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Vote flipping in Madison

More on above

DRE disaster in Sarasota


Long list of DRE failures by Voters Unite

Iowa standarizes on optical scan

Tennessee Act requiring all future purchases be optical scan

 Fair Elections Wisconsin is requesting legislation to require that all future purchase of voting systems be limited to voter-marked paper ballot systems.

Currently over 90% of Wisconsin’s voters use hand-marked paper ballots.  This system includes ballot marking devices for those with special needs, and optical scan tabulators.  However, there are over 1600 touchscreen Direct Reading Electronic (DRE) voting machines in Wisconsin.  The DRE’s have caused a notorious incident of undervotes in Sarasota, and there has also been an incident in Winnebago County in Wisconsin for the February 2008 election.

Such legislation should have the following features:

  • All equipment purchases in the future must use hand-marked paper ballots. 
  • Existing equipment would be grandfathered, but when it comes time to replace it, hand-marked paper ballots must be the only system considered.
  • The one allowed exception would be for municipalities that already have other equipment such as Direct Recording Equipment (DRE).   If they are opening additional polling places, they may purchase additional DRE’s for the new polling places.  This exemption should expire in 2011.

The above restrictions would mean that no money is wasted, since all existing equipment would remain usable.  However, by setting a future course for replacements, there would be significant benefits.

  • Standardization would make government more efficient by making it easier for Wisconsin’s election administrators to write and enforce rules and policies.
  • Standardization would make it easier for voters.  If they move to another municipality, they will still have a similar system. 
  • Standardization would give vendors guidance as to what type of equipment to develop in the future.  There would still be competition, as there are at least three major vendors of optical scan equipment.

Hand marked paper ballots are now being used by over 55% of US voters, and use has been growing steadily.   Tennessee, Florida and Iowa have recently adopted legislation to mandate hand-marked paper ballots.

Here are some advantages of a hand-marked paper ballot system:

  • It inherently produces a verified paper record filled out by the voter. 
  • Faster voting eliminates or minimizes long lines, since scanning paper ballots takes only seconds.  With DRE’s, voters have to wait for machines that fill out their ballots, and voting on a DRE takes minutes.
  • If an optical scanner fails, voters can continue marking paper ballots, which can be collected securely and held for counting.  When DRE equipment fails, there is a great delay while the problem is solved or emergency ballots are provided.
  • The technology is cheaper, with only one scanner and one ballot marker (for persons with special needs) required per polling place.
  • Recounts and audits are much easier to perform than with commercial voter verified paper record (VVPR) systems, which have often experienced paper jams that disrupt the printed record.
  • It is easier to preserve privacy with optical scanners than with VVPR, because most VVPR solutions store the paper records sequentially.
  • Durable paper is used for ballots marked by the voter to be counted in optical scanners.
The operation is simpler and more transparent to voters.

Fair Elections Wisconsin letter to Senator Risser proposing legislation to require that all future purchases of voting equipment be limited to optical scan, using voter marked paper ballots.

Touchscreens in Wisconsin

As of June 2008, these were the approximate numbers of the different types of voting equipment

Optical Scan Total

Accessible DRE Touchscreens

Premier Accuvote OS(1.96.6,ES-2000) 406         Sequoia Edge 1193
Sequoia/ES&S Optech Eagles IIIP 1072         ES&S iVotronic 71
Sequoia Insight 87         Populex 2
ES&S M100 330         Premier TSX 362
ES&S Central Count 149 municipalities            VTI 23
Total 1895         Total 1651
Ballot Marking Device:  ES&S AutoMark 999    
Vote-Pad 26    

Vote-Flipping in Madison, WI

Isthmus article    Ted Shultz' page

Winnebago County Incident February 19, 2008

Voters using the Diebold TSX DRE touchscreen had an undervote rate of 3.5%, whereas at the same polling places, optical scan had an undervote rate of 0.5%.  Approximately 3% of the voters were robbed of their vote in the presidential primary due to the confusing software on the Diebold TSX.  As long as we have contests that are closer than 3%, this will be significant, particularly if you are the one being robbed.

News report Appleton Post Crescent
Request for investigation From Paul Malischke & Ann Frisch
Report from GAB staff Dated March 25, 2008.  Includes the above 2 items & raw data (pages 5 - 11)
Instructions to voters from County Clerk Sue Ertmer
Flow charts from Paul Malischke based upon Ertmer's instructions

Raw Data

Explanatory letter from Sue Ertmer

Neenah wards 5-8, Neenah wards 9-12 & 30, City of Menasha, Town of Menasha, Town of Oshkosh, Town of Vinland, Town of Winneconne

Contact Paul Malischke about broken links, if the status is not up to date, or with your comments.       Last updated Saturday, April 09, 2011

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