. The first 10/24 report listed there also lets you know if you should be worried about this problem and what steps you should take if it happens to you:

10/24/2014: "E-Votes Flip D to R in Texas, R to D in Illinois: More Trouble With Touch-Screens (2014 Edition)"
10/24/2014: "Touch-Screen Votes Flip 'No' to 'Yes' on Abortion Amendment to State Constitution in TN"
10/28/2014: "Déjà Vu All Over Again. Again. - Touch-Screen Votes Flipping and My Appearance on Thom Hartmann TV This Week [VIDEO]"
10/29/2014: "Unverifiable Diebold Touch-Screen Voting Systems Reportedly Flipping R to D in Maryland"

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