Voting Fraud Fears Grow (Update)

The previous two presidential elections suffered from severe problems in the voting process, whether it be loose chads or malfunctioning computer screens. Voters are now concerned about the possibility of not only voter problems, but voter-fraud throughout the country, and politics abound over each individual accusation.

In the swing-state West Virginia, six people who voted early complained that their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican by the machines.

According to Paul Nyden of the West Virginia Gazette, October 18, 2008:

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.

They also blamed voters for not being more careful.

“People make mistakes more than machines,” said Jackson County Clerk Jeff Waybright.

About 1.5% of the votes in the region. The Putnam Count Clerk Brian Wood is concerned that these isolated incidents may be misinterpreted as voter fraud rather than voting errors.

Jackson County Clerk Jeff Waybright, a Republican, said 400 other people voted without reporting any problems.

Wood said he and Waybright are both very careful to guarantee people’s votes are recorded properly.

Wood said, “Voting machines are very reliable. I hate the fact that stories like this are printed. It makes everybody get scared.

“That is not good for anybody. Where the fault is, I don’t know and the voter doesn’t know. There needs to be good communication between the voters and the poll workers.”

Wood offered this advice to voters: “The best way to solve this whole problem is that before you leave the voting booth, make sure on the review screen that everybody you want to vote for is checked.”

More than 1,000 voters from 48 local precincts in Putnam County cast early ballots in the past three days, Wood said. Putnam County has 36,000 registered voters.

Another swing-state- Colorado, is suffering from voting problems as well. Myung Oak Kim of the Rocky Mountain News reported on October 16 that Colorado is one of the least prepared states to handle electronic voting failures on Election day.

The report said Colorado had decent rules regarding post-election audits and verifying ballot counts. But it criticized the fact that two counties – Jefferson and Arapahoe – still use electronic machines that don’t have paper records. That means that if the software malfunctions and votes are lost, there’s no way to recover those votes. A state law will require that all e-voting terminals have paper records by January 2010.

Colorado was among 10 states identified as the least prepared for e-voting problems. The others are Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Akin to the recent complaints about Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a GOP voter registration recruiter was arrested in California for voter fraud. This highly inflammatory subject has led to strident political reactions from the Republican Party, who accuse the Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) of manipulating events for political gains. Drew Zahn of the WorldNetDaily, reports on October 20, 2008:

The arrest of a GOP voter registration recruiter on the eve of California’s registration deadline has outraged the state’s Republicans, who now say California’s secretary of state, a Democrat, timed the arrest to distract the public from ACORN’s voter fraud scandals.

Mark Jacoby, 25, was arrested this weekend for allegedly falsifying his own voter registration by fraudulently claiming his parents’ Los Angeles County address so he could legally gather voter signatures in California.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office alleges Jacoby did not live at the address, thereby perjuring himself and committing a felony for falsely claiming voter eligibility. If convicted, Jacoby faces up to 3 years in prison.

Hector Barajas, communications director for the California Republican Party, however, told WND that the charges are bogus, claiming that while Jacoby travels the nation working on voter registrations, his childhood home is still his home.

Concerns over voter fraud will mount as we approach Election Day and different organizations such as Citizens for a Fair Vote Count have taken it upon themselves to monitor and report problems throughout the country. In one example, Wired Blogs has set itself up as a reporting site for voter problems. The site has asked for people submit their complaints to them at vote@wired.com.

How concerned are you about the safety and security of your vote?

Update by Nate

An interesting, and somewhat scary story from the Washington Post:

Thousands of voters across the country must reestablish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order for their votes to count on Nov. 4, a result of new state registration systems that are incorrectly rejecting them.

The challenges have led to a dozen lawsuits, testy arguments among state officials and escalating partisan battles. Because many voters may not know that their names have been flagged, eligibility questions could cause added confusion on Election Day, beyond the delays that may come with a huge turnout.

The scramble to verify voter registrations is happening as states switch from locally managed lists of voters to statewide databases, a change required by federal law and hailed by many as a more efficient and accurate way to keep lists up to date.

But in the transition, the systems are questioning the registrations of many voters when discrepancies surface between their registration information and other official records, often because of errors outside voters’ control.

The issue made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which yesterday blocked a challenge to 200,000 Ohio voters whose registration data conflicted with other state records.

It is impossible to know how many voters are affected nationwide. There are no reports of large-scale problems in Virginia, Maryland or the District, but the trouble is cropping up in many states.

In Alabama, scores of voters are being labeled as convicted felons on the basis of incorrect lists.

Michigan must restore thousands of names it illegally removed from voter rolls over residency questions, a judge ruled this week.

Tens of thousands of voters could be affected in Wisconsin. Officials there admit that their database is wrong one out of five times when it flags voters, sometimes for data discrepancies as small as a middle initial or a typo in a birth date. When the six members of the state elections board — all retired judges — ran their registrations through the system, four were incorrectly rejected because of mismatches.

As the gateway to voting, the new registration lists have become the focus of attention from many fronts, including voting rights advocates, officials concerned about fraud and political campaigns looking for an advantage.

It is “this season’s big issue,” said Wendy R. Weiser, who directs voting rights projects for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, noting that efforts to keep names off the lists are “a new trend, not in the majority of states but in the battleground states.”

The changes stem from the Help America Vote Act, passed by Congress in 2002 in the aftermath of the deadlocked presidential race two years earlier. The law provided millions of dollars for states to upgrade voting equipment and procedures, and to create the centralized databases, which allow voters in most states to check their registrations and polling places on the Internet.

The electronic lists have been coming online gradually, and for 31 states, this will be the first time they are used in a presidential election.

It seems to me that with the fear of voter fraud, states may have swung too far the other way which is now causing the opposite problem of certain voters getting mixed up on the wrong list.

More on this as it develops with these early voting states…