Monday, November 06, 2006

Advice to Voters on November 7

Well, tomorrow is Election Day, and 39% of voters will be casting their votes on electronic voting machines, and the vast majority of votes in the US will be counted by electronic equipment. While I do not believe that there is any reason to have confidence in the fully electronic paperless voting machines used in Maryland and in many other places, I still think that the only way to make sure your vote is not counted is not to vote. So, I suggest that everybody who is registered to vote, get out and vote! Here are my suggestions to voters:

  1. Check your voter registration card and sample ballot that you hopefully received in the mail to make sure you know where your polling place is. You would be surprised at how many people go to the wrong precinct. Show up during the non-rush hours if you can. The slowest times are probably between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  2. Check your summary screens carefully. There have been reports in Florida and Texas of summary screens presenting different candidates from the ones chosen by the voters. Furthermore, there have been reports of certain races not appearing at all in the summary screens, despite voters casting votes. Finally, there are reports of e-voting machines in Virginia truncating the names of candidates on the summary screen. If you find any discrepancy, report it immediately to the poll workers and don't leave the polls without getting to a summary screen that represents exactly how you want to vote.
  3. Consider yourself to be a poll watcher during you time at the polls. Be vigilant of the behavior of other voters and the poll workers. Make sure nobody is loitering around any of the equipment. Feel free to ask the poll workers about security procedures. If you see any suspicious activity, report it immediately to the chief judge in the precinct and call the local board of elections.
  4. Sign up for Verified Voting's Election Transparency Project. They provide a toolkit for election observation.
  5. Read up on the equipment used in your precinct before you vote. There is an excellent resource for that on the EFF web site.
  6. If you experience any problem at the polls, call the Election Protection Hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE.

Let's hope that this election runs as smoothly as possible. Hopefully, in 2008, the momentum will shift away from paperless voting, and we'll be able to verify the outcomes of our future elections.