Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WATCHING THE COUNT

Brad Blog - The website of the Ohio Secretary of State is being set to "static mode" following a recent series of security breach attempts, as well as suspicious packages and a number of death threats sent to the office. . . The threats against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office come in the wake of a rash of recent burglaries and vandalism at ACORN offices in Massachusetts and Seattle, as well as death threats delivered to a number of their workers following much-hyped media reports of "voter fraud" by the community organization. . . The recent threats against Brunner and her office follow on criticism from state Republicans, who have launched a number of legal suits against her during the final weeks leading up to this November's election...

Fire Dog Lake - Early voters in North Carolina, most of whom were black, were heckled and mocked by McCain supporters as they their cast their ballots Sunday. According to Washington Times reporter Christina Bellatoni primarily white McCain supporters shouted "terrorist" and complained that "Sundays are for church not voting". . . Also at the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in. Nearly all were white. And in Fayettville, NC someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside the Crown Coliseum on Sunday during a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, authorities said.

Huffington Post - People lined up to be among the first to vote at several early voting sites around Jacksonville Monday morning had an extra long wait and some left frustrated when machines at several locations refused to record the ballots. . . The Duval County elections office confirmed problems with voting machines at the Gateway Shopping Center and libraries on Edgewood Avenue, at Regency Square and Webb Wesconnett. Channel 4 heard from voters experiencing problems at other polling places, as well.

True Vote - Expressing outrage, Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes called "completely unwarranted" the Oct. 17 complaint filed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and others against the Department of State regarding voter registration processes, and noted that Pennsylvania is ready to conduct a fair, accurate, accessible and secure election. . . Cortes said the meritless suit seeks to have the Department of State implement voter registration and data verification processes that are already in place and have been used by the state and counties for several years. He also noted the lawsuit has the detrimental effect of diverting valuable human and financial resources that could be better used for election-related activities. "These accusations against the Department of State and the counties are shameful and are an attack on our democracy. Making outright false accusations about the integrity of the electoral process is a very dangerous practice and has no value other than to instill fear. The charges are just another effort to suppress participation in the very foundation of American democracy -- the right to vote.

Tallahassee Democrat
Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho has reported that ballots at the Woodville and Northeast branches are not being read properly. The problem, he said, rests with a new machine that has been purchased for polling sites throughout the state. The machine, deemed the OSX, has what Sancho called a sensitivity problem. "Certain ballots are being rejected across the state," he said. "The machine is too sensitive for differing lengths." If the machine reads the ballot card as too long, the OSX machine will simply not read the card

David Earnhardt Producer/director/writer, "Uncounted" - My wife, Patricia Earnhardt, had an early voting experience here in Nashville, Tennessee, where she saw her vote momentarily flip from Barack Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. She voted on a touch-screen paperless machine. Here is her story:

"A poll worker directed me to a touch screen voting machine and instructed me how to use it. I touched "Obama" for president and nothing lit up. I touched 2 or 3 more times and still nothing lit up. I called the poll worker back over to tell him I was having a problem. He said I just needed to touch it more lightly. I tried it 2 or 3 more times more lightly with the poll worker watching & still nothing lit up. The poll worker then touched it for me twice - nothing lit up. The third time he touched the Obama button, the Cynthia McKinney space lit up. The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button. The poll worker just kind of laughed and cancelled the vote. He hit the Obama button again and it finally lit up. I continued on to cast the rest of my votes. After completing the process and reviewing my votes, I went to the Vote page, hit the Vote button and nothing happened. Again after several tries, I called the poll worker over and he finally got the machine to register my votes. . . I left the polling place feeling uncertain."

I had similar problems with the machine I was voting on that same day, although no vote flipping. I would touch the screen numerous times before I could get my various candidate choices to light up. It was strange and very frustrating. When I finally got through my slate of candidate choices, I could not get the Vote button to light up when I touched it. I finally called over a poll worker and he told me that I needed to touch lightly. I touched the Vote button more lightly, but was only able to get it to work after several more failed attempts.

Houston Chronicle, TX - Thousands of area voters trooped to the polls this morning for the first day of early balloting. The result was part exercise in statesmanship, part circus. But it clearly seemed a day few of the participants would forget. As of 1 p.m., Harris County early voting totals had already surpassed the first-day total in 2004 of 20,868, according to the County Clerk's office. Lines began forming long before the polls opened at 8 a.m., and tempers ran short at a few locations as glitches caused delays in the process. Harris County election officials said the problems were not widespread and were being resolved. Among the problems was a malfunction in the machines that scan voters' identification at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, where about 300 people stood in line waiting to cast ballots this morning.

Cincinnati Enquirer - In Hamilton County, 17 people are registered to vote from riverfront addresses south of Mehring Way - places with street numbers that would put their homes somewhere in the Ohio River. Another 46 voters are registered at addresses that would put their homes in the middle of the Paul Brown Stadium parking lot, or at the riverfront project known as The Banks - which hasn't been built.

An Enquirer analysis of more than 8 million Ohio voter registration records found a litany of quirks, inconsistencies, errors, duplicate registrations and other problems with little more than two weeks until Election Day. Thousands of voters appear on registration lists twice - some as many as six times. At least 589 registered voters - mostly in Franklin and Cuyahoga counties - were born in 1991 or later, which puts them under the legal voting age. Voters are registered at post office boxes, office buildings with no residences, police stations and even park benches.

New Mexican - Turnout was heavy at polling sites in Santa Fe and Albuquerque as early voting started Saturday. In fact, waiting times were so long at a south-side Santa Fe location that some people who wanted to cast their ballots ahead of the Nov. 4 election gave up and left.

And people who tried to vote downtown at the Santa Fe County administration building on Grant Avenue found the front doors locked Saturday and a sign posted that blamed the Secretary of State's Office for misinformation mailed to voters about that site.

Workers ran out of pens at the packed voting site at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds, where some voters waited for more than hour Saturday morning to cast ballots. . .

Espinoza said a brochure sent to 90,000 voters in Santa Fe County by Secretary of State Mary Herrera's office mistakenly told voters the downtown building that houses the County Clerk's Office was open for early voting Saturday. . . Frustrated would-be voters were greeted by a yellow sign posted on the downtown building that stated: "We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by the Secretary of State who may be reached at 827-3600."

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