November 3, 2008

Don’t Blame Yourselves

By Mary Mancini

From John Gideon of Daily Voting News:

Just a comment to those who want to dismiss ‘vote-flipping’ as voter error. All kinds of people go to the polls to vote. They are highly educated and high-school dropouts. Rich and poor. They have long fingernails and nails bitten to the quick. They have thin fingers and wide fingers. They are going to softly touch the screen or touch it hard. Vendors and election officials tend to blame vote-flipping on the voters. They touched the screen too hard; drug their finger; had long fingernails; or their fingers touched too large an area. So, is it the voters fault? NO! It is the vendors who designed, built and sold these machines that don’t work for all voters and it is the election officials who bought those machines.

A large majority of the ‘vote-flipping’ has been on older ES&S iVotronic DREs; those machines that were featured on last year’s Dan Rather Reports. The cheaply built, poorly tested touch screens that were used as components on those systems should have been scrapped long ago. It’s not the voters fault and this constant pointing of fingers is wrong. The vendors need to remember that when they point a finger at the voters they have three fingers pointing back at the real culprit, themselves; and it makes no difference what those fingers look like, they are the fingers of blame.

Read “The Technical Term for Voting Flaws: Human Error,” by John Wellington Ennis, writing for The Public Record.

And remember rules #6 thru #10 of Stop, Drop & Poll: What You Can Do if You Have Problems at the Polls

6) At the First Sign of a Problem, Stop!
At the first sign of a problem with your machine (or if you have any other problems listed below*), stop what you are doing and ask to speak to the supervisor (skip the poll worker) at your polling location. Explain your problem. If they try and waive you off, call your main election commission and ask to speak to the election commissioner or someone who will satisfactorily address your issue. Keep in mind that many poll workers/supervisors will try and blame the voter. Do not leave your polling place until your problem is well-documented and addressed to your complete satisfaction and, if the problem is with the machine, that the machine is quarantined. If you can’t get the machine taken out of service, begin telling all the voters still waiting in line exactly which machine is having problems and try to get them to refuse that machine. Also, do not leave your polling place until you have cast your vote.

7) File a Report. File Several Reports.
Your local polling place will have incident reports that are specific to your county available to you. If they do not, call the county election commission and ask someone to bring one to you. Make sure that both you and the supervisor sign it. Do not leave without a copy of the signed report in your hands. Then, file a state report - info on how to do so can be found at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website or, call your state election commission.

8. Call the Election Protection Hotline
Report any incident to the non-partisan Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote, especially if you feel you are being bullied. This hotline can also help with filing reports and any additional grievances that you feel may not be taken seriously by your local election officials.

9) Video Your Vote
If possible, plan ahead for any problems by bringing a cell phone or video camera with you to Video the Vote (a national initiative to protect voting rights by monitoring the electoral process). If you encounter difficulties, or see others having problems, make a detailed record. Then, spread it around - local news media, YouTube, your own website or blog, etc.. Remember, the focus should be on gathering evidence and not telling stories. So, use video, audio, and photographs to document. If you do not have a means to record, then it is especially important for you to file a report (see #7) as well as write down names and phone numbers of witnesses, voting machine serial numbers, names of poll workers, and the time and day of your incident.

10) Never Let Anyone Tell You That You Can’t Vote.
We the People, indeed.

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