Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The San Diego Primaries

Well. I did my civic duty a few weeks back. It may even have counted. But with the electoral system out here in California, I have no great confidence. Time for a briwei rant on primary day in San Diego...

Last time I voted, we had those Diebold machines. You know, the ones that tell you that you voted, but offer no evidence that the votes you cast are what was recorded? Well, those machines were decertified for a wide number of reasons. Apparently, when an independent team was allowed to attack the system, they were able to corrupt the election database without needing access to the voting machines at all. Oh, and Diebold changed the software weeks before the election without informing the Secretary of State. So, we were back to paper ballots, which was fine with me. I feel qualified to color in an oval fully. I didn't know how it was going to play out until I got to my polling place. There's the background and now the rant.

The first thing that is ridiculous out here is how our polling places work. A cynical man might think it was designed to suppress voter turnout. Oh, wait. I AM a cynical man. My polling place was in someone's garage. Not a mechanic type garage either. This was a single-family residence two-car garage cleaned up for the purpose of hosting voters. There is no easy way to know where your polling place is and it isn't always the same place. The signage pointing out my polling place was poor, especially at night, but I found it anyway.

I walked in and got my ballot. As a voter unenrolled in an party, I was given the choice of American Independent or Democratic primary ballots. I could also have skipped the primary altogether and just voted on the ballot questions, but that is a whole other rant. I took a Democratic ballot while commenting that the Republicans didn't want my vote in the primary. They only wanted it in the general election. So, they don't want my opinion. Only my vote. This rankled the poll worker. "The Republicans aren't the only primary you can't vote in. You can't vote in the Green, Libertarian, or Peace and Freedom either." Excellent. So, we are putting the Republicans on par with those? If only. "That may be true. But of those, only the Republican candidate has a shot at being President." She grumbled a bit, but left me alone while I filled in my ovals.

While I was doing that, someone else asked about the electronic voting machines. She gave them a form they could fill out to submit to the registrar of voters requesting they bring the machines back. There was no form to request they be kept out. I chimed in. "I'm glad they're gone. I'd rather have a more secure and accurate way to vote." I think I pushed another of her buttons. She proceeded to proclaim loudly how insecure our votes actually were currently and how much more accurate the Diebold system was. It was on.

"Accurate? How accurate is a system that had precincts with well over 100% turnout during the last election?"
"That's because of provisional votes. Those have to be counted somewhere. This way they are securely recorded."
"Ah, yes. Our votes would be much more secure in a hackable, proprietary voting machine."
"It's not hackable!"
"Sure it is. There are plenty of examples of people who were able to pop open the back and hack them."
"Ah, but you need ACCESS to do that."
"Psh. Access is easy..."
"People don't have access!"
"They do if they have the machine before the morning of the elections, which is standard practice around here."

At that point she decided she was not going to convince me and I might sway others, so she shut up. When last we had paper ballots, I remember feeding mine into a machine that scanned and counted it. The people present had no way of opening the box. That was not the case this time. She took my paper ballot. She could have looked at it if she had wanted. Then it was stuffed into a slot in a cardboard box. Diebold may have been more secure than THAT, but that is not how we did it previously. I wonder if the system was intentionally made insecure to make us want to go back to the corrupt machines.

By the way, I don't buy that whole 'provisional vote' crap. For that to be true, the precinct would have to have close to 100% turnout AND have a large number of provisional ballots turned in there. That is beyond statistically improbable. As to the access question, I think I covered that two years ago with an article about No Sleepovers. In short, she's a partisan hack trying to influence electoral policy from her post as a neutral poll worker.

But don't worry. That wasn't the only questionable thing we encountered on election day. She-who-got-pretty-darn-frustrated didn't know where our polling place was. She saw some signs not too far from our house pointing to a polling place, so she naturally assumed that this must be ours. It was the polling place that was the shortest drive from our house, but the neighbor's garage may have been closer as the crow flies. There were three problems with this place. The first was that it was not her polling place. The second was that nobody there could help her find her actual polling place. And the third was that it was a church! So much for separation of church and state, eh? WWJVF?