Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Potential Election Debacle Looms

What a surprise.

Aside from some new voting machines in one California county with a faulty audio program for the hearing impared only working in Vietnamese, there are a host of other problems lurking for American voters on November 7.

From the New York Times:

In Maryland, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, a shortage of technicians has vendors for new machines soliciting applications for technical support workers on job Web sites like

Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania are among the states considered most likely to experience difficulties, according to voting experts who have been tracking the technology and other election changes.

Election officials in many of the states are struggling with delays in the delivery of machines before the election as old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines are phased out. A chronic shortage of poll workers, many of them retirees uncomfortable with new technology, has worsened matters.

Tova Wang, who studies elections for the Century Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, said: “We also have the greatest potential for problems in more places next month than in any voting season before.”

The article also cites Boone County, Missouri where 600 poll workers have not yet been trained. To compound the problem, the software coding to print training manuals has yet to be provided.

Newly enacted and very questionable voter identification laws in several states pose a potential problem as well.

“We’re expecting arguments at the polls in these states that will slow everything down and probably cause large numbers of legitimate voters to be turned away or to be forced to vote on provisional ballots,” said Barbara Burt, an elections reform director for Common Cause.

Meanwhile, votes in about half of the 45 most competitive Congressional races, including contests in Florida, Georgia and Indiana, will be cast on electronic machines that provide no independent means of verification.

In North Carolina, Wake County, which includes Raleigh, is expecting 350,000 voters on election day, a huge increase from the 30,000 voters in the May primary. Cherie Poucher, elections director for the county expressed concern over the scan machines in use. Twelve new machines had to be replaced during the primary due to a failure to boot up.

Not all officials are pessimistic and let's home they are correct. After the presidential election issues in 2000 and 2004, each being decided by one state, one would hope the public mood will not tolerate widespread snafus again. We shall soon see.

For map and
chart geeks such as myself, follow the link to a nifty map showing counties which have had voting equipment changes since 2000.

crossposted at Pam’s House Blend and B3

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