Various News Reports — 2006 Primary Elections


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The following articles are reproduced under the Fair Use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.

This is not a complete tabulation of voting problems in the 2006 primary elections by any stretch of the imagination or election officials rosy claims.

[EJF comments are in Courier font]



Voting machines stolen in Barbour County, Alabama

Centralized voting merits further study in San Mateo County, California

West Virginia purging voter rolls

New-fangled voting by Ed Quillen

CNN's Lou Dobbs: Report exposes Cuyahoga County, Ohio, May primary e-voting debacle

Kitty Pilgrim reports

Wisconsin: Primary election plagued by computer problems by John Washburn

Winnebago County

Waukesha County

Milwaukee County

Election fraud alive and well in Santa Ana (Orange County) California

Election judges grapple with new voting machines by Katy Human


Voting machines stolen in Barbour County, Alabama


Jon Kalahar


You've heard of stealing votes, but apparently in Barbour County, no one got that chance. Someone stole the county's voting machines.

The only two voting machines for the Mount Andrew community were swiped sometime before poll workers arrived Tuesday morning.

The Mount Andrew Community Center sits out in the middle of this field, and the Barbour County Sheriff says a locked door was no deterrent for those who made off with two voting machines.

"There were signs of forced entry of course. They had broken the door where it wouldn't lock." said Marshall Williams. Barbour County Sheriff.

The two computerized voting machines cost the county more than six thousand dollars. The sheriff says he just doesn't understand.

"Years and years ago, I've heard of voting machines being stolen, but they were full of votes. I never heard of voting machines being stolen with nothing in it." said Sheriff Williams.

Sheriff Williams says the poll workers arrived to find the doors unlocked and the voting machines no where to be found. But take a look around, there are no houses within sight, and that means no witnesses for the crime.

Even with the hassle of replacing the stolen machines, poll worker Shirley Patterson says voting was only delayed about an hour.

"Really I say, well whoever did it, you know, it didn't stop us. It didn't stop us, we still had a good count." said Shirley Patterson, poll worker.

Barbour County Sheriff Marshall Williams says this is considered a federal crime. And he has contacted the FBI, who will conduct its own investigation. As for catching the thieves, Sheriff Williams believes some kids did this as a prank.


[EJF note: If one wants to learn how to hack voting machines one of the first requirements is to have a voting machine to practice on.]


Centralized voting merits further study in San Mateo County, California


Mercury News Editorial

San Mateo County off to a slow start, but program has promise [EJF note: For fraud!]

[EJF note: This is a program that can only be described as being managed by Dumb and Dumber.]

June 7, 2006 —Voters in San Mateo County didn't exactly knock down the doors to vote early at the new "universal voting centers" set up by Chief Elections Officer Warren Slocum two weeks before Tuesday's primary election. Only one-tenth of 1 percent of the county's 350,000 registered voters — 387 voters — took up the offer to vote on the new touch-screen machines in seven locations.

That was a lot fewer than Slocum expected. But the county shouldn't give up on early electronic voting. Many counties allow early voting at registrar offices. But these convenient, centrally located electronic kiosks may be the future of voting in California.

Each touch-screen machine was programmed with ballots from every precinct (720 combinations) — so a voter could have gone anywhere in the county to vote. For instance, residents in Half Moon Bay who commuted or shopped in Redwood City could vote there on weekends or in the evening.

The early voting centers were an improvised solution to a problem facing many California counties. There was a shortage of certified touch-screen machines that satisfied both a new federal law requiring a handicapped-accessible voting machine in every precinct, and a new state law requiring that these machines create a paper record verifying the electronic choices that voters made. Slocum's solution — renting two dozen machines placed in central locations — at least satisfied the spirit of the law.

More than a third of San Mateo County voters vote permanent-absentee already. By combining mail voting and centralized electronic kiosks, the county could junk the more cumbersome optical-scan systems, save money by consolidating precincts, relieve Election Day hassles and give voters more options. Although the inaugural turnout was poor, this combination might increase turnout.

At the center we visited — the library in East Palo Alto — the Hart Intercivic touch-screen machines got good reviews regarding ease of use and drew no reports of glitches from four poll workers and two voters. But by Monday afternoon, only 28 people, including one legally blind voter, had cast ballots since May 22.

Each center used a wireless computer connected to a voter-registration database to match signatures and prevent double voting. [EJF note: We are astounded at the idiocy of having a wireless connection for a voter registration database.] However, security issues must be resolved. The potential for tampering increases when voting machines are left in multiple locations for weeks. And paper recounts on universal machines, with votes from many precincts mixed together on one roll of paper, could be a mess. [Gee, who would have guessed?]

Still, the combination of voting by mail and centralized electronic voting centers has great potential — for democracy and cost savings. Slocum would like to have San Mateo County become a pilot program for the dual system in a few years, after the bugs are worked out. The Legislature, which must give its approval, should let him try. [EJF note: Actually it appears Slocum should be committed for criminal stupidity.]


West Virginia purging voter rolls by Tom Searls


© 2006 by Tom Searls, West Virginia Gazette

6,000-plus dead people still registered; some voted in May

June 10, 2006 — More than 6,000 dead people have been identified as remaining on West Virginia's voting rolls, while evidence shows the possibility that more than one voted in the recent May primary, officials with the Secretary of State's Office said Friday.

"There are several thousand more that need additional scrutiny," said Ben Beakes, spokesman for Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

Recent federal law mandated a central voter-registration list in every state. This year, for the first time, the secretary of state has been able to cross-reference voter registration lists with death statistics provided by the state Bureau of Vital Statistics, Beakes said.

In the past, county clerks in the state's 55 counties used such things as newspaper obituaries to purge voting lists of deceased residents.

"We have identified 6,000 individuals on the voter registration list that are high-probability of being deceased," Beakes said.

Bureau of Vital Statistics records give the name, date of birth and in some cases the Social Security numbers of those who have died. In the case of the "several thousand" more that need additional scrutiny, Beakes said that in many cases, it is because of a middle name or initial that is not available. County clerks should be able to discern if they are deceased by taking a closer look at records, he said.

In a state at times renowned for dead voters casting ballots, Beakes said it appears there could have been some walking dead voting in May's primary election.

"We are seeing an occasional deceased voter that has voted," he said.

While saying Ireland's office will aggressively pursue such offenses, Beakes said some of those marked as voting might be simple clerical mistakes.

"We cannot disenfranchise any voter that may be erroneously flagged as deceased," he said.

Southern West Virginia has been notoriously known as the place where the dead rise up on Election Day every two years. Beakes said results of the comparison showed a high concentration of deceased people remaining on voting rolls in that region.

"Some of the highest concentrations are in Southern West Virginia," he said, "but also the Eastern Panhandle has a high concentration."

The Eastern Panhandle has seen a great influx of population, with many Washington, D.C., suburbanites moving into the region. Beakes believes that because the region "is a very transitional area," it has been hard to track voters."

But he also concedes that it has been a hard task for all county clerks.

"I just think it's been very difficult to purge lists in the past because there hasn't been a centralized list," he said.

Beakes' office will send its results to all 55 county clerks, who are charged with the actual purging of the voting records.

"Given the tools [county clerks] have had, they have done a pretty good job of it," he said. "This will be a big tool for them."

Before the May primary election, West Virginia had 1,130,008 registered voters, with Democrats comprising 57 percent of them.

Beakes said the purging process will continue for the next several months. His office hopes to obtain records from the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles and the U.S. Social Security Administration to use in a similar fashion. They also plan to use the U.S. Post Office's National Change of Address system and purge felons from the lists.


New-fangled voting by Ed Quillen


Denver Post Staff Columnist

August 11, 2006 — There was no reason for me to vote in Tuesday's primary election in Chaffee County, since there were no contested Democratic seats. All the action was on the Republican ballot, where six candidates were contending for the nomination in the 5 th Congressional District.

The 5 th has never elected a Democrat in its 35 years of existence, and this one-party history provoked some talk among area Democrats. We have a fine candidate, Jay Fawcett, but he has no realistic chance of winning unless the Republican is caught in bed with a dead girl or live boy.

So, one could change party registration to vote in the Republican primary, where you pick the best of the lot. In this case, the best looked like John Anderson—not the gerrymandering former state senator (that's John Andrews), but a former sheriff of El Paso County.

I didn't go along with this party-switching idea—and since Anderson finished next to last, it wasn't a popular notion—but I did have a chance to vote for him Tuesday, thanks to the wonders of modern technology. On its first trial, the new electronic voting device gave me the wrong ballot.

Technology has presumably evolved since my first election as a working journalist in Grand County in 1974. They used hand-counted paper ballots. A couple of races that went down to the wire; the wire, in this case, was the Hot Sulphur Springs precinct where the judges didn't finish counting until about 3 in the morning. It was a long night.

Four years later, I lived in Chaffee County, which had voting machines. The returns were always in before 7:30 PM on election night. The county eventually replaced those with paper ballots, which were electronically scanned at each precinct. If the ballot didn't scan properly, you could try again.

This seemed like a great system, since it took advantage of modern technology for counting while preserving a paper trail. But it went awry and produced some bad results in the last municipal election.

From what I read, the system worked fine at a polling place, where the ballots were not folded. But in the mail-in elections, where the ballots were folded to be mailed before they could be scanned, the scanners ran into trouble.

So we got a new and improved election system, and Tuesday was its first trial. Since the Democratic primary here had no contests, I figured it would be a good opportunity to try the new system so I'd be prepared in November when it did matter.

The first element to dislike was the location. Like many other counties, Chaffee has moved to "vote centers" rather than the traditional precincts. The polling place for Precinct 2 is across the street from my house. The new vote center is four blocks away—thereby at least quintupling the amount of time and travel involved in getting to the polls.

When I got there, they wanted to see my driver's license—which seemed odd, since the election judge was a neighbor who greeted me by name. What's the point of living in a little town where people know you if you still have to show identification to perform a basic act of citizenship?

After I checked in, I had to show the license again to another judge at another table. Then, finally, to the new electronic voting machine.

I got my code number and some instructions—basically, this is not a touch screen, you have to turn the dial and press enter. After a short wait, I settled into my machine, punched in my code, and got the Republican ballot for Precinct 15 rather than the Democratic ballot for Precinct 2.

There was my chance to vote for John Anderson without the hassle of changing party registration. Not that it would have made any difference, as things turned out, but an impulse for honesty took hold, and I told the judge that I had the wrong ballot. He pored through his instruction manual, printed me a new code number, and then I could honestly vote in the irrelevant Democratic primary.

And I gained some familiarity with the new electronic system. That is, I now have good reason not to trust it at all.


Ed Quillen of Salida ( is a former newspaper editor whose column appears Tuesday and Sunday.


CNN's Lou Dobbs: Report exposes Cuyahoga County, Ohio, May primary e-voting debacle


CNN Transcripts

Transcript of Democracy at Risk segment from August 16, 2006.

DOBBS: This broadcast, as you know, has been reporting extensively on what is being called an electronic voting machine debacle in the Ohio special election. A new report shows problems with e-voting machines in that election were even worse than election officials first thought. And amazingly, some election officials still believe the machines actually performed well.

What's worse? Those machines and ones like them will be used all over again all around the country for the upcoming midterm elections in just 12 weeks.

Kitty Pilgrim reports


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The May primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, using Diebold electronic voting machines was a debacle. The Election Science Institute, independent researchers commissioned by the county, found damning evidence that the electronic voting machines had major problems.

STEVE HERTZBERG, ELECTION SCIENCE INSTITUTE: We're missing data. We're missing critical components within the election. The board of elections cannot find it, and we believe that that is probably the greatest issue we're facing in this election. What are equivalent to what might be ballots in ballot boxes in the old days now turned into ones and zeroes.

PILGRIM: The report found the machine's four sources of vote totals, individual ballots, paper trail summary, election archives, and the memory cards, did not all match up. The totals were all different.

The report concludes, "These shortcomings merit urgent attention. Relying on the system in its present state should be viewed as a calculated risk."

But the secretary of state of Ohio, Kenneth Blackwell, is still in denial. His office saying today, "The machines work. There is nothing wrong with the machines."

That is not what the report concludes. "The current election system, if left unchanged, contains significant threats. One likely result is diminished public confidence in a close election."

Cuyahoga County has, at last count, more than 1.3 million people, the most populous county in Ohio, including the city of Cleveland. It represents a critical mass of voters. But the report says the situation may not be resolved by the November election this year or even the 2008 presidential election.

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: There's a lot of work to be done in Cuyahoga County. I hope that it can be accomplished. But we have to be very, very careful, because everybody expects that their vote's going to count.

PILGRIM: The secretary of state's office today blamed poll workers for not carrying out procedures properly. Diebold has said the same thing, blaming human error.

The county board of elections says they need to get to the bottom of this. They want the authors of the report, the scientists to sit down with Diebold and agree on what went wrong. They will then take measures to fix the problems.

And the scientists welcome that opportunity. They say it's important for the entire country that this issue is resolved — Lou.

DOBBS: For the entire democracy. And just about 12 weeks remaining in which to do so. Kitty, thank you very much.


Wisconsin: Primary election plagued by computer problems by John Washburn


© 2006 Vote Trust USA, Voting Technology Task Force

September 18, 2006 — Wisconsin held its 2006 federal primary on September 12, 2006. As usual on election night election officials stated that everything went smoothly. But, even with these election night assurances the reality is there are 3 counties in Wisconsin with reported troubles. The counties are Winnebago County (which contains the City of Oshkosh), Waukesha County, and Milwaukee County.

Winnebago County


In Winnebago County the blended system of Diebold AccuVote OS optical scanners and Diebold AccuVote TSx DREs did not integrate as advertised. The main technical problem is the 2 sets of components to the blended system do not actually blend. Fidlar Election Company is the Diebold representative in Winnebago County. Fidlar stated a product called the "accumulator" would allow the two technologies to "blend" and produce precinct-level reporting of candidate totals.

There are two problems with the "accumulator" product sold in Winnebago County. The first problem is technical. The accumulator does not exist or at least is not available for sale. The second problem is a legal one. Wisconsin has not certified the use any Diebold system using the "accumulator" so even if the accumulator were delivered by November 7, 2006, state law would prohibits its use. Using uncertified voting systems is violation of Wisconsin statute WI 5.40(2). The matter of the possible fraud of selling this system has been turned over to the County Counsel for Winnebago County. County Supervisor Jef Hall is also following up by proposing a resolution to hold back a portion of the payment to Diebold equal to the overtime required to hand count the votes the "accumulator" vaporware could not accumulate.

Waukesha County


In Waukesha County the blended system of Sequoia Edge DREs and BRC/ES&S/Sequoia Optech Eagle IIIP scanners did not blend as expected. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article focused on how inexpedient the system is without interoperable equipment. Buried in the article are the following gems:

• [County Clerk] Nickolaus and her staff resorted to correcting the city's results manually - a process that continued until 1 a.m

• Waukesha City Clerk Thomas Neill said city officials had been unable to test the county's program for reporting results because they were busy readying their touch-screen voting machines. Those machines arrived just a week ago, Neill said, adding that the new equipment turned out to be inoperable Tuesday. [Such testing is required by Wisconsin state statute WI 5.84]

• Computer glitches, inoperable equipment and other problems troubled Tuesday's primary balloting in Waukesha County, resulting in one candidate mistakenly being posted as winner of a race only later to be declared the loser.

To date Ms. Nicklaus has refused to explain the nature of the interoperability defects, exactly how the results were updated by hand or how the candidate went from winning to losing after the corrections. Many in the area are asking the obvious question what happened between 8:00 pm Tuesday and after 1:00 am Wednesday?

Milwaukee County


The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County have three reported problems to date which seem unrelated. The system used in Milwaukee is the blended system of ES&S AutoMark and BRC/ES&S/Sequoia Optech Eagle IIIP scanners.

The first reported problem is the two system components failed to blend as advertised. In this case the ballot for which the AutoMark were a different size than the ballots used for the Optech scanners. This interoperability problem was know to the City Election commission. The "solution" was to place every AutoMark'ed ballot into the segregation box for ballots with write in candidates. At the end of the night the AutoMark'ed ballots would be recreated on an Optech ballot using the procedures described in statute for an absentee ballot which a scanner will not read. The second Optech ballot would then be fed into the scanner to contribute to the ballot totals. The problem reported early in the day was the AutoMark ballots were mistakenly given to general voters who then marked a ballot which the Optech scanner would not accept.

The second problem is the number of ballots cast for a polling location hosting more than one ward printed the total of ballots cast for all wards in the location as the number of ballots cast in each ward. Thus a location with 3 wards of 10, 20 and 30 ballots cast for wards 1, 2, and 3, would print an end of day report stating 60 ballots were cast for ward 1, 60 ballots for ward 2, 60 ballots for ward 3. That the simplest statistic on the report (number of ballots scanned) was in error, was seen no reason to doubt the more complicated calculations on the poll tapes (e.g. number of votes in the primary race for County Sheriff). The error was then propagated to the central municipal Unity software when the memory packs were uploaded. This prompted a hand recounting of the total number of ballots for each ward which as of today is not yet complete.

The third problem is a video-taped documentation that the Optech Eagle in the combined location (wards 258, 259, and 265) displayed 586 total ballots cast for the three wards, printed 576 total ballots cast for the three wards, and the poll books show 588 ballots distributed to electors (absentee or in-person). Clearly, the Optech Eagle has at least two counters (one for the LED display) and one for the printed tape report. It is fascinating these two machine counters were not consistent.


Election fraud alive and well in Santa Ana (Orange County) California


October 30, 2006 —According to news services reports twelve people have been charged with tricking voters in Orange County, California, into registering as Republicans. Prosecutors said the defendants were accused of fraudulently registering 37 voters as Republicans from August 2005 to February 2006.

Democrats, Green Party members, and a noncitizen were registered as Republicans. The suspects were hired by private firms paid by the Orange County Republican Party according to prosecutors.

Question: How many Republicans does it take to form a conspiracy?


Election judges grapple with new voting machines by Katy Human


© 2006

Election judges work longer hours with electronic voting and don't understand the technology

November 2, 2006 — Halloween night, the star trainee at a session for Denver election judges was 8-year-old Star Garcia, who wore sparkly cat ears and a black mask.

Star' s grandmother, Helen Garcia, 68, and two other adults stood in front of one of Denver' s newest voting computers pondering how to activate it.

Star walked around back. "Right here," said the catgirl. "It' s that yellow button."

The computer screen lit up and the adults laughed.

Training sessions in Jefferson and Denver counties this week showed that although some judges are comfortable with computerized voting machines, others are baffled.

Many of the judges are retired and trying to learn new technologies, often after years of working all-paper elections.

"I've reached my saturation point," said Pat Gressett, 77, after more than an hour working with the new computers.

The Denver Election Commission trained the last of its 1,100 election judges Wednesday.

Jefferson County will finish working with 1,250 judges by Saturday. Training in all of Colorado' s 64 counties will finish by Monday.

For a shift that is likely to run 14 hours or more Election Day, the judges will each be paid about $100.

The work will take an hour or two longer than in the past because of new computerized voting machines and new election security requirements.

Addressing a crowd of about 125 volunteers in a Jefferson County Fairgrounds building Wednesday, county election director Susan Miller warned that people shouldn't drift into a polling place at 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. as they have in the past.

"You need to get there by 6 this time," Miller said. "You can bring something to read, but I doubt you'll get a chance to use it."

Extra security seals and chain-of-custody requirements mean more steps and more paperwork for election officials, she said, especially when opening and closing polls.

Election trainers this week flew through details that judges will need to know Election Day.

They described the oath everyone will take, how and when to break and replace security seals, and how to set up voting computers and make sure no one has yet voted on them.

"You' re going to make mistakes," said Denver trainer Sal Troici, 74. "Great. Make them here."

Denver' s training is complicated, Troici said, because judges need to learn two types of computerized machines - old-style Advantages, made by Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., and that company's newer Edges.

The Advantages are giant screens, displaying the entire ballot on a panel about 3 feet by 3 feet. Tiny lights indicate a voter' s choices.

Edges are newer, more like personal computers and, trainees said, more complicated. Voters should be reminded to scroll through all 11 pages of the ballot, Troici said.

"I want one of them old machines," said Denise Thompson, who has worked in several past elections.

Troici insisted his judges overcome such fears.

He pulled new judge Barbara Cirivello, 66, to a machine and asked her to bring up ballot style No. 14.

Cirivello shook her head in confusion.

"Try something," Troici urged. "Don't be afraid, it will tell you if you' re making a mistake or not."


Staff writer Katy Human can be reached at 303-954-1910 or



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| Chapter 12 — Voting Problems In The 2006 Elections |

| Next — My Day At The Polls — Baltimore, Maryland Primary 2006 by Avi Rubin |

| Back — Daily Voting News For June 7, 2006 by John Gideon |


Added July 24, 2006

Last updated 6/14/09