Dan Rather Investigates Voting MachinesTue Aug 14, 2007 12:49
GOOGLE: Dan Rather Investigates Voting Machines
Dan Rather reports Tuesday that election outcomes may have changed due to technical glitches in touch screen voting machines. His investigation has uncovered election officials who distrust the machines — and workers who admit to building defective machines.
The hour-long documentary reveals "new information showing that these defective machines may have altered the outcome of multiple elections," according to HDNet, the cable TV channel which will broadcast the report Tuesday night. They announced Rather interviewed scientists who tested the machines for an investigative report titled "The Trouble with Touch Screens."
Click here to watch 12 minutes from the hour-long documentary airing Tuesday night.
Rather cites a 2006 election in which 18,000 "undervotes" occured in a race ultimately decided by less than 400 votes — then says the experience "confirmed what some officials had known for years." A Florida operations specialist for County elections describes receiving 1800 touch screen voting machines — and returning all of them all as defective. The reason? Selecting the first box on a ballot would highlight the second box. But even testing newer machines wouldn't guarantee their performance, he says. "It seems like they'll work today, and tomorrow they might not work… They're just unreliable, in my opinion."
"How could machines that had cost taxpayers millions be so undependable?" Rather asks in the report — and then suggests an answer.
They were assembled in "the shanty towns of Manilla," he reports, by workers who were rushed and exhausted. Even when they identified defective machines, they were often overruled by their managers, one worker tells him. "It seems they're only concerned with the quantity of machines shipped from the plant.
"They don't really think about what will happen when someone tries to use it."
An electrical engineer who'd worked there for three years said machines received exactly one quality control test. "They shake the machine." And thousands of machines didn't even receive that test, Rather reports, because it would slow down production.
The machines are assembled by workers making just $2.50 a day, acording to the engineer — the minimum wage allowed in the Philippines — and even these workers noticed defects in the machines' American-made screens.
Ultimately the company sent an American manager to improve the plant's performance — who found he had to reject 30 to 40% of their supplier's touch screens. He endeared himself to the workers — by buying them an electric fan — but soon found another surprise in the production facility. "In the basement area, where we end up putting a lot of our materials… I probably hauled 50 dump truck loads of cats, rats, and snakes and all types of debris."
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