Re: FW: [USDemocrat-DisabilityIssues] The Election and Accessible Ballot Marking Devices

From: Election Technology <electiontechnology_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Thu Nov 06 2008 - 10:19:02 CST

Just a note on pollworkers discouraging the use of BMDs and other new
technologies. I've found it someone common that pollworkers will discourage
the use of "new" machines when given the option, but the most common reason
I've seen isn't related to trust or personal opinion. If a voter uses a
paper ballot with BMD versus with an assistant on the lever machine, it's
more work for the pollworker. They have to change their normal process for
that voters and remember all the new steps. Undoubtedly when introducing
paper, there are also significantly more steps and forms added at the close
of polls as well.

I'm not condoning these actions, nor am I saying their necessarily always
conscious on the part of the pollworker. I'm also not intending to
discourage paper based systems, just stating the facts as I see them.

 - Chris Backert

On Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 6:09 AM, Jim Tobias <> wrote:

> Here's a story, and disability-related comment, that should keep us
> focused on how voting technologies are actually used, rather than how they
> are designed to be used.
> ***
> Jim Tobias
> Inclusive Technologies
> +1.908.907.2387 v/sms
> skype jimtobias
> ------------------------------
> *From:* []
> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 05, 2008 10:04 PM
> *To:*
> *Cc:*
> *Subject:* [USDemocrat-DisabilityIssues] The Election and Accessible
> Ballot Marking Devices
> Not great news in the stories below. Governor Paterson chose to vote on
> the lever voting machines.
> Also, while one particular voter did vote successfully in Harlem on the
> BMD, the story caught poll workers discouraging use of the BMD
> because…they didn't trust the machine…they weren't going to announce or
> encourage its use – people should have known about it from the
> news…they wanted people's votes to count…and one worker said it was
> broken. Was this kind of misinformation and discouragement a part of
> their training, a reflection of their lack of information and fear of
> technology, or an effort to sabotage use of the new system? It
> certainly wasn't compliance with the Federal Court order.
> Are poll workers going to act this way when they have to replace all of
> the lever machines and the general population has to vote on new
> technology? Boards of elections have to get their acts together and
> enter the 21st century!
> There were other complaints that have been communicated over the past
> day. Hopefully they will be documented and become public knowledge.
> Brad Williams
> ----------------------------------------------------------
> ------
> The New York Times
> November 4, 2008, 12:32 pm
> Paterson Votes, With Help From His Wife
> By Jeremy W. Peters
> Governor David Paterson voted at Public School 175 in Harlem. (Photo:
> Michael Nagle for The New York Times)
> Gov. David A. Paterson, like any high-profile politician who votes on
> Election Day, has to maneuver around obstacles that don't encumber
> ordinary voters.
> He has to stop and talk with constituents who want a hug, a picture or
> a few moments of his time to air their concerns – like the Metropolitan
> Transportation Authority worker who asked the governor on Tuesday
> morning to help him get a raise.
> Then there are the reporters, photographers and video crews who follow
> his every move, making it a chore just to get through the door.
> But for Mr. Paterson, who is completely blind in his left eye and has
> very limited vision in his right eye, there is also the issue of basic
> voting mechanics: How does he cast his ballot?
> As it turns out, he usually doesn't. His wife, Michelle Paige Paterson,
> usually pulls the lever for him.
> When Mr. Paterson walked into the gymnasium at Public School 175 on
> 135th Street in Harlem on Tuesday morning to vote, Mrs. Paterson was at
> his side, looking every bit the first lady in a brilliant pastel blue
> jacket and black suit pants. After they both signed their names in the
> voter registration log, Mrs. Paterson entered the voting booth first,
> alone, and cast her ballot.
> She then stepped out to join Mr. Paterson, who escorted her by the arm
> back into the booth. The curtain closed behind them, and they remained
> inside for about a minute before the clunk indicated that the lever had
> been pulled and that Mr. Paterson's vote had been cast.
> On his way out of the gymnasium, Mr. Paterson joked to reporters that
> he insisted he pull the lever this time.
> "I voted for Senator Obama for president. And I pulled the lever myself
> because Senator McCain called Michelle last night. Usually she pulls
> the lever for me, but I wanted to make sure," he said with a chuckle.
> Mr. Paterson, who was at P.S. 175 for about a half hour before he
> actually voted because the crowds were so large, marveled that he had
> never seen such high turnout at his polling place.
> "I haven't seen lines like these even when the machines were broken,"
> he said.
> Mr. Paterson, New York's first black governor, spoke about the historic
> significance of being able to vote for a black presidential candidate
> and added that in that sense, "It's an honor to stand on this line."
> He said he did not expect to see a black person nominated for
> president, let alone be the apparent front-runner in the race.
> "I think that even a number of people around the country who do not
> vote for Senator Obama will notice, should he win, what an
> extraordinary moment this is in American history," Mr. Paterson said.
> "If you're a woman, if you're Hispanic, if you're disabled, if you are
> elderly, whoever you are, you kind of know that your chances to succeed
> in your endeavor have to be better if Barack Obama wins the presidency.
> And for those who don't succeed there are now fewer excuses."
> The New York Times
> November 4, 2008, 2:15 pm
> Confusion Over New Ballot Machines for Disabled
> By Kathryn Carlson AND Ann Farmer
> Updated, 5:08 p.m. | This year, ballot-marking devices — intended to
> help disabled voters vote without assistance — became available in all
> 1,351 polling places in New York City.
> The ballot-marking machines enable voters to make their selections by
> touching a computer screen — or, less commonly, by "puffing" and
> "sipping" air through a straw, pumping a foot pedal, or pressing flat
> plastic shapes — two triangles, a circle and a square — affixed to the
> four corners of a specially configured keyboard.
> But the new ballot-marking devices, introduced in 2006 and not
> available citywide until this year, have generated considerable
> confusion and uncertainty among poll workers and voters, as evidenced
> by the scene today at one polling place, Public School 149 in Harlem.
> Voters there complained that there were only two voting machines in
> use, while the ballot-marking device had been sitting unused since
> polls opened at 6 a.m.
> When asked why the ballot-marking device — which is based on a touch
> screen — was not open for use, a Democratic district leader at the
> polling place, William Allen, said that nobody in line was willing to
> use it because of fears that votes would be miscounted for the wrong
> candidate or not counted at all.
> At that moment, Susan L. Chute, a librarian at the New York Public
> Library, who was waiting in line and overheard Mr. Allen's comments,
> piped up and offered to use the machine, and said she was angry that it
> had not been announced as an option six hours earlier, when polls
> opened.
> "People have been welcome to use the machine, but I'm not going to make
> an announcement or encourage it," Mr. Allen said. "People should know
> about it from the news, and they can ask to use it," he said, adding,
> "I don't trust the machine, and I know people want their votes to
> count."
> Mr. Allen did say that Ms. Chute could go ahead and use the machine
> when it was her turn, but a poll worker initially told Ms. Chute that
> the machine was broken. Mr. Allen then spoke with the poll worker, and
> they determined that the machine was actually fit and ready for use.
> Ms. Chute, who waited in line for nearly four hours, said she was
> frustrated that she and those who voted before her were never given an
> opportunity to decide for themselves whether they would use the new
> machine.
> "Why wouldn't anyone have mentioned that earlier?" She said. "There
> should have been an announcement and the people at the roll book should
> have told people they could use the new machine."
> "It's very easy to use," she added. "It's like an A.T.M. machine.
> People use screens like that every day."
> After Ms. Chute asked to use the machine, Mr. Allen made a quick
> announcement to the people in line in the multipurpose room that they
> could use the ballot-marking device, and poll workers at the front of
> the line started asking voters if they would like to use the
> touch-screen machine.
> Some people did start using it, and placed their paper ballots into a
> rickety cardboard box that was not sealed or reinforced in any way.
> "This might speed things up now," said Deitra Herbert, as the hour was
> now approaching 1 p.m. and the line continued out to the schoolyard. "I
> think the machine is fine. There's no levers, just a simple touch
> screen. It's actually quite quick to use."
> While other voters in line said they did not trust the machine and
> would be using the lever-style booths instead, Ms. Chute said she was
> confident that her vote was accurately cast.
> "I do trust the machine, but I also know that my candidate has New York
> so I'm not too worried," she said, adding: "Even if it were a closer
> election here, I'd still use the new machine. I trust that it works
> just as well as the lever kind."
> Nicky Jackson, 39, said she was not so sure that the machine is
> reliable. "I don't know or trust that machine; I've never seen it
> before," she said. "I'll be using the lever machine. And I'm not mad
> people haven't been told they can use it, because I'd rather have a
> longer wait and know that things are accurate than have the line move
> more quickly but not know if things are being counted right."
> Darlene Johnson, 45, a legal assistant, said she shared Ms. Jackson's
> opinion. "My feet and back are telling me to use that machine, but I'm
> just nervous about the accuracy," she said, adding that her boss said
> to take as much time as she needed to vote. "I've been waiting 3 hours
> and 17 minutes. I know people just want to vote, but people might not
> use it because they don't trust the system."
> In other places, though, disabled voters said they appreciated the
> ballot-marking devices.
> At Public School 62, in Richmond Hill, Queens, Raymond Baksh, an
> unemployed, blind man in his 40s, used the ballot marking device.
> Usually, he said, "my dad goes inside and helps me" use the voting
> booth.
> "This year I did it on my own," Mr. Baksh said. "It was easy. It was
> more easy this way. If you know Braille, it's easy."
> A voice comes on inside a headpiece and instructed him what to do; Mr.
> Baksh used Braille to make his selection. After he finished voting, a
> scanned ballot came out, which was placed into a ballot box.
> In voting without assistance, "you have more privacy," Mr. Baksh said,
> declining to say whom he had voted for.
> Elena Carpenzano, 29, a student who was working the polls at the school
> where Mr. Baksh voted, said she had received training to be able to
> show voters how to use the device.
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