Thursday, October 23, 2008

Votes being stolen from Obama in Early Voting

I have to point out the pattern of voting "glitches" that have been reported so far with early voting. People in several states now have noted that when they cast a vote for Obama, it has switched to McCain. Not once have the votes flipped in the opposite direction. If there were simple error, we'd expect to see mistakes in both directions. But, just as with the errors in 2004, the only votes that have been seen flipping have gone from the Democratic presidential candidate to the Republican one.

How many times do we have to see this before we recognize what is going on? Someone is trying to game the vote in our country. And if we don't all become a lot more vigilant, our vote will be reduced to a meaningless exercise.

Here are some sample incidents.

Austin, Texas

From a message on an Obama list:

A good, responsible, reliable friend of mine just called with a horror story about voting this morning here in Austin, TX.

He voted at Fiesta Mart on 38th and IH-35.

He voted a straight Democratic ticket.

When he was reading the 'voted for' listing at the end of his ballot, all of those listed were Democratic candidates EXCEPT FOR PRESIDENT. The list showed that he had voted for John McCain!!!

And he voted the straight Democratic ticket.

He reported it to the election official and that person was as shocked by it as my friend. They corrected the vote BEFORE he hit the CAST BALLOT button.

My friend said the experience made him sick to his stomach. He said he was the youngest person in the voting area a nd all he could think is that the older people around him may not proofread their ballot before pressing the CAST VOTE button. They may believe that they voted for Obama but the voting machine may have registered a
vote for McCain.

He called the Travis County voting office and they said they would look into this. When he called me I gave him the telephone number for the Democratic Party and he then called them to report what had happened and they said they would look into it, also.

I am shocked and disgusted by what he experienced this morning and I am telling you because of it.

Please PROOFREAD your ballot choices BEFORE hitting the CAST BALLOT button. This is vitally important. (For EVERYONE who votes, whichever way you vote.)


So I went down to the Democratic headquarters this afternoon and they confirmed what Veryan's e-mail said, that even though a voter had chosen the Democratic ticket, the presidential candidate on his pre-casted ballot was listed as John McCain rather than Barack Obama.

The person I talked with concurred that it is more likely to happen where poor or elderly vote and that it has happened at more than one location.

Here's a suggestion to all of you who are thinking of early voting: Consider voting in an area that has more elderly or a disproportionate number of poor people. See if your ballot is in error before you cast it. If it does, raise heck before you cast it--get the number on the side of the machine--and then make sure to let the Democratic headquarters know.
West Virginia

From the Charleston Gazette:

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for "Barack Obama" kept flipping to "John McCain".

In both counties, Republicans are responsible for overseeing elections. Both county clerks said the problem is isolated.
Of course they would say that. But the problem should never have happened, and again, if it were random, there would have been reports of votes switching in the othe direction. The uniformity of the flip is the disturbing clue.

This woman's experience is heartbreaking (not to mention democracy-breaking):

“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.

“I heard from some other people they also had trouble. But no one in there knew how to fix it"....
No one knew what to do. How can you, when the system, by design, is inauditable?

We should not be voting on DRE (direct recording electronic) voting machines ever. Not ever. Even if you see a paper record, watch how your paper record vote can be altered after you leave the ballot booth!

(For additional videos showing how other electronic voting systems can be hacked, see this Princeton video re the hacking of a Sequoia machine. There are many others online.)

Nashville, Tennessee

David and Patricia Earnhardt, the makers of the documentary film "Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections" were themselves the victim of a voting glitch when they voted last Friday on touchscreens in Nashville, Tennessee. Brad Friedman quoted David's email as saying:

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 & instructed me how to use it. I touched "Obama" for president & nothing lit up. I touched 2 or 3 more times & 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 & it finally lit up. I continued on to cast the rest of my votes.

After completing the process & reviewing my votes, I went to the VOTE page, hit the VOTE button & nothing happened. Again after several tries, I called the poll worker over & he finally got the machine to register my votes."

Patricia Earnhardt - Friday, Oct. 17 - Howard School Building - Nashville, Tennessee
I also 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.
There are other problems that are less sinister, in that they are bipartisan in nature. For example, in Flagler County, where George Bush and John Kerry got similar numbers of votes in 2004, ballots were printed on paper that was 1/32 of an inch too short to be read by the new voting machines.

You'd think, in a Democracy, that this in the one thing Republican, Democrats, and people of ALL political persuasions could absolutely agree on: we need an honest vote. And so far, the dishonest machines have all favored the Republicans. Any objective observer has genuine cause for concern. I wouldn't want to win the race by stealing it. Republicans shouldn't approve of that either, even if it appears to benefit them. Putting thugs who are willing to steal their way into office at the helm helps NO party in this country.

Be prepared

It's better to prevent an election issue than to have to report one! Please review these 12 checklist items for securing your vote, from YES! magazine:

1. Check your registration. Even if you think you're registered, you may not be. Check online at

2. Vote now. Check if early voting is possible in your state. If you're voting by mail, check carefully where you need to sign, how to seal the envelope, and how to mark the ballot. And note: Some ballots require extra postage. [Lisa's note: do NOT vote early if it means NOT voting on a paper ballot that you control.]

3. Practice your vote. Electronic voting machines can be difficult to use. is preparing links to video demos of how to vote on the machine you will find at your polling station. If you'll be using a paper ballot, check out the sample included in your voter pamphlet.

4. Find out who's in charge. Make a phone list of your county and state election officials — it may save valuable time on Election Day if you need to get registration verification or other information.


5. Vote early. Avoid the frustration of long lines. Also, if you encounter problems, you'll have time to sort them out and may be able to help others.

6. Take your government-issued ID and your cell phone, if you have one. If you have problems, or see problems, call a hotline immediately (see point #9). You may not need ID to vote, but it's best to have it. If you have trouble with your registration, ask for a provisional ballot.

7. Avoid Straight Party Voting, if it's an option in your state. Vote for each race individually, even if it takes a little longer.

8. Verify your vote. [Lisa's note: THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!] If you're voting on an electronic voting machine, check the review screen to make sure it reflects your vote. If the machine produces a paper record, check as you go along that everything is working correctly. If not, speak to a polling attendant—don't leave until you're sure your vote has been properly recorded. [Lisa's note: Please don't vote on an electric ballot. Please cast your ballot on recountable paper if at all possible.]

9. Document and report. If you encounter difficulties, or see others experiencing difficulties (excessive lines, voter harassment, malfunctioning machines, etc.), make a detailed record. Get all the facts you can — location, names, specific problem.

The best way to report problems is to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683), which has volunteer lawyers in 15 locations standing by to provide rapid-response assistance. You can also contact your party of choice. We have more suggestions here.


10. Call your candidate. If there are questions about an election result, urge your candidate to ask for an audit. Ask how you can help.

11. Call your election officials. If you have concerns, let your county and state election officials know, and monitor their response. Ask them not to certify the election before all challenges and recounts are finished. And send a copy of your message to your local newspaper editor. If you're confident about the election result, thank the officials for a difficult job well done.


12. Work for fair, transparent elections. 66% of Americans don't trust the electronic voting machines many of us will be voting on this November. Join the movement for election reform in between elections. Use our YES! Tools to find out how.
Thank you for reading all of this, if you made it this far. You are a true patriot, and I appreciate your concern for preserving our democracy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Careful with that "not once" claim. :)

Whether or not the problem is deliberate, it is a problem, and will eventually include deliberate manipulation, if it doesn't already. History should assure us of that.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Thanks. So "once." ;-) When it reaches parity, I'll stop assuming deliberate manipulation. So far, in nearly all cases, votes move away from Democrats, not towards them, in "glitches".

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommmend that you read Comment #4 of this post at BradBlog. The GOP to Dem vote flipping may have been a hoax:


The Tennessee "votes flip to Obama" story is not true. I sent you a detailed email earlier today describing what I learned by talking to three of the principals involved in the story (the reporter, the Election Registrar and one of the Republican county election commissioners). Here is what I posted on Democratic Underground about what I found:

DREs may be nefarious, BUT they are loyal --- TN "votes flip to Obama" story debunked


Lordy, I would give anything if the story publicized earlier this week on BradBlog and here at DU --- that three voters in a rural Tennessee county using ES&S iVotronic DREs had witnessed their votes jump from McCain to Obama --- was true. Why? Because a story like that is so rare but, if true, it would affirm that electronic voting carries risks for all voters, not just "tin-foil-hat" Democrats. As we worked our TN Voter Confidence Act bill through our legislature (to ban DREs and move to paper ballots/random audits), it would have really helped us if there had been examples of Republicans being harmed by this equipment as often as Democrats, or at all. Unfortunately, my follow-up on the Tennessee story this morning proves to me what my OP title says: DREs may be nefarious BUT they are faithful --- to their Republican masters.

I would strongly recommend that everyone read the original story published in the Decatur County Chronicle (weekly, circulation 2,700, motto: "Blessed in the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12)) this past Tuesday. Here's the link:

Here's what I learned in speaking with the local reporter, the Decatur County Election Registrar and one of the Republican county election commissioners who was interviewed for the story:

--- The newspaper learned about the story "... when the voters called the paper to report the vote flips from McCain to Obama". Or maybe it was a call from the two county election commissioners quoted in the story --- both Republican party members of the five person local commission --- one of whose father-in-law happens to be the newspaper publisher.

--- The three voters who reported the vote-flips (but only to the newspaper --- they have still not contacted anyone at the Election Commission) were the mother, the father-in-law and either the cousin or the uncle of the Decatur County Republican Party Chairman

--- All four of them are in business with each other at the local sawmill.

--- None of the aggrieved voters have listed phone numbers.

--- When the Decatur County Election Registrar offered to call a county election commission meeting to discuss the vote-flipping incident, the Republican commissioners declined.

--- Neither of the Republican commission members have been back to the county election commission office to file any formal complaint about the equipment or to ask that it be de-commissioned.

--- When I spoke to one of the Republican county election commissioners myself, he described the three voters who reported vote-flipping as "rabid Republicans" who had likely been encouraged to "push" (read: "invent") this story because of all of the coverage about ACORN. He does not believe the vote-flipping story himself.

So folks --- I report, you decide. As for me, my initial skepticism has (sadly) been confirmed. What looked like a rare glimpse at bi-partisan harm caused by DREs has sadly been --- once again --- another debunked exception that reinforces the rule.

When I finished my conversation with the county Election Registrar (who was completely open and helpful throughout our conversation) by saying "You know, when I heard this story, I smelled a fish. And it weren't fresh-caught", she said "Exactly."

Folks, we've just witnessed a little bamboozlry on the banks of the Tennessee River, in a sleepy little backwoods county whose Republicans are as slimy as they are stupid. Their little attempt at small town psy-ops has plopped pathetically --- like poop from a dying pachyderm.

Like the ACORN brou-ha-ha-ha-ha, this story has no merit.

DREs may be nefarious BUT they are faithful.

That's all folks.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Real History Lisa said...

Ewastud - I deleted your duplicate comment. And thanks - this certainly fits the pattern then, doesn't it.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you, and readers of this website, familiar with journalist Lynn Landes's work on voter security? The problem with electronic voting goes back a good deal further than most people realize -- back to the 1970's according to Landes.

The NPR program Talk of the Nation Science Friday did a segment two or three weeks ago with someone who spoke about our election security problems, although he was a bit timid in talking about them. Lynn Landes was one of the callers to the program and queried the expert guest rather pointedly about her election security concerns. Podcasts of the program are downloadable.

2:43 AM  
Blogger JJR said...


I early voted in Denton County, Texas and was pleasantly surprised to find out that paper ballots were an option, and I noticed that few voters stuck with the machines when paper was available; nearly everyone was asking for paper ballots.

There is still computing involved, though, since the paper ballots are read by optical scan, and there's still room for manipulation after the optical scan is done, but at least as you say, there's an audit trail that way.

I was also grateful for the paper ballot because I wasn't looking forward to try and figure out how to do a write-in candidate on an electronic voting machine. It was much easier to write-in "Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente" on the paper ballot. The election officials has been nice enough to post the names of recognized third-party write-in candidates in every voting booth, but didn't give any party affiliation, so you'd just have to *know* that Brian Moore and Stewart Alexander are the Socialist party candidates, etc.

I did otherwise vote for all D's except for the judicial races, which I voted straight Libertarian.
I'm fairly confident 100% of my candidates will lose, but that's North Texas for you.

8:20 AM  

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