I Mostly Agree With Kemp On This.

Newly appointed SoS Brian Kemp has come out against a bill to replace banning paperless voting systems. The bill has since been dropped. Kemp said…

“Requiring county and local governments to implement new voting systems in this fiscal year, when every local and state agency is making significant budget cuts, would be too much of a financial burden.

However, I look forward to working with the sponsors to discuss their ideas for Georgia’s next generation elections equipment.”

Personally I don’t care about getting a piece of paper after I vote, and I don’t buy into thought by some that our voting machines can be easily manipulated. After talking with a couple of elections experts I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

That being said, I would have much preferred that former SoS Cathy Cox had pushed a bill to allow counties to pick from a list of approved voting systems rather than force the entire state to purchase one system she picked. But, what’s done is done and any change will be expensive, no matter when it’s done.

31 comments

  1. ready2rumble says:

    Austin Scott thinks it’s a good idea. With all the challenges we currently have in the budget he thinks this is how we should spend tax payor dollars.

    • polisavvy says:

      The purpose of the bill was to provide a paper trial. In the normal course of elections, there would be no need for a paper trial; however, in the event of an extremely tight race (i.e., Minnesota), the paper ballots counted along with the machine re-tally could be a guaranteed accurate count and could cut down the risk of people demanding recount after recount (i.e., Minnesota). The cost would not have been that great since most counties already have a scantron-type machine in their possession for the use of counting absentee ballots and early voting.

  2. Mozart says:

    “After talking with a couple of elections experts I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

    Yeah…were these Diebold-connected “experts”, Buzz?

    • A couple of Diebold salesman. 🙂

      Of course not. Real live elections experts who actually run elections here in Georgia.

      There are safeguards in place that prevent electronic stealing of votes. It would take a massive conspiracy to pull it off, even for a local election.

    • Republican Lady says:

      Redundancy needs to be built into very critical system and I do not believe any system is failsafe. Computers lockup, fail, and no system is completely hackproof. Even the Department of Defense admits that a hacker broken in approximately eight years ago and changed the home page.

      So incorporate a redundant system and we are set to vote.

  3. Game Fan says:

    The whole “I fail to see” which some might consider a red flag. It’s like the proverbial “expert” who’s been mailed dozens of reports but doesn’t actually read them. Then turns around and says, “I have no knowledge of…” 🙂

  4. NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

    What was wrong with the optical scanner system we had before? You had a paper trail, and the machine let you know if the ballot was unable to be counted before you even left. If you could connect the arrow, you could vote.

    • benevolus says:

      There’s nothing wrong with the optical scan system. We still use it for absentee and provisional ballots, so we even already have a lot of the machines. Not only that, every school uses them for tests. I wonder if we could recruit theirs on election day to keep costs down.

  5. NonPartisanGA says:

    How many pundits here actually know enough about the subject to make reasoned informed decisions about what is involved to implement this change and more importantly the cost of this unfunded mandate on counties?

    It’s one thing to pontificate about political strategy and electability, but most hardly any at PP knows enough about the technical and operational aspects of elections systems, to reach anything but shoot from the hip conclusions or recite the “chicken little” mantra of “tin foil hat” activists.

    At 2% in the polls Austin Scott had to do something for attention and who knows what the other co-sponsors were thinking. If the legislature is foolish enough to jam this unnecessary, unwarranted and expensive change down the throats of counties that are already cutting services and furloughing staff there will be a huge backlash from county officials and electors.

    If the typical PP “elections expert” wired their house the way they speculated on elections systems solutions, it would go up in flames.

    • polisavvy says:

      Just so I understand exactly what you’re implying, you are basically saying that since Austin Scott is running for Governor that he should just lie down and not do anything. If he has a good idea or thinks that a bill should be introduced, you say that it’s all for political show. Has it even dawned on you that he is just doing what he was elected to do and that is look out for the good of the State? He’s in a damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t situation. He did not walk away from his elected position. He’s proposed some pretty good ideas out there that could benefit us. How is what he’s proposing so bad? As other posters have suggested, there are scantron or optical scanners in almost every county in the State, so where it all this huge expense you are alleging?

  6. Lawton Sack says:

    I recommend people volunteer to work at the place their County tallies the votes. I had the privilege to do so in Bulloch County for the 2008 Presidential election.

    A few points that I observed:

    1. “Scantron” machines –> This is a tremendously slow process. Bulloch County had two machines and one broke after a couple of ballots were run through it. Somebody has to sit there and feed them in one by one. The machine spits out the ballots that are mismarked, which then have to be visually analyzed to see why they were rejected. A Republican official and a Democrat official have to look over these rejected ballots to make a determination of who a person was voting for, if any.

    2. There are already paper rolls in the machines. At the close of the election, the machines are locked and the results, usually broken out by Precinct, are printed out onto paper rolls. They are signed off on by Republican and Democrat officials. These are funny to look at, as each write-in vote is on there. A lot of “None of the above” and “Mickey Mouse” votes are cast. More than a few cuss words, too. I don’t know how much more effort it would be to add a button for voters to press to print out a paper record if they so choose.

    3. There are a lot of volunteers and low paid staffers that are watching over these elections. The people in Bulloch County took this extremely seriously. If you are worried about the integrity of the process, sit up there with them until midnight or later. Talk with them. See what is going on.

    4. At least in Bulloch County, the machines were under watchful eyes at all times. There were security and deputies there the whole time. I was more worried about the absentee ballots than I was about the electronic voting machines.

    Something to consider.

    • Part-Time Atlanta says:

      You make a good point. There is a higher chance for fraud to take place at the absentee ballot level than on the actual machines.

    • benevolus says:

      I beg to differ.
      I have been appointed by my Party to count rejected ballots and have observed the process closely.

      1. Feeding the ballots through one by one is not slow at all. Scantron claims 30-40 forms per minute. The math is pretty easy to figure out how many machines each precinct should have to keep the process from being too drawn out. I can’t imagine it would be any more than the machines it takes now to cast the votes.

      At least there are rejected ballots to analyze! As it is now, if anything goes wrong- bad card, bad memory, any number of possible faults- there is little chance of recovering the votes.

      We already look at rejected absentee and provisional ballots, so the system/process is already in place. It would just likely be a larger quantity to look at. So what. We can handle that.

      2. The paper printers in the machine aren’t much help. Let’s say you thought your printout was incorrect. It is unclear whether there can be a way to go back into the machine and void the last ballot cast and then let you vote again. And how do you even make that work logistically? Does each voter get one challenge and one challenge only? Otherwise, Andre might stand there all day challenging the printout. Besides that, there are other parts of the process that are just as vulnerable to glitches. The compiling of the votes from all the machines at the precinct, as well as the central tabulation are both subject to data corruption or errors that cannot be accurately fixed.

      3. The volunteers and low-paid staffers can’t see into the machines. There are endless stories of poll workers cutting corners because it was late and they want to go home. I was a poll watcher once, and the precinct supervisor wouldn’t let me look over their shoulder as they “zeroed” out the machines prior to the precinct opening, so there is no independent verification that those machines didn’t have test votes on them that were counted. (That actually happened in Lowndes County recently but it was caught by a whistleblower. )

      4. You can be worried about whatever you want, but “the machines” are only a small part of the problem. What about the memory cards? Or the software? We are totally dependent on them because there is no other record.

  7. Rick Day says:

    I worked a precinct in DeKalb County a few years ago as the “touchscreen technician” for our little group, so I can chime in on some ‘hands-on’ experience.

    For some reason, 4 elections in a row, we could not the phone to accept the transfer of the vote at the end of the night, so someone just ‘took the cards’ and tally sheets over to Election Headquarters.

    I know from research and experience the following things are factual:

    1. There are massive holes in the security system of the physical handling of the ‘hard drives’. While transporting the cards (they look like plug in laptop style wireless card thingies, thin with the terminals on one short side) it would not be difficult to add, delete or reprogram data, add malware code, or any other sort of nefarious monkey business.

    2. This hacking technology has existed for as long as there have been touch screen systems. They exist and they are effective.

    As stated above, if you want a reason to have a V-VAT system? One word: Minnesota.

    Let me ask you this, gentlemen: How much is an election worth, in dollars, if one could purchase such things?

    • Mozart says:

      Very good question, Rick Day. People never focus on what could easily be happening in these elections. Instead, they’d rather focus on “Oh, this sounds like it will cost a lot.”

      Wonder which is more critical to the continuation of our democratic republic: a) secure elections, or b) money to stuff pork into some state senator’s district?

  8. There are massive holes in the security system of the physical handling of the ‘hard drives’. While transporting the cards (they look like plug in laptop style wireless card thingies, thin with the terminals on one short side) it would not be difficult to add, delete or reprogram data

    Exactly. All the commenters above are going on and on about how things work on on election day, and how many eyeballs are on the machines during election day, and how you aren’t qualified to comment if you haven’t volunteered on election day, etc.

    Hey, screw election day! I’m more interested in security of the machines for the 99.9% of the time that they spend in a warehouses in between election days. Ultimately, these machines are little more than low-end Windows PC’s running a copy of Microsoft Access (seriously). At the time Georgia was making the switch to electronic voting, the machines we bought didn’t even use PASSWORDS (http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2003/12/61243).

    If you have physical access to our election machines in between elections, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to compromise their security. The only sane reason to be cool with this is if your political tribe of choice happens to control physical access to the machines. Even then, it’s still scary.

  9. Lawton Sack says:

    I believe there are always going to be doubts raised by some about election procedures, regardless of the method used. Can anyone think of a method that would cause zero doubts to be raised?

    Paper ballots and scantrons could be altered, destroyed, stolen, etc. (or even magically be found later!) Punch cards have hanging chads, semi hanging chads, preganant chads, etc. and can be destroyed or stolen. Electronic machines and cards could be hacked or the machines could crash. Election superintendents could be bought. A S.O.S. could lie about election results. I bet there was even a way to get the purple off your thumb in Iraq.

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