Sometimes we are able to forestall obvious disasters. By now most everyone has heard of the election debacle in Denver, Colorado, on November 7, 2006, that resulted from the dimwitted adoption of voting centers. As is common for many issues, the Equal Justice Foundation has been speaking out against vote centers for years now and I happened across a letter published in January 2005 that, together with the help of a couple of volunteers on the panel examining vote centers, helped forestall their adoption here. As a result our 2006 elections were quite uneventful though we still need to do something about our Diebold machines.
Apparently County Clerk Bob Balink has never met a terrible idea for voting that he didn't like ("County might eliminate traditional polling places," Metro, Dec. 31). Balink wants to do away with one of the last few protections we have for our elections.
A basic function of precinct voting is to ensure that voters who don't reside there don't vote there. And anyone who can't find their local precinct likely isn't authorized to vote there anyway. But Balink wants to do away with that time-tested method of maintaining election integrity and hide counting ballots even deeper from public scrutiny in voting centers.
Citizen election judges in our local precinct are one of the last bulwarks against election fraud. Balink wants to replace them with people he controls and "trains." His Diebold black boxes have already eliminated any oversight of the ballot count by poll watchers and even now election judges have no idea what the AccuVote tabulator actually does with a ballot.
The Diebold voting system used here has flunked security tests in Maryland and Ohio and was decertified in California. But that doesn't bother our county clerk, who simply ignores all warnings about computer security. Voting centers would make it even harder for citizens to discern the numerous problems with our Diebold voting machines. In turn, that would help the clerk cover his backside. From that perspective, one can understand why Balink thinks highly of voting centers. However, from the perspective of election integrity and citizen oversight, such centers are a bad idea that should die.