Saturday, November 01, 2008

Will Your Vote Count?

These are exciting times with the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election only a few days away. Many voters have been able to take advantage of early voting and others have already mailed an absentee ballot. Each state seems to have different rules, guidelines or provisions for early voting. For example, here in Los Angeles County where I live there are a very limited number of early voting sites and none very close to my city. When I've listened to news accounts of those voting early in the city to which I would have to go, the lines have been described as long, sometimes requiring standing in line for two or more hours.

Recently I learned the absentee ballots mailed in before the election here in L.A. County California are counted first as I had been concerned about that process. In fact, as someone commented on that matter on another blog in response to my raising that question, their experience working in an election precinct in their home state (unnamed) had been like the concern I described. Absentee ballots were counted last or not at all if the election wasn't close. I just wanted to know my vote got counted if I voted absentee as my husband did for many years.

Especially this year I didn't want my ballot left in a box somewhere that might conveniently "get lost." That former election volunteer writer suggested we each needed to check our own state and county election rules also. We might want to familiarize ourselves with the voting processes and ballot counting where each of us lives since there can be such a variance. Ask your election officials or call the election office just for your own edification, to let them know you are keeping track of what happens to ballots, however and whenever the vote is cast. Also, this information can help us determine exactly how we might want to vote in all future elections, not just important Presidential ones.

Actually, I decided to follow my usual pattern and vote at my designated voting place on the traditional election day, the first Tuesday of November which falls on the 4th this year. I'm curious to see who the election staff is, how efficient the operation is, what the turn out is like when I'm there and what sort of wait I have, if any, before I can enter a voting booth. Rarely ever have I had to wait, and then only five minutes or less at the most.

In L. A. County we use the Ink-a-vote system. We adopted this system after considerable concerns with the reliability of various computer systems. I've been feeling pretty confident this was a wise move until the touch screen computer voting system is determined to be more trust worthy. I'd not read about any major problems with our current temporary Ink-a-vote system, but I just thought I'd look this up on the Internet. This is the informative web site I located which provides information about most states for the purpose of educating the public. VerifiedVotingFoundation.org's mission statement follows:

"The Verified Voting Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization championing reliable and publicly verifiable elections. Founded by Stanford University Computer Science Professor David Dill, the organization supports a requirement for voter-verified paper ballots (VVPBs) on electronic voting machines allowing voters to verify individual permanent records of their ballots and election officials to conduct meaningful recounts. The Verified Voting Foundation is the recognized leader of the nationwide grassroots movement for VVPBs and verifiable elections..."

They have a section about a voting system company "Election Systems and Software" (ES&S) you may be interested to learn states "The company's products can be found in more than 1,700 voting jurisdictions in 47 US states and Canada." Also of interest are some reported malfunctions of their machines in France and New Jersey.

On the VVF site was this section titled
"ElectionAudit.org -- The nation's clearinghouse for election audit information."

They revealed the ES&S company is the manufacturer of L.A. County's Ink-a-vote system "...as well as the iVotronic systems that made news in Sarasota, Florida in 2006..." Also of note is the company has submitted a new system for California's approval. VVF's ElectionAudit page notes: "ES&S systems were also considered by Ohio’s study last year, which found a variety of security problems."

I'm not suggesting we will experience voting problems with this 2008 Presidential Election. But I must admit I believe a better part of wisdom is for all voters to make themselves aware of the system in which they cast their votes, how they're tabulated and how any needed recount could accurately be conducted. This may be one source we can access to be informed so our votes in any election do not become disenfranchised by default.

11 comments:

  1. Ooooops - the election is Tuesday, November 4!

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  2. Great post -- as always!

    We had problems with voting in Ohio in 2004 and there are some now. I've blogged about it recently.

    I hope people here pay attention to the ads one of the law firms here has been running on TV about provisional ballots.

    The founder of the is the president of our City Council and they have set up a hot line to call before casting a provisional ballot.

    I wrote the number down in case I need it. Since I don't live in a black precinct, I'm probably okay but I don't think anyone can be too careful with this precious right.

    The McCain campaign is getting desperate as is the Republican party -- they want to keep riding the gravy train they've made.

    I got a call asking me to come make calls for Obama this weekend -- even if only for an hour. I might just do it if I can work it in.

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  3. I think there should be a National standard for voting in a National election. The method of voting should be the one with the least margin for errors and adopted by all the states.

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  4. Thanks to Anon for noting in my original post (now corrected) the correct date for election day.

    Kay: That's a good point about voters using provisional ballots as a last resort if they are wrongly denied their right to vote on election day.

    The news I'm receiving in California is that Obama's opponents, McCain & Palin, are desperately pulling out all the stops, resorting to increased distortion of many of Obama's positions, making even more outlandish statements about what Obama will do if elected and basically using exaggerated scare tactics so characteristic of how the current administration ran previous election campaigns. Hope Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and voters elsewhere seek the truth of Obama's positions.

    Darlene: Having an election standard for national elections sounds like a good idea if we can be absolutely certain it's designed for secure voting accuracy.

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  5. I agree with the need for a national standard. The laws should have called for that years ago.

    We voted last Monday, along with more than a million others in NC.

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  6. I'm waiting to vote on the day and everyone else in my family has voted early. I'll have camera in hand to record anything I need to. I have tagged sites and information for voting irregularities as I, too, am concerned about having my vote count.

    Voting Irregularities in Santa Fe, New Mexico highlight why you should never vote straight party (your vote might not count).
    here's the link on Santa Fe...

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  7. motherpie: Thanks for that Santa Fe link. The 15-17 states listed as still allowing straight party voting are among some of those most in contention.

    Hope if others reading all this are aware of other cautions about which we voters need to be aware that they
    will add the information here.

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  8. What a learning experience this election cycle has been.
    We voted early, and even in out of the way Hawaii, there were fair numbers of voters.
    Where we live there has been no campaigning for Obama or McCain. Obama will probably win Hawaii by 90%, so why bother? The mayoral race is hotly contested, however.
    The League and others worked to get a paper trail bill passed for Hawaii. I don't know whether it has been implemented yet.

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  9. What a learning experience this election cycle has been.
    We voted early, and even in out of the way Hawaii, there were fair numbers of voters.
    Where we live there has been no campaigning for Obama or McCain. Obama will probably win Hawaii by 90%, so why bother? The mayoral race is hotly contested, however.
    The League and others worked to get a paper trail bill passed for Hawaii. I don't know whether it has been implemented yet.

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  10. Sorry about the double posting.

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  11. Due to my Health Issues, I have to vote Absentee Ballot. So, I voted two weeks ago last Monday....And I am so happy to know that our votes here in L.A. County are COUNTED FIRST! Hooray!

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