11/19/2004

Cal Tech MIT VTP's Ted Selker :The Real Problem with Voting - Ted Selker

Wonder if he would be partial when defending his own baby

Technology Review: The Real Problem with Voting
Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than what I saw on November 2 while watching voting at 28 precincts in the Boston area. Boston has one of the best election set-ups in the country. The city used optical scan ballots; in our evaluation of the 2000 election, we at VTP recommended this as the method which had shown the fewest errors of currently available voting methods. Moreover, through their hard work, local election officials showed an earnest desire to deliver an election free from tampering or fraud. Still, even in Boston , sloppy polling place practices and ill-conceived procedures abounded. These seemingly innocuous mistakes can result in lost or uncounted votes and can compromise the integrity of the final vote count.

Minor problems I observed in Boston included inadequate and poorly placed signage, making it confusing for people to know where to go. Disorganized check-in registration systems at numerous locations not only led to long lines, which deter people from voting, but also, in some instances, messed up the lists that allow officials to compare the number of people issued with ballots to the total number of votes. Some polling places casually permitted persons other than the voter (such as a poll worker or family member) to interfere in the process of completing and scanning ballots.

More dangerous irregularities also occurred. A poll worker removed ballots from a balloting box without monitoring. The person meant to observe him simply wandered away. At another location, the poll warden, also unsupervised, took bunches of ballots from the scan reader from time to time so that it wouldn't jam. Those he removed lay to the side in a pile of manila envelopes next to the voting machine.

Were you in Boston on Nov 2nd ? Funny, I was under the impression you were near St. Petersburg, FL... Gee, I wonder why (A libbie's take on today's events: Nov 2nd: Ted Selker on FL problems, Nov3rd Lines pose biggest problem for voters in FL)

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