VOTE! What to expect and look for on Election Day -
Tue Nov 7, 2006 16:24

VOTE! What to expect and look for on Election Day - BlackBoxVoting

VOTE! What to expect and look for on Election Day Reply to:

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The best defense is a good offense, so VOTE!
Now is not the time to retreat. Vote, and then find evidence to tell
the story of what's really happening in U.S. elections.
Things may look relatively smooth on election day, but the real fun
begins after the polls close. That's when we see a lot of strange
things. Look for:
- Missing memory cards -- and remember, a memory card is a BALLOT
BOX. This happens every election, to weird shrugs by election officials.
About 70 ballot boxes went missing in Cuyahoga County during the May
primary; a bunch went missing in Detroit last spring, and they've gone
missing in places like Dekalb County Georgia, and various other
This is nothing to shrug about.
Remember when a single ballot box was missing in Florida in the 2000
election? Everyone was going crazy, but now, you have dozens and dozens
of these memory cards, cartridges, and "PEBs" -- all are small digital
ballots boxes -- they are going missing. Very troubling. Watch for it.
See if you can spot it. Report it!
- Phantom votes -- this is when you have more votes than voters. There
were about 100,000 more votes than voters in Tarrant County Texas during
the primary, and more votes than voters in Ohio locations in 2004.
What to look for: Do a quick check of the number of registered
voters and compare with the number of votes that show up. Bizarre
anomalies appear almost every election.
Stage 2 is comparing the number of sign-ins in the pollbook with the
number of votes that show up.
- Sometimes you see disappearing votes. The number of votes goes
DOWN while the number of precincts counted goes UP. This happened in
Mohave County Arizona in the 2004 primary, and in Memphis in the Aug.
2006 primary. Alert watchers of county Web results often spot this and
capture it in screen saves.
What to do: Assign someone to capture screen shots each time the totals
are updated and check for disappearing votes.
- Obstructed vote counting -- we often see obstructions to being
able to see the vote counting, even beyond the obstruction of counting
inside a black box. In San Diego in 2005, a member of the Black Box
Voting board of directors, Jim March, was arrested for trying to view
the vote counting. I myself was surrounded by six members of the Los
Angeles County Sheriff's department when I had the audacity to ask if I
could view the vote counting there, which was taking place in a room no
one could see. We expect to get many reports from citizens who are not
allowed to view vote counting.
If you are obstructed from viewing the central tally process, report it.
- In the 10 days following the election, you can expect to see many
unusual things pop up in the public records that are obtained by
Of particular interest are the "event logs" that you get from Microsoft
Windows, which runs most of the tallying software. This can show
extra programs being run.
Also of great interest are the voting machine event logs, which can show
crazy voting dates -- like in Palm Beach County in 2004, where more than
4 dozen voting machines had votes time and date-stamped weeks before the
election, sometimes in the middle of the night, and Volusia County
Florida in the same election, where a machine had votes date-stamped
more than 10,000 years in the future. In San Diego in the June 2006
primary, the voting system event log shows that it dialed out to Diebold
at 9:31 pm during the middle of its counting.
- We also anticipate many peculiarities with provisional votes, extra
optional paper ballot votes, absentee votes and various obstructions to
voting around the country.
- Another thing we look for is strange statistical patterns, like
voting machines from one manufacturer giving results different from all
the others, or one type of machine giving discrepant results, as
happened in New Mexico in 2004. We saw three candidates in a row get
18,181 votes in Comal County Texas and one district in Minnesota had all
the minor party candidates get the same vote percentage -- despite very
big differences in how well known the candidates were.
On election day itself, we'll see vote-flipping, where people vote for
one candidate and another one's name pops up. And we'll see many other
unusual things.
I expect surprising new problems, like the new electronic poll books
having problems finding themselves, and voting machines that don't match
themselves (for example, having different results on their paper tape
than they do on their screens).
Document. Think photos, videos, and most of all, cleverly
constructed requests for documents. You have the right to obtain a copy
of just about any document you can think of, as long as it exists. Go
hunting. See what you find.
When you find important information, propagate it. Don't just call it
into one place, but e-mail it, send it to bloggers, give it to
reporters, provide it to public officials.
We want to improve elections, but first we need to make a solid,
indisputable case. And to do that, we all need to get into action.
Use your own common sense. Document. Propagate. Then push solutions
through for true citizen oversight. Now is your chance to take back your
electoral process!
* * * * *
Be very clear about your job as a citizen right now: It is to reverse
the swing of the pendulum. It's been swinging away from citizen control
-- your job is to take back your government. Start at the local level.
You own your government -- not the other way around. It is time to
get out of your chair, step away from the Internet, and get involved in
citizen oversight.
We salute the extraordinary citizens who are taking back America. Bev
Black Box Voting
* * * * *
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