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Sunday, November 07, 2004

CRAP ON A CRUTCH!! E-voting errors plague too close to home

Okay, NOW it's personal. Guilford County is where we live and a 22,000 vote difference is a MAJOR fraggin' thing. From The Charlotte Observer (registration required) a few days ago...

Winner so far: Confusion
Agriculture, education races change as counties fix vote-tally errors
Raleigh Bureau

RALEIGH - Winner so far: Confusion Agriculture, education races change as counties fix vote-tally errors Mark Johnson

RALEIGH -- For a few brief hours on Wednesday, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb saw his Tuesday election loss turn to a win.

By Thursday, he was losing again.

"These results are changing. They are going up and down," said Cobb's spokesman Marc Siegel. "We don't believe any of it until we get the final, confirmed results." That won't be until later this month.

The roller coaster of fate was caused by vote-counting glitches in at least five counties besides Mecklenburg. Foul-ups ranged from stubborn levers to a computer error that changed some results by 22,000 votes and, in Carteret County, 4,500 votes that were lost and may not be recovered.

Two statewide races are at issue: agriculture commissioner and N.C. superintendent of public instruction.

Democrat June Atkinson switched from loser to winner, for now, in the public instruction race.

"Things like this have happened before, but not to this magnitude and level," said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections. "There are more things at stake because there are closer races than at any other time."

Bartlett's staff is working with county officials to resolve problems. Election results won't be certified until Nov. 23, so county and state officials have more time to correct errors.

Mecklenburg officials released corrected vote counts Thursday night that changed the totals, but not the winner in either the agriculture or public instruction race.

The biggest change in vote totals outside Mecklenburg was in Guilford County, which includes Greensboro. The computer that tabulates the totals choked when officials uploaded the early voting numbers, which was a particularly large batch of data.

"So it just threw some of (the votes) away," said Guilford County elections director George Gilbert.

Before the votes were retallied, Cobb, who looked like a loser on election night, had won by 1,500 votes, according to the elections board's Web site. Gilbert, though, had backup tapes that contained the vote tallies.

When he retrieved those numbers and gave the corrected figures to the state board of elections, Cobb had an additional 4,000 votes and his Republican opponent, Steve Troxler, another 13,000. Troxler was the apparent winner again.

The new Guilford numbers boosted Atkinson's votes by nearly 12,000 in the superintendent's race, putting her ahead of Republican Bill Fletcher, who got 3,000 more votes in the update.

The Guilford totals didn't change President Bush's win in the state, but did shift the vote total by 22,000.


And electronic voting is supposed to be mandatory everywhere by 2006?

In a sane world, someone would have been dragged out into the street and shot for plotting something like this. What with all the other reports coming in, there's just one thing that really comes to mind if we're going to maintain any semblance of democracy in this country: hold new elections for those places with electronic voting, this time with auditable paper ballots. To Hell with getting sworn into office in December or January or whenever: there's a lot more at stake here than when some politician gets Two Men and a Truck to drop off the furnishings for a swanky D.C. congressional office. This is now something way past "Democrat versus Republican", and to suggest that it is - in my book anyway - suggests the worst kind of treason: selling out America for political partisanship. And if the Powers That Be cannot respect the sanctity of our votes, then We The People are no longer under any moral or even legal obligation to respect the Powers That Be, at all.

Parse that as you wi... on second thought, I'll spell it out: if our own government has grown so corrupt as to artificially massage voting tabulations, then the American people hae the ethical duty to overthrow those people in government who are responsible. By any means necessary, if worse comes to worst. Seriously. This is an abrogation of the authority that God gave this nation's citizens over their own country and if we allow THAT to happen, we live in defiance of God. Sedition laws be damned: if government is revolting against us like this, we've the right to revolt against it.