Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can New Yorkers Trust Their New Voting Machines?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Today is Election Day (duh!), which for New Yorkers marks the first year we won't be using those steampunk, hand-cranked ticking mechanisms to cast our ballots; like much of the country, we've moved on to electronic voting machines. But can those machines be trusted?

Hey, remember Diebold, from the George W. Bush years? Whose chief executive was a top fundraiser for the president and whose machines had a history of suspicious glitches? Well, after suffering a nightmarish PR shitstorm, the company rebranded itself Premier Election Systems. And late last year, that company was swallowed by a competitor, Election Systems and Software, or ES&S.

Oh, guess who's supplying the electronic voting machines to all five boroughs including Kings County, and other counties throughout the state? ES&S!

(To find out which voting machine is being used in your county, use this map.)

Not that its acquisition of Diebold is the sole cause of concern; ES&S has its own tawdry history. VotersUnite.org has a 51-page rundown of its offenses, from 1998-2006.

Some choice highlights?

According to The Hill, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska served as chairman of ES&S (then called American Information Systems) at the same time the company's machines tabulated the vast majority of the votes in his 1996 Senate race—without disclosing the conflict!

In San Francisco, in the year 2000, 416 ballots were cast at one polling place, even though only 362 people had voted, and only 357 actual ballots were found. In September 2002, the ACLU found that 8.2 percent of votes in 31 precincts in Miami-Dade county had been "lost"—especially in black precincts! At the same time, in Florida's Union County, "a programming error caused machines to read 2,642 Democratic and Republican votes as entirely Republican." And so on and so on.

Have fun voting today. Who knows, your vote may actually even be counted.

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