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October 20, 2008

Almost Heaven? Early Machine Vote Switching In WV

Posted in: 2008 Election

Yet again, voting problems in WV.  Early voters in West Virginia have reported vote switching on electronic machines.  Both counties where problems have occurred have Republicans in charge of voting, along with our GOP secretary of state.  

The first was a report from multiple voters in Jackson County, one of the few GOP-leaning counties in WV:

"When I touched the screen for Barack Obama, the check mark moved from his box to the box indicating a vote for John McCain," said Matheney…the poll worker in charge "responded that everything was all right. It was just that the screen was sensitive and I was touching the screen too hard. She instructed me to use only my fingernail."

Even after she began using her fingernail, Matheney said, the problem persisted.

The second occurred over the weekend, for voters in Putnam County, WV:

"I pushed buttons and they all came up Republican," she said. "I hit Obama and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.

"I asked them for a printout of my votes," Ketchum said. "But they said it was in the machine and I could not get it. I did not feel right when I left the courthouse. My son felt the same way."

There are reports that the questionable machines have been recalibrated or pulled, but no information on that is available at the WV Secretary of State’s website. Could easily be an innocent error, but how can you know without further information?  There is, however, a note about preventing voter fraud.  

One would think prevention should start with making sure machines contracted aren’t trying to cheat people out of their votes.

Early voting began in WV on October 15th.  Counties here use a mix of electronic voting, optical scan paper ballots, and old-style paper ballots.  Both counties reporting recent errors use machine voting, but this comes on the heels of multiple reports of problems with calibration of software for the optical scan machines.

Carper said the mistake was made by the vendor, Election Systems & Software Inc. in Nebraska. State and county election officials repeatedly have had problems with ES&S missing deadlines and making mistakes on voting materials…. 

Carper is unhappy with the voting glitch. "The problem is this is the day before the election starts," he said. "This does not instill confidence in the voting system.

Gee, ya think?!?  WVBlue has more here, including a number WV voters can call to report problems to Obama/Dem HQ: (304) 341-0205. You can also report problems nationwide to 1-866-OUR-VOTE


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