things that could go wrong on election day

4 11 2008

Last week I read an article in TIME Magazine called 7 Things That Could Go Wrong on Election Day, and it surprised me with how unorganized our national election process is.  I’m going to mention a few points from the article (plus my take on it, of course).

For starters, there are hundreds of thousands of mismatched voters (sometimes even in just a single state), and those potential errors on the database could lead to fraudulent votes.  This could be cleaned up (and the IT corporation I previously worked for already has the tools to do it, plus the database).

The states also have differing rules of who can vote.  For example, a convicted felon can vote in Maine, but not in Virginia.  And the requirements of voting vary by state also.  In Indiana, a government-issued photo ID is required, but it’s not in New York.  In Pennsylvania, first-time voters can use a firearm permit or a utility bill to identify themselves, and longtime voters don’t have to show anything at all.  That sounds like a recipe for fraudulent voting!  Also note that illegal immigrants could have a utility bill, so they might get to vote, when they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

The political parties are allowed to create their own absentee ballot forms, and some are poorly designed.  Some of them even included a useless checkbox, and sometimes votes are rejected because of trivialities like that.  That kind of stuff smells fishy to me.  Why doesn’t the government design one form for voting, and everyone has to use that same form, so it is fair and accurate?  I don’t think you can trust either the Republicans or the Democrats to be entirely unbiased in creating those forms.  Why a party is allowed to design their own national voting form, I have no idea…

Not all voting locations use the same machines.  In fact, only about one-thirds of voters will use electronic machines for voting.  And those machines aren’t all the same, either.  Some of them are known to malfunction, even in ways that can cause the selection of one candidate to show as the vote for another!  If those kinds of errors are known, those machines should not be allowed at all!  Also, some of the voting machines don’t make a paper printout nor do they have any backup.  So if the hard drive fails or the system crashes, votes would be lost.  And there would be no way to recount those votes.  There’s no excuse for that!

Actually, there is a congressional deadline to replace lever machines and punch-card ballots.  But here’s the ironic part — the deadline passed in 2006, yet 11 million people will be using those machines this year.  So much for the deadline…

There are even more potential problems that I haven’t mentioned.  You can follow the link above to read the article if you care to research this further.

I find it amazing that in 2008, with all the technology and resources our country has, that the voting is this disorganized and unsecure.  We know there are groups actively trying to vote fraudulently, yet there isn’t much security in some places.  I wrote about an example I saw in my hometown when I voted early last week.  Why aren’t the workers more trained, and why aren’t there standards to ensure that people vote only once and that only legal citizens get to vote?  Is our government this inept at conducting an election?  Or are some of these “back doors” for fraud intentionally left open?  Either way, these issues should be resolved before 2012.  There’s no excuse…

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One response

5 11 2008
Thomas Wayne

You forgot to mention the biggest thing that could go wrong on election day: Obama winning!

DOH!

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