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Stop living in denial and do some regular checking, for crying out loud

Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014

* From the Weekly Standard

Two Illinois voters say their attempts to vote early for Republicans on an electronic voting machine were registered as votes for Democrats—and they say have the video evidence to prove it.

* The video is starting to go viral

But scroll down through the hype and you get to this

Eventually, both voters were able to vote for the Republican candidates, as they say they preferred. They said the screen appeared to be poorly calibrated, so that while pressing anywhere in the box for a Democrat registered a vote for the Democrat, only pressing the bottom half of the Republican box did so for the Republican. The only way to make the correct vote, they said, was to press the incorrectly checked box to “uncheck” it, then press low in the Republican’s box. The voters say they were able to figure this out without calling over an election judge for help.

If you watch the video again, you can see that the person pressed right on the line dividing the two candidates. And they figured it out without assistance.

* More

Jon Schweppe, a spokesman for the Schilling campaign, says he called an official on the Illinois state board of elections on Friday afternoon about the voters’ complaints.

“I spoke with Bruce Brown at the Illinois State Board of Elections,” Schweppe says. “He called me back about an hour later after speaking with the Rock Island County Clerk’s office. He told me he suggested a full recalibration to fix the problem. He said it was a common problem and easy to fix.”

This really needs to be addressed by the State Board of Elections. Calibrations errors are easily overcome, but why are the machines going out of calibration in the first place? Shouldn’t there be regular testing throughout each day of voting if this is a problem?

* Also, a judge ruled against the GOP about another issue in the county

Rock Island County Clerk Karen Kinney addressed concerns about her handling of absentee ballots after a judge ruled in her favor Monday.

Kinney’s office has been the target of a Republican Party attack that not only is she opening ballots early and counting them but that her voting machines are calibrated in such a way that switches votes from Republican to Democrat.

Rock Island County Circuit Judge Lori Lefstein denied the GOP’s emergency injunction on the counting of absentee ballots.

“There is nothing wrong in this office,” Kinney, a Democrat, said afterward.

Keep in mind that the county clerk is facing reelection, and the unions have been pushing early voting very hard in RICO, so a bit of misdirection and over-playing of relatively minor problems is to be expected, like this press release from the IL GOP…

ILGOP Demands Action After Vote-Switching Video Surfaces

In wake of shocking vote-switching video in Rock Island County, ILGOP demands clerk stop pretending voting machines are calibrated correctly

Schneider: “The Illinois Republican Party will take any and all necessary legal action to ensure that every single voter’s voice is heard.”

Rock Island, IL – The Illinois Republican Party expressed shock and outrage over a video that surfaced today showing voting machines in Rock Island County calibrated to switch votes from Republican to Democrat.

The Rock Island County Clerk had previously dismissed multiple complaints of vote-switching as false and has yet to address a plan to fix her voting machines following the incident captured in the video.

“Earlier this week, we expressed deep concerns over reports of early voting machines in Rock Island County calibrated in a way that switches people’s votes from Republican to Democrat – similar to recent reports out of Cook County,” ILGOP Chairman Tim Schneider said. “The Rock Island Clerk ignored our concerns and claimed no problem existed. Following today’s shocking video, we renew our call on the Rock Island Clerk to immediately investigate the calibration of voting machines in the county. The Illinois Republican Party will take any and all necessary legal action to ensure that every single voter’s voice is heard.”

Despite the over-heated rhetoric, it can’t be said enough that if these machines have screen calibration problems then local officials need to make sure they’re tested throughout the day.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Person 8 - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    So I expecting to see someone push right on the name and the other name pops up. People are complaining when they push the line right in the middle?

    I get that it shouldn’t count as a vote at all, but come on. That’s like me shading in the dividing line and then complaining my vote got miscounted.

  2. - lil enchilada - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    Maybe they need glasses to see where to touch.

  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    When the problem surfaces that pressing on the edge of a selection results in a Republican vote, then this will be taken seriously.

    Naturally all machines should be calibrated before going online to collect votes. I would like to know why they are not prepared and why it is that it seems the default error favors the Democrats.

    We live in a year where there is extreme cynicism towards incumbents and the emotional intensity of voting against them results in moments when a rebellious voter feels blocked. Those favoring the status quo incumbents, since it appears that these errors favor them, have no empathy for these voters.

    As a matter of fact, I believe this posting will be followed by comments that this issue isn’t real, is staged, is nothing but victim complaints, along with something about how Republicans always prevent voters from voting, so these voting errors are ridiculous - etc…

  4. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    Honest mistake? I’ll believe that when I see the first example of a R vote changing to D

  5. - chi - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:40 am:

    Which state’s voter ID law would prevent this calibration issue?


  6. - Put the Fun in unfunded - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    I have no trouble figuring out the machines, and have voted on them. However, optical scan paper ballots are by far preferable, and leave a clear audit trail. As a former election judge, I can tell you that was overwhelmingly the format requested by the voters at my polling place who had physicial difficulties.

  7. - Del Clinkton - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    Technology is great. I couldnt imagine going back to “typing” a paper using a typewriter.

    Having said that, a paper ballot is the perfect technology for voting. Most Americans have taken a “scan” type test….where you fill in the bubble with your response. There just has to be a way to also scan the ballot as a “PDF” to be used for verification, if needed and then “shredded” when done.

    I do not like electronic ballots. Its not necessary.

    Amend the Constitution to include a Right TO Vote (currently not in there) and to use paper ballots.

  8. - Under Further Review - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    After the Florida recount (brought to you by Obama’s new “Ebola Czar” who worked for Al Gore along with Bill Daley) was the expensive overhaul of the election machinery.

    Lots of contracts awarded for touch screen and electronic voting machines. The old punch cards were cost effective and worked awfully well with a reasonably low rate of error, but after a tight election the unfairly maligned votomatic units had to go. In Cook County, this was probably unavoidable because the ballot was becoming too long for punch cards due to judicial retention listings.

    I have my doubts about the new voting machines which seem to require much more maintenance. Oh, yes, similar complaints about votes being cast for different candidates have also arisen from Maryland where Republican selections by voters were tallied as votes for Democrats.

  9. - patsy cline gurl - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    Last year at my polling place im Rock Island County a GOP election worker told me I had to show my ID to vote. This year I will have my video recorder ready because I found out it was straight up illegal to ask me to produce my ID to vote.

  10. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    VanillaMan, in case you didn’t know, actual use of the machines over and over again causes calibration to go out of whack. There is no calibration that lasts forever.

  11. - walker - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    To me it appeared they also pressed on the GOP side of the line, (not right in the GOP box) and also got a Dem response. It’s a problem to be tested for and fixed, for sure.

    Of course screen calibration errors can go the other way as well.

    But also note that votes are not actually counted until verified twice by the voter on the screen, and once with a paper record to be reviewed by the voter, (at least where I voted.)

    It’s very hard to get past those built-in voter checks with a wrong vote — and in these two cases the voters did not require any assistance to actually cast the votes they wanted to cast.

  12. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    VMan, are there no GOP incumbents?

  13. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Texas, straight ticket D votes changed to R.

    Grow up you tinfoil hat losers.

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    VanillaMan, in case you didn’t know, actual use of the machines over and over again causes calibration to go out of whack. There is no calibration that lasts forever.

    Then there ought to be a method of ensuring that every vote is counted correctly. If this is a reoccurring problem then we jeopardize the legitimacy of our elections.

    This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. When voters have difficulties and believe that their ballots are being manipulated in some way - it is a problem for everyone dependent upon our elections.

  15. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    Grow up you tinfoil hat losers.

    It appears we have evidence of this problem in more than one place. No one is wearing tinfoil on their heads. And if this situation worsens - we are all losers.

    That comment of yours is not only needlessly partisan, it is just anti-democratic and ugly. Over the months I recall you being fully in support of an ability of voters to vote, so your comment appears that you don’t care about the integrity of the method of voting?

    Tinfoil, indeed.

  16. - North - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    The machines should be calibrated at the beginning of every day, and again every time an issue arises.

    That being said, not one vote has been cast for an unintended candidate. If calibration issues are the extent of our difficulties, we are lucky.

  17. - Downstate Illinois - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    We need to be using optical scan paper ballots where voters actually can see the results of their own voting. Touch screens have too many issues, the calibration being just one. The lack of a paper trail is the second. There’s no way to audit the votes in a recount.

  18. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    Anti-democratic? You might want to pay more attention to what I write.

    The only person being “needlessly partisan” is you. I quote, “When the problem surfaces that pressing on the edge of a selection results in a Republican vote, then this will be taken seriously.” You were the one who said “this will be taken seriously” only when a D vote becomes R.

  19. - MikeMacD - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    —”The lack of a paper trail is the second. There’s no way to audit the votes in a recount.”—

    Touch screens used in Suburban Cook have a paper trail. The voter is asked to review it before casting their vote. It is used for recounts.

  20. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Paper ballots. Manual counting under the watchful eye of election judges from all parties with candidates on the ballot. Counting will take much longer, but that’s the only way this tinfoil hat wearing observer will have full confidence in elections.

    Electronic anything is just begging for shenanigans.

  21. - Ghost - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    My computer voting device has a hanging chad…..

    So if Rauner contributes to save the Supreme Court justice under fire from trial lawyers, can that justice hear rauners case challengeing the election?

    Btw I hope the justice wins his retention vote. Lawyer trying to force out judges who won’t rule form them is odious.

  22. - NIref - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    I do not necessarily agree that these are easily-solved problems. The problem with election administration is neither negligence nor malicious intent. Rather, unqualified election judges.

    Think about it, who is the average election judge? A retiree; the same retiree who has to call their grandchild to program the remote or use facebook. Hire election judges who are comfortable with the technology and problems stop.

  23. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:12 am:


    My iPad never needs to be calibrated. And it only cost a couple hundred dollars to make and most of that money did not go into the capacitive touch screen.

  24. - ??? - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    Precinct Captain, the example you cite happened in another state (a heavily Republican one, at that). I’m pretty sure Vanilla Man was talking about Ds turning to Rs in OUR state.

  25. - MLB #45 - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    I’m a Democrat and this happened to me in 2010. Admittedly, I was a bit alarmed at first. I was also working on a campaign for a candidate on the ballot at the time so I’m sure that added to my paranoia. This had to be some evil ploy by our opponent, right? I reported the problem to election officials at my polling location and our campaign manager. Our campaign manager and I were both told that it was a calibration issue and that it would be fixed. I cast my ballot by pressing a little lower than where my choice’s name was so it would register properly and we’re confident that the issue was fixed as soon as possible later that day.

    I think it’s understandable to be a little shocked when this happens but without more information I don’t think it’s a political issue. More than anything, it’s unfortunate that this happens for anyone (regardless of who you’re voting for) who may be rushed and not take the time to check his or her ballot. I think election boards need to do a better job of making sure these calibration issues don’t happen in the first instance.

  26. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:13 am:


    Agree but here is the problem.

    At first guidance from the Attorney General said that during early voting not ballots could be counted since no ballots could be counted until 7 PM on election day.

    The problem is if you gave someone a paper ballot the election worker would put it in the tabulator (since it is the top of the ballot box) and therefore the ballot would be counted (even if the results were not extracted from the machine) and against the guidance of the Attorney General (they have since said if the voter puts the ballot in the box/tabulator it’s ok).

    Also touch screen machines in Illinois do produce a paper trail that can be used for hand counting/audit if necessary.

    That being said, introducing some sort of calibration into the voting process directly (a touch here sort of thing) would not be a bad idea.

  27. - Louis Howe - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:13 am:

    Agree…paper ballots that are then electronically processed. I have enough problems with my Apple phone to know touch screens are a pain.

  28. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    PC - your tinfoil hate comment confirmed what I previously wrote about how the problem will need to become bipartisan before it is fixed.

  29. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    I could live with voting machines if it guaranteed we got the result at 7:05, but since that’s not what happens, why do we have it

  30. - Sue - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    You go Karen Kinney!

    Karen knows how to count the votes and she is doing a great job.

    One woman had three inch nails.

  31. - Under Further Review - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    Chuckle of the day: Chicago 5th Ward Alderman Hairston offering a raffle for constituents who exercised their right to vote.

    Totally illegal under the Illinois Election Code. The contest was shut down before it began. State’s Attorney to investigate.

  32. - A guy... - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Hey Campers, here’s the bright side of this. Because of the huge emphasis on this now, it may eliminate the scattered and sometimes abundant number of problems on Election Day itself. I’ve never been a part of one where there weren’t snafus, some deliberate, but most just odd coincidences. I believe every poll judge in the state will be on their toes on election day. Yay for Democracy.

    Someone argue. So I can verbally go all Slinger on you! lol

  33. - Rhino Slider - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    I never like to entertain conspiracy theories, but I have to admit the “calibration” errors always seem to favor Democrats.

  34. - Gone, but not forgotten - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    I had this problem last week when I early voted, however, I believe it was my fault. I have acrylic nails (not 3″ long but they interfere with the touch of your finger pads). I just made the wrong vote go away by re-clicking it and made my correct vote. I find that hitting the box with my knuckle, rather than my finger, worked. I also reviewed my vote, both on screen and on the paper that runs through the machine. It took slightly longer, but I was rewarded with the confidence that my vote was correct.

    -NIref: As a retiree who is serving for the first time as an election judge on Nov. 4, I take offense to your comment. I had to attend approximately 6 hours of training and do not consider myself inept at serving. Do you serve?

  35. - walker - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Rhino: If you read above, you will see that the calibration errors actually do go both ways. In Republican dominated states, they are most often reported as Dem votes showing as Republican ones.

    Who chooses to see conspiracy and victimhood, and to make it a press item, reflect other problems.

  36. - anon - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    I think most of us posting here don’t give a rip what happens in other states, we care what is going on in IL. Nice strawman though.

  37. - Pete - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    Think about it, who is the average election judge? A retiree; the same retiree who has to call their grandchild to program the remote or use facebook. Hire election judges who are comfortable with the technology and problems stop.

    How about requiring that everyone serve as an election judge as a form of civil service. Some countries require military service… We should require election service.

  38. - walker - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    anon: These have also been seen and reported by Dems as going to Republicans, in Illinois, including by a commenter above. I have seen it as a poll observer. It is a general, not partisan, problem — except in the eyes of the beholders.

    I only brought up the other states as an example of who is most likely to see themselves as victims.

  39. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 12:28 pm:


    Always thought they should require lawyers to do it every couple of years.

  40. - Curmudgeon - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    (from a Monday post)==James Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, which oversees nearly 1.4 million voters, said prohibiting any activity until close of polls would mean the state’s three-largest jurisdictions – Chicago, suburban Cook County, and suburban DuPage County – “would be delayed by multiple, multiple hours before reporting even one vote.”==

    Whaddya wanna bet ILGOP screams bloody murder that any delays in announcing results is entirely due to these counties delaying their counts until they knew how many straight-D votes were needed to be added to ensure Statewide winning totals for the Dems?

  41. - Wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    there hasn’t been straight-ticket voting in Illinois for 20 years.

  42. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Bigger deal than the butterfly ballot, less outrage. Yes, it is being overblown weeks before an election, surprise!

  43. - NIref - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    –As a retiree who is serving for the first time as an election judge on Nov. 4, I take offense to your comment. I had to attend approximately 6 hours of training and do not consider myself inept at serving. Do you serve?–

    I have been an election judge since 2008; and was young enough to be the grandchild of every other poll worker. Even with the training (which is poor at best), most election judges are technologically inept and wholly unqualified to be working with this technology.

  44. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    ===bigger deal than the butterfly ballot, less outrage===

    Oh, please. That butterfly ballot resulted in actual votes being cast the wrong way. No one has yet said they ended up casting a final vote because of a touchscreen error. Nobody.

    Take a breath already. Or leave.

  45. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    I’m guessing the number of voters in Rock Island County who have been disenfranchised is zero. It clearly shows who you voted for. If you didn’t intend to vote that way and you can’t get it fixed then you get somebody to help you.

    Yes, fix the problem. But enough with the conspiracy theories. We’ve gone from hanging chads to mis-calibrated machines. Ahhh, the 21st Century.

  46. - White Denim - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    So, if anything we’ve established that these “calibration errors” tend to favor the majority party of the particular state in question: Dems in Illinois and Maryland, and Republicans in Texas.

    That’s a problem. It’s not a partisan issue–it’s a real problem. How anyone can wave this off as some inconsequential conspiracy boggles the mind.

  47. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    ===tend to favor the majority party===

    No, just that it tends to be reported in the news media. You’ve got no data here.

  48. - Judgment Day - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    “VanillaMan, in case you didn’t know, actual use of the machines over and over again causes calibration to go out of whack. There is no calibration that lasts forever.”
    Not exactly correct.

    The ‘display’ of the ballot choices are formatted into different ballot ‘masks’. Happens for each election. The software developers working with the County Clerk/Election Commission have to setup the different ballot masks (you can have a lot of different ballot masks in just one County).

    Once they have the ‘masks’ built, they test and test and test some more. And it’s constant fixing. And then you have to run the final tests using sample ‘test decks’ where representatives from both parties sign off.

    And then you have to load the final vetted ballot ‘masks’ into the machines. Been a while, but as I remember more and more Counties are having dedicated voting machines for a particular precinct so they only have to load one/two ballot ‘mask’ on those machines (keeps things much simpler).

    If you went to a voting environment where anybody could walkin anywhere on every single voting machine, you have to store every different ballot ‘mask’ on those machines. That’s a lot of masks, and that may be where the calibration issues come from.

    Btw, developers tend to call these types of things “display” issues.

    Also, trying to re-calibrate a voting machine on election day is pretty problematic. If you are the tech (assuming the County even has a tech), you better have 2 reps from both parties watching everything you do - even video taping it. Personally, I’d just tell them to take that machine out of service. Imaging the response if the answer was “Just re-boot the unit”. On election day. The partisans on both sides will go nuts.

    The real answer is have the elections and hope and pray nothing goes wrong. There’s your answer.

  49. - drew - Wednesday, Oct 29, 14 @ 6:11 pm:

    are there places in Illinois where electronic machines are the mainstream form of voting? In the two counties I’ve voted, generally everyone fills out a paper ballot and puts it in the optical scanner. There’s usually one electronic machine in the corner, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone use one. I also thought that the security concerns about them were pretty widely known, so I’m surprised we’re still using them.

  50. - Irked - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    Calibration issues happen every year the touchscreens are used. It’s not a very large proportion of them- any county with a larger town will have a couple hundred of them- and if only 3,4 of them lose some of that calibration in the middle of the day, well, that’s still a better working rate than the average iPhone.

    What really is noteworthy, however, is that the fellow who took that youtube video is in deep, deep, deep doo-doo. Photographing or filming your ballot is a felony in Illinois, and don’t think for a second that the state isn’t hunting them down.

  51. - David S - Loves Park - Thursday, Oct 30, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    I could go do the exact same thing, probably on the very same voting machine these two jokers used and easily make it seem as if my D vote goes for the R instead! Just sayin’

    Its a matter of the calibration being off on those machines and NOT a matter of voter/election fraud of any kind. If anything, these situations only add to the very fact that we should simply rid ourselves of electronic voting machines fully and completely!

    As a side note, I’m of the opinion that if every single registered Democrat voted, the GOP would never win another election ever again!

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