Long lines and glitches greeted voters at several places from Florida to Virginia as technologically advanced America began voting Tuesday to choose between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney. In scenes rarely witnessed back home in India, voters waited hours on end as lines stretched out the door of polling sites in Central Florida Tuesday, according to Orlando Sentinel. Long lines and some glitches were also reported at precincts in Virginia with power breakdowns briefly disrupting voting in at least three polling places in Eastern Henrico,
In anticipation of the 2012 election, the Rockaway Youth Task Force proudly registered about 350 18- to 24-year-olds from the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. But Milan Taylor, the group’s 23-year-old founder and president, doubts any of those newly registered voters will cast a ballot Tuesday. For those entering their second week stranded in the devastated Rockaways without heat or electricity, figuring out where the polling stations have been relocated to isn’t at the top of any to-do list. “We’re trying to convince people to get out and vote. We’ve printed out fliers with the new poll sites,” Taylor said. “But in reality, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep your family warm, voting might be the least of your priorities.”
On this election day, I’ll be looking at a map. Not of swing states that could go red or blue, but a map measuring states’ voting technology, and which have the best and the worst chances of messing up the count. For instance, Wisconsin: Good. Georgia: Not so good at making sure votes are recorded in a way that can be audited or recounted if needed. David Dill is a computer science professor at Stanford, and he’s been paying close attention to electronic voting issues and security for years. Dill’s been watching a few states in particular.
Voting Blogs: Regardless of Presidential Race Results, Voting Issues Likely to Spark Lawsuits | The BLT
Even if tonight’s presidential vote is not close enough to spark a contested election and a major legal battle for the White House, election law experts have already identified plenty of voting issues today that could mean post-election litigation. If the presidential election is not extremely close, “the press and the public won’t care for another three and a half years,” said Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. But any number of races further down on the ballot that are close could be pushed into the courts, said Hasen, who wrote about how election litigation has more than doubled since the Bush v. Gore election in his new book, The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown.
Voting rights advocates described the election in New Jersey on Tuesday as a “catastrophe,” and said significant problems were also cropping up in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, among other places, although it was not possible to immediately verify all of those reports.In New Jersey, problems stemming from super storm Sandy caused election computers to crash and some polling places were not able to open by late morning, according to Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She also said some poll workers were demanding identification from voters, in violation of state law.
Proud voters are already posting photos of their ballots on Instagram—sometimes with the names of their chosen candidates filled in. But before you snap a shot of your vote, you might want to check your state laws. As the Citizen Media Law Project points out as part of their guide to documenting the 2012 election, showing your marked ballot to other people is actually illegal in many states. Laws against displaying your ballot are motivated by concerns about vote buying, since voters being bribed might need to be prove they voted a certain way. While laws vary from state to state, the penalties for showing your ballot can be stiff.
Hundreds and potentially thousand of voters in Florida’s Pinellas County received automatic calls from the local supervisor of elections mistakenly informing them that they had until 7 p.m. tomorrow to cast their votes. Of course, they actually have until 7 p.m. this evening. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the calls went out between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday because of a phone system glitch.
New Jersey: E-voting chaos: New Jersey voters sent to official’s personal Hotmail address | Ars Technica
Security experts warned that New Jersey’s plan for e-mail-based voting was a recipe for problems, and anecdotal evidence is starting to trickle in that the system isn’t working as well as organizers had hoped. One address used to request ballots was not even accepting e-mail late Tuesday morning. And in another county, an election official responded to…
There was the actual storm. Then there is the metaphorical perfect storm. With polls showing a close presidential race, fears have risen that the integrity of Tuesday’s presidential election could be thrown into doubt by either damage from super storm Sandy, which has created enormous voting challenges in New York and New Jersey, or the confluence of ballot box disputes in battleground states. Armies of lawyers were at the ready Monday as tussles continued over voting, especially in Ohio and Florida, the two states considered most likely to throw the presidential election into an overtime ballot dispute reminiscent of the Bush-Gore race of 2000.
Ohio: Complicated process for counting provisional ballots could decide the presidency | cleveland.com
After 7:30 p.m. today, it’s no longer about which candidate you voted for. It’s about which votes get counted. If today’s presidential election in Ohio is too close to call, the state’s complicated process for counting provisional ballots will likely face national scrutiny. The process will play out slowly and painstakingly over the next couple weeks, and in the end, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted ultimately could be the person who decides which provisional ballots must be counted and which will be tossed. “That will get dicey,” said Edward Foley, director of Election Law @ Moritz, a program at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. “That just shows a structural weakness in our system.”
It’s a crisp, clear, and cold day in Ohio, a state that everyone believes to be critical. On the ground floor of the Ohio State University building I’m in right now, there’s a long line of students waiting to cast their votes, some for over an hour we’re told. It will be a long day for them, and it could be a long night for all of us if it’s close. Well before the first ballots were cast, the candidates and their allies were in court fighting over the rules. In Ohio, there were two especially important court orders issued in the weeks before Election Day.
With a heavy turnout across the Philadelphia region, election officials were scrambling to instruct voters on the state’s most recent rules on photo identification but were giving out bad information. The Committee of Seventy election watchdog agency said one of the biggest problems in the city and suburban Philadelphia counties was poll workers telling voters that they needed to have voter ID before they could cast ballots. “There’s a lot of honest misunderstanding, and maybe some not so honest,” said Zack Stalberg, the committee’s CEO. “There’s a good deal of confusion.”
Reddit, Twitter, cable news, and the universe at large have been figuratively blowing up today over a YouTube video that appears to show a Pennsylvania voter attempting to select “Barack Obama” on a voting machine and watching in alarm as the machine selects “Mitt Romney” instead. The video is embedded below. The good news is that it’s unlikely this is an indication that anyone, man or machine, is trying to systematically steal the election. That’s partly because these sorts of glitches are actually not that uncommon on voting machines. Which I suppose is also sort of the bad news. I spoke with David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford and founder of the nonprofit watchdog group Verified Voting, to get his take on the apparent glitch. Dill told me it looks like a classic case of “vote-flipping,” a problem that has cropped up sporadically in U.S. elections since the dawn of voting machines.
Election Day is underway, but not without some issues in parts of Central Virginia. A pair of brief power outages in at least three polling places around 6:10 a.m. caused issues for some voters in Eastern Henrico. The lights flickered at the polls at Central Gardens Elementary School, Abundant Life Church, and Ratcliffe Elementary School. However, Central Gardens power did not return, according to Dominion Power.
On Tuesday, like lots of other folks, I’ll be heading to the polls to vote. I live in Massachusetts, where voting is done by paper ballot. You get a ballot on heavy stock paper, indicate your vote by filling in the appropriate ovals with a marker and the ballot gets read and counted by an optical scanner. Every time I vote, I’m taken back to my elementary school days in late 1970s in Pittsburgh: filling out my ballot is just like it was filling out a standardized test form 35 years ago. Why is that, in a time when I can pay for my morning coffee using my phone, we still use this old school approach to voting? Surely, using a more up-to-date technology would be a better way to go, right? Turns out, not necessarily and, in fact, it’s hard to beat a good old paper ballot.
In 2008, when reports surfaced of voters waiting in line for two, three, and, in one remarkable case in Georgia, 12 hours to vote, at Facing South we wrote about why this is a voting rights issue. Here we go again. Over the last two weeks, reports have flooded in of voters waiting for hours at early voting sites to cast their ballots. Florida has again dominated the headlines, with accounts of voters standing in line for up to six hours. In South Florida, Democrats sued after Gov. Rick Scott opted against extending early voting hours, as his Republican predecessor had in 2008. (Scott insisted voting was running smoothly.)
The Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory looks at a wide variety of security devices– locks, seals, tags, access control, biometrics, cargo security, nuclear safeguards–to try to find vulnerabilities and locate potential fixes. Unfortunately, there’s not much funding available in this country to study election security. So we did this as a Saturday afternoon type of project. It’s called a man-in-the-middle attack. It’s a classic attack on security devices. You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting the voter’s intent. We used a logic analyzer. Digital communication is a series of zeros and ones. The voltage goes higher, the voltage goes lower. A logic analyzer collects the oscillating voltages between high and low and then will display for you the digital data in a variety of formats. But there all kinds of way to do it. You can use a logic analyzer, you can use a microprocessor, you can use a computer–basically, anything that lets you see the information that’s being exchanged and then lets you know what to do to mimic the information.
Sloppy signatures on mail-in ballots might prove to be the hanging chads of the 2012 election. As Republicans and Democrats raise alarms about potential voter fraud and voter suppression, mail-in ballots have boomed as an uncontroversial form of convenient, inexpensive voting. In the critical swing states of Ohio and Florida, more than a fifth of voters chose the mail-in option 2010. In Colorado, another battleground, the number was nearly two-thirds. But there may be controversy to come. For a variety of reasons, mail-in ballots are much more likely to be rejected than conventional, in-person votes.
Only days before millions of Americans cast their ballots, a climate of suspicion hangs over Tuesday’s national elections. Accusations of partisan dirty tricks and concerns about long voter lines, voting equipment failures and computer errors are rampant, particularly in key battleground states such as Ohio and Colorado, where absentee and provisional ballots could decide a close election. “Those will be the states that are the most prone to confusion and chaos and contesting if the election is close or within what some people call the ‘margin of litigation,’ ” said Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Few want to even think about it, but the 2012 US election result could be clouded by problems with voting machines … again. Twelve years after the Florida punch card debacle in which thousands of votes went uncounted in the crucial state, some experts cite similar concerns about voting technology. “I’m not sure we’ve made forward progress since 2000,” said Douglas Jones, a University of Iowa computer scientist and co-author of a book published this year, “Broken Ballots.” “We’ve put a tremendous effort into changing the voting systems, but in many cases we’ve discarded systems too quickly and replaced them with systems that we haven’t examined enough.”
“A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.” This was Ben Franklin’s description of the fragile product of the new United States Constitution, in answer to a Mrs. Powel, as he left the convention hall on Sept. 17, 1787. He could as well have been describing the country on Nov. 6, 2012. We share Ben’s anxiety as members of a growing number of worried computer scientists, analysts and election administrators who fear what will happen on Election Day. We worry that the nation will end up with no confidence in the election results, regardless of who wins.
For those who can’t wait until the 2012 presidential election is finally over on Wednesday: not so fast. Unless one candidate wins a clear and decisive victory — an increasingly unlikely scenario, given the tightness of the polls — some political analysts predict that the final outcome could be delayed by a bevy of lawsuits, challenges and recounts. “You can bet this year is going to be marked by a ridiculous carnival of grievances,” Virginia-based GOP consultant Mike McKenna said. “I can just feel this one coming from 100 miles away. You’ve got a close election, lousy polling, lots of lawyers — it’s just not a good recipe.”
Florida: Glitch in Florida’s Voter Registration System Can Disenfranchise Absentee Voters | Huffington Post
A couple weeks ago, when we were investigating for our academic research patterns in rejection rates of absentee and provisional ballots cast in the August 14, 2012, primary election, we discovered some anomalies in the Florida statewide voter file. Upon further investigation, and after following up with some county Supervisors of Elections, we believe that we have found a troubling anomaly in Florida’s Voter Registration System. This oversight that we stumbled upon has the potential to disenfranchise registered voters who mailed in absentee ballots from their counties of residence and then subsequently updated their voter registration addresses with new information to reflect having moved. By being vigilant and updating their voter registration information to reflect their current addresses, these voters risk becoming “self-disenfranchised.”
Elizabeth Arteaga, a 60-year-old woman born in Peru, tried to vote last weekend. She arrived to the West Kendall Regional Library in North Miami at 9:00 a.m. and waited for a total of six hours to cast her vote. “My husband had to go to work so we couldn’t stay in line,” said Arteaga. “Handicapped people and elderly were waiting under the sun. They were treated like animals.” Finally yesterday she voted at the same polling place, after waiting another three hours. Only one of three voting machines was working, and the line was as big as it was the day before, says Ms Arteaga.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler expressed concern Monday morning over New Jersey’s weekend announcement it would be allowing those displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote online. “Quite frankly, I don’t think we’re there yet,” Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler told press assembled in Baton Rouge this morning. Referring to New Jersey’s recent announcement the state will allow displaced citizens to vote by email or fax as “overseas voters,” Schedler added “I’m very concerned about the methodology.”
Citizens of New Jersey’s Ocean County vote at the Ocean County Administration building in Toms River in a special early mail voting arrangement. New Jersey’s decision to allow voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to cast ballots by email has prompted a flood of warnings over security, secrecy and a potential for legal entanglements. New Jersey’s decision to allow voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to cast ballots by email has prompted a flood of warnings over security, secrecy and a potential for legal entanglements. State officials in New Jersey announced the plan Saturday, saying it could help victims of the unprecedented storm along with rescuers who may also be unable to get to polling places.
Tomorrow’s election is coming, and there’s nothing New Jersey can do to postpone it. So to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which left millions in the Northeast without power and forced many to evacuate from their homes, state officials decided late on Saturday to allow displaced citizens to vote using email or fax. Citizens who want to vote remotely can request a ballot via phone or email, and then return a completed ballot via email or fax to their county clerk’s office. As Lt. Governor Kim Guadango explains, “the State of New Jersey is committed to holding a fair, open, transparent, and accessible election on Tuesday.” The order seems well-intended, and could make voting more accessible for many citizens, but experts are concerned that email voting forces voters to give up their anonymity, that votes submitted by email may not be counted, and that security vulnerabilities could allow the election to be manipulated.
New Jersey’s last-minute offer of email voting to displaced residents was greeted by concern by security experts, who warn that email offers a fast track to voter fraud. But the system may have another problem as well: County election administrators are, according to anecdotal reports, simply not responding to all requests for ballots. In two major counties, the email address advertised on the website of the county clerk is not even accepting email. The email address listed on the website of the Morris County Clerrk, email@example.com, is not receiving email. Nor is the email, firstname.lastname@example.org, listed on the website of the Essex County Clerk, email@example.com and the County’s site. (The Essex County Clerk posted to his Facebook page Monday that voters could email requests to his personal Hotmail account.
Holding an election is complicated. Holding an election eight days after a historically significant disaster? Probably exponentially so. This is the circumstance in which the state of New Jersey will find itself tomorrow. Gov. Chris Christie has ordered counties to provide ways for people who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote in Tuesday’s election by fax and email. The system will follow in part a similar scheme developed for New Jersey residents serving overseas in the military to cast their ballots. To say that no one is going to be happy with the result, no matter what it is, is probably understating it. To the extent that the process is understood — it was at this writing still in the process of being implemented — it will work like this.
New Jersey residents displaced by last week’s superstorm can vote by e-mail like overseas residents – but with a crucial difference that has drawn objections from voting security experts. Like 30 other states, New Jersey allows overseas voters and military voters to return their ballots electronically via e-mail. But only New Jersey also requires voters to mail in a paper version. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno announced Saturday that New Jersey residents could vote by e-mail under the state’s overseas voter law – but didn’t say they must send in paper backup.