Electionmania 2012: Covering the Breaking News Chaos on Election Day

We’ve finally made it to election day. I’ll launch the election day live blog coverage with some good news: While the election battle may continue, the swarm of campaign ads on TV will end TODAY. That’s a true victory for all Americans.

Today the main event has commenced.
Obama v. Romney

First off, we head to Ohio where Secretary of State Jon Husted continues to try to come up with new ways to tilt the election. He has instructed election officials to install a last minute software patch to voting machines in 30 counties. The software patch is described as experimental and has not been certified. A lawsuit has been filed and a hearing was set to begin at 9:00 a.m. See coverage here and here.

10:15 UPDATE:
There is an allegation of problems with touch screen voting in Pennsylvania that is starting to get a lot of attention:

I’m the guy who shot the video, hopefully this doesn’t get burried. You guys have questions, I have answers.

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

Pennsylvania Voting Machine Switches Votes to Romney


The video may be simply a case of an isolated machine that needs to be calibrated. However, I do notice how these touch screen voting machines are not friendly to the growing number of fat-fingered citizens.

10:25 UPDATE

Here comes another story from Pennsylvania:

When I walked in, there were quite a few people in line, but it was moving quickly. The first person that greets everyone was a nice middle-aged woman. She hands everyone a piece of paper which is a form to fill in everyone’s name. The piece of paper with the name gets handed to the people with the signature books so that it’s easier for them to find the names in the book. When this woman handed me my paper, she said, “Have your photo ID ready”. I looked at her and asked, “But I don’t really need it, right?” She responded by saying, “I’m not allowed to say that.” My response was, “You are not allowed to tell people the truth and the law?” She said, “I’m just telling you what I was told. You’ll have to take it up with the people with the signature books.”
I couldn’t believe this was happening in my little town. I knew I was going to have to show my ID anyway because I was a first time voter at this polling station. I wasn’t expecting this, though.
I’ve already contacted the Democratic party in my county (Lehigh), and they said my call wasn’t the first one they have received with the exact same conversations taking place at other polling stations around the county. They said they are working on it.
I also tried to call 1-866-Our-Vote, but after hanging on the line for quite a while, I was eventually disconnected without ever getting to talk to anyone. Is there anything else that can be done?

It’s hard tell if it is an innocent mistake by the poll worker or if she is trying to suppress voters by unlawfully implying that an ID is required. Another takeaway from this story is that the voter protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) seems to be swamped already. Either there is a lot of funny business going on already, the lines are underresourced, or possibly Rove has a phone bank somewhere engaging in a denial-of-service effort underway (sneaky, evil, but effective).

10:45 UPDATE:

Now we have the expected report of scary Black Panther guy intimidating white voters at a polling place in Philadelphia.  http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2012/11/06/black-panther-philadelphia-polling-place-201/

I’m not seeing anything there where he claims to be a member of the Black Panthers.  Maybe if you wear a beret you’re a member.  If so, there’s tons of those guys all over France.  Nevertheless, something tells me white people who actually vote in this precinct are not going to be scared off by a random African American standing in the front of the building.

In other news, our favorite voter suppression organization was caught cutting corners in Ohio.  http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/11/05/true-the-vote-forged-signatures-to-get-observers-at-ohio-polls/  They were running out of time to get their new poll watcher recruits certified, and they bet no one was watching.

The FCBOE met today and determined that True the Vote had likely falsified the forms submitted for general election observers.    The new observer forms, filed over the past few days by True the Vote representative (and Hilliard Tea Party Member) Jan Loar, used candidate signatures copied from a previous set of forms filed in early October.  All but one of the six candidates whose names appeared on the original form had withdrawn permission to use their signatures prior to the submission of today’s forms.  During the BOE meeting Candidate Terri Jamison spoke up to say her name was “forged” on the latest round of forms. True the Vote observers will not be allowed in Franklin County polling locations tomorrow.

I guess their response might be, “When ‘True the Vote’ commits fraud, it’s not fraud.”

11:15 UPDATE:

Ruling expected before noon on the Ohio voting software patch lawsuit.  http://freepress.org/departments/display/19/2012/4786

11:30 UPDATE:

Here’s another story about an idiot poll worker in Pennsylvania:

My wife tried to use her employee ID, which is listed hereas a valid form of ID for first time voters. No go. Mr. Poll worker informed us it could only be a government employee photo ID – which I remembered was an accepted ID for the new state voter ID law – the one that was overturned! According to the link above, she should be able to use ANY employee ID.

I was prepared though. I thought this might happen. So I whipped out our utility bill, which has my wife’s name and address on it. Again, this is listed as an acceptable form of NON-photo ID for first time PA voters here. But no. Mr. Poll worker insists she needs a valid PHOTO ID. So then I pull up the page on my iphone and start reading it out loud to him. He is not interested. “I know what I’m doing, I’ve done the training. I have to do what the state tells me. It doesn’t matter what your website says.” I inform him “This is the state’s website!” that I am reading. He shrugs. Anyway, he asks if she has her Voter Registration Certification, which is just a piece of paper you get in the mail which basically is just a copy of what you typed in the form when you register online. Nowhere on the website does it say you need to bring this. No where on the Certification itself does it say to bring this. I assumed it was just to verify we were registered. Luckily, I had brought it. For whatever reason, the combination of this and her non-government photo-ID were an acceptable combination for this guy, and she got to vote.

Looks like they ran into one of these guys:
"True the Vote" Poll Worker

How can the poll workers be so ignorant of the law in PA. It’s been very controversial and in the news. I guess they apply the law as they wish it to be. There is no discriminating against the reality-impaired in hiring these election workers.

11:55 UPDATE:

True the Vote is now banned from Franklin Cty, OH.  http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/washington-whispers/2012/11/06/true-the-vote-barred-from-operating-in-franklin-county-ohio

12:20 UPDATE:

Here’s a nugget from someone working on the election protection units:

In Fresno, apparently 40% of the voters at one precinct who have appeared to vote today have been told that they are no longer on the rolls.  I said 40% (that one, if it doesn’t get fixed, is going to end up in court before noon today, I predict.)

My co-coordinator has been advised that in Minnesota, at one polling location “poll watchers” are taking pictures and video of people standing in line, and photos of vehicles containing more than 1 person in the parking lot.

And, finally, in my own precinct (a 99.99% liberal precinct in the ultra liberal Silicon Valley), ALL voters are being asked to produce ID or another “acceptable piece of paper” proving they are entitled to vote at their precinct, regardless of California law making clear that ID is required only if you are a first time voter who did not already provide ID as part of registering to vote.

Scary stuff going on.  In a close election, it only takes a little suppression to skew the results.  Don’t be intimidated, and thank you for waiting hours in line.

1:15 UPDATE:

Suppression, as feared, may be in progress in Ohio. The lines to cast provisional ballot are longer than regular ballots. http://freepress.org/departments/display/19/2012/4790 Although this could be because it takes longer to jump through the extra hoops to cast a provisional ballot (which will not be counted in Ohio for at least 10 days by law).

1:50 UPDATE:

The voting machine flipping votes in the video referenced above has been ejected from the game. On the way out it kicked some dirt on the umpire, but did not spit in his face.

2:20 UPDATE:

Sharing an amusing line of thought I had today: The goal of the voter suppression movement is, in part, to reduce the number of votes cast (presumably by their opposition), by making it as difficult as possible to vote. Waiting in line several hours to vote is quite taxing. Having to do so in the presence of screaming children is more so. If your child acts out in line, s/he deserves a contribution to his/her college fund from Karl Rove and American Crossroads for being a “Junior Vote Suppressor.”

2:45 UPDATE:

The judge ruled against issuing an injunction to stop the implementation of a controversial software patch on the voting machines in counties in Ohio. I’m not really surprised since this is one of those times where the horse is already out of the barn: votes have been cast on those machines, so it is to late to undo the patches. So Husted wins by installing changes after voting has begun. A judge can’t stop him. So he is free to come up with more patches if he thinks the results are showing that he needs them. A new law is needed so that these changes cannot be made to the voting equipment too close to the election, much like how states forbid changes to the voting rolls too close to the election.


7:45 UPDATE:

I just took part of my break writing this open letter to the media not to “call” Ohio prematurely.

8:05 UPDATE:

There is increasing concern about widespread problems in Pennsylvania. There are many more provisional ballots being cast than expected.

8:25 UPDATE:

Finally, an amusing update. We could all use a laugh break. Some poll workers in Florida and Colorado have turned away some voters from the polling place for electioneering. Their offense: wearing a college sweatshirt, specifically from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yes, they were thrown out because their shirts said “MIT.” Luckily, they were eventually allowed to vote.

9:00 UPDATE:

Here is a story of voter suppression from Maine.

A pair of Somali immigrants’ voting rights were challenged at the Ward 1 polling place at Washburn Elementary School on Tuesday, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine said. A poll-watcher for the Republican Party challenged the women’s citizenship, but did not go through with a formal challenge, according to Alisha Melnick, a lawyer with the ACLU of Maine.

Melnick said poll-watcher Gervis Legere, who lives in the precinct, questioned the women because they were registering to vote with the assistance of an interpreter. Maine law allows poll-watchers to challenge voters.

When Legere was told he would have to sign an affidavit swearing he had personal knowledge that the women were ineligible to vote, “he balked,” Melnick said.
Legere told the Sun Journal that he “had a feeling” the women were not citizens but did not want to proceed with the challenge because he had no proof.
“I learned you can’t go on feelings,” Legere said.

That’s right: just because you feel that Democrat-looking folks shouldn’t vote, doesn’t make it so.


That’s all for tonight.  I’ll be moving on to less taxing live-tweeting for the rest of the night.  May all your votes be counted.

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