From the Miami Herald:

Tiny town could be Waterloo for vote machines

. . . Randy Wooten, owner of Randy’s Karaoke Bar out on Highway 14 and one of three mayoral candidates, received no votes. Not even his own.

”He voted for himself. I watched him,” said Roxanne Wooten, the candidate’s wife. ”I was standing right behind him. And then I voted for him,” she told me Monday.

Neither vote registered on the ES&S machine. Poinsett County election official insisted that their touch-screen machines were working just fine, that Waldenburg’s improbable undervote was due to “operator error.”

Not hardly, said Roxanne Wooten. She said, “I noticed that the machine was acting jumpy.”

But she made sure she voted for her husband. It was the one vote that mattered.

Randy’s two opponents split 36 votes. He came up empty.


Voting officials in Poinsett County, Arkansas, have the same problem as their counterparts in 15 of Florida’s largest counties. They’ve spent a huge amount of taxpayer money for unreliable voting machines, and now they’ve got to defend the damn things or look like fools.

”Imagine if the 13th congressional race [won by 360 votes – with 18,000 votes missing] had been as important as the Virginia Senate race ended up being. The country would have had a major crisis,” said Avi Rubin, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University and the author of Brave New Ballot, The Battle to Safeguard Democracy in the Age of Electronic Voting.

In January, civic activist Kindra Muntz started a petition drive toward a referendum to force Sarasota County to revert to a paper ballot system. (Not a paper trail or a paper receipt linked to the same wormy touch-screen software, she insisted, but a paper ballot system.)

She succeeded, despite a lawsuit filed by Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb, who has demonstrated more interest in protecting the voting machine vendors’ reputation than voters’ intent.


The referendum passed with 55 percent of the vote. This week, Sarasota Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent, up to her ears in this voting mess, said she would comply with the voters’ wishes to junk touch-screens.

Maybe Sarasota’s uprising will inspire voters in Broward, Miami-Dade and other Florida counties stuck with touch-screen machines.

At least two voters in Waldenburg have lost their confidence in high-tech voting. ”If Randy had received just two votes, instead of zero, nobody would have said anything,” Roxanne said.

What would have happened, I asked, if those dubious machines had given him just one vote. She laughed. ‘Well, then I’d be in trouble. I’d probably have been divorced by now.”

☞ Click here to tell Congress to make election reform a top priority. Congressman Rush Holt’s bill, HR 550, requiring paper trails and other safeguards, needs to be made law.


But look at this sampling of dirty deeds:

  • Handing out a flier in black neighborhoods labeling the Republican candidates “Democrat” and showing them endorsed by black leaders who had, in fact, not endorsed them.  This was for a Senate race – it could have determined control of the entire Senate, had it succeeded – and its cynicism was really kind of breathtaking.  As the Washington Post reported, black homeless Philadelphians, desperate to earn some cash, were bussed to Maryland, and given campaign T-shirts to wear and these fliers to hand out – for the “Democrats.”
  • Phoning Virginians registered elsewhere as well (which is legal so long as you don’t vote in more than one state) to warn that they would be charged criminally if they came in to vote.
  • Claiming that Illinois Democratic Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, who had lost both legs in Iraq, favored extending Social Security benefits to illegal aliens.  Untrue, of course.  But this mailing – sent out by the National Republican Congressional Committee to appear to be from the Social Security Administration – helped beat her by fewer than 5,000 votes.

☞ In Chicago, a half century ago, dead people voted for Jack Kennedy.  But one really gets the sense that the dirty dancing, and Watergate bugging and the rest, are not evenly distributed across the political spectrum.


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