BRADBLOG: Voter films touch-screen voting machine that flips the vote from Obama to Romney

November 6, 2012
Brad Friedman

This seems to be the first official video of touch-screen vote-flipping 2012, reportedly captured today in Pennsylvania, where elected officials so disrespect their own voters that they still force almost all of them to vote on these 100% unverifiable systems...

Congrats, and thank you to the voter who was wise enough to capture the problem on his video cell phone! He described the problem this way on the YouTube page where the video was posted:

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I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

Of course, this same sort of thing has happened every single election since 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting was forced on Americans ten years ago or so, but when it was first heavily reported by Democrats as having happened in 2004 all across the country, Republicans (and elections officials of all parties) called them "conspiracy theorists" and sore losers. Here's just a couple of examples caught on video from 2008. I've even written an entire chapter for Sonoma University's Project Censored book, Censored 2010, about the largely unreported nationwide vote-flipping epidemic during the 2008 election.

This year, it's been the Republicans who have finally decided, wisely, to be concerned about it. Last week, the GOP sent a letter [PDF] to top election officials in six different states, offering bad advice to them about what they should do, after a few unconfirmed complaints of touch-screen votes flipping from Romney to Obama were reported.

We briefly reported on the matter a few days ago this way:

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We've only seen a few reports of this, but don't necessarily doubt it. While, historically, most touch-screen votes flip away from Ds, we've seen reports of them flipping to Ds on a few occasions as well. Either way, these systems are 100% unverifiable (with or without a so-called paper trail print out, as some have) and should never be used in any American election. The GOP has sent their letter to Secretaries of State in NV, OH, KS, MO and CO, and the Executive Dir. of the Election Board in NC. Three of those folks are Ds, three are Rs. The letter requests that they "Make arrangements for additional technicians on Election Day in case of increased calibration problems." Of course, when machines flip votes, they should be taken out of service, not re-calibrated when they are in "Election Mode" and most sensitive to manipulation. The letter also foolishly asks for signs to be posted warning voters to "double-check that the voting machine properly recorded their vote", which is, with these sorts of machines, scientifically impossible.

Fortunately, it's being reported that the machine seen above has been taken out of service, rather than re-calibrated as so often happens, and as the GOP stupidly requested be done in such instances.

[Update: Mother Jones is now reporting that PA Dept of State officials are saying "they recalibrated the machine, did a test run, and put it back online." That's the dumbest thing they could do. Wonder who "fixed" it?]

All of that said, last night we offered several tips for voting today in ways that might help maximize the chances of your vote being counted and counted accurately. We included these quick tips on WHAT TO DO IF YOUR VOTE FLIPS ON A TOUCH-SCREEN MACHINE:

  • Try to capture it with your cell phone camera.
  • Call poll supervisors to observe the problem.
  • Fill out a problem report.
  • Refuse to vote on that machine.
  • Request that the machine be taken out of service.
  • Get the serial number of the machine if possible (may be difficult in some cases).
  • Tell other voters in line which machine it was and that they should NOT vote on that machine!
  • Report it to county/town election office.
  • Report it to the Secretary of State.
  • Call local reporters and tell them the story.
  • Call 866-OUR-VOTE and tell them.
  • Contact bloggers and Election Integrity websites.
  • Raise holy hell.

Remember: No matter what you see on the screen of your touch-screen vote, even on the machines with so-called "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trails" printed on the side, those votes are 100% unverifiable (like the one that President Obama himself foolishly cast last week.). Try, at all costs, to vote on a paper ballot instead, if you are allowed to do so in your state or county!

But, also remember, it doesn't necessarily mean someone has hacked the machine. If they had wanted to do that, they likely wouldn't have let you see that they were doing it. They'd just have let you vote as normal, and then recorded the vote the way theywanted to inside the machine. Neither you, nor anybody else, would ever know about it.

When it happens, chances are the touch-screen on the incredibly poorly made machine has has fallen out of calibration. It's probably not on purpose, not that that matters to you or anybody else. But it underscores again what we have been yelling and screaming for years: 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems (and other Direct Record Electronic voting systems like them) should never be used, and should be entirely banned from use in American elections. Period.