Politics Rochester Technology

New York State testing new ballot-counting system in Monroe County reported last week that two counties in New York State would be participating in a program to test new software by Clear Ballot that speeds election results audits. Clear Ballot indicated that Monroe and Schenectady counties would be participating. The New York State Board of Elections confirmed the Wired article, but  Monroe County officials are unfamiliar with the company and its product.

The United States Election Assistance Commission recently created a grant program to research methods to improve the logistics of Election Day voting, as well as recounts and audits of ballot results. The State of New York Board of Elections was awarded $230,000. The state contracted with Clear Ballot to test its systems for post-election audits.

Via Twitter, I asked Clear Ballot ( @clearballot ) which two counties would be participating in the program. Clear Ballot responded Monroe and Schenectady Counties would be participating:

@dragonflyeye We’re working directly with the NY State Board of Elections, and then Monroe and Schenectady counties.

That tweet has since been removed.

State officials say the new pilot program will not be done with live ballots, but with ballots from this September’s primary elections. The counties of Monroe and Schenectady were selected as test centers because they tally votes using different ballot scanning systems.

Monroe County Board of Elections Commissioner Tom Ferrarese replied via email to my query that they had been contacted about a potential test of a new ballot counting system. But they said they have not heard anything further from the State:

A few months ago the State Board of Elections asked us if we, the Monroe County Board of Elections, would at some point in the future be willing to participate in a pilot testing a new system that would allow us to audit ballots using high speed scanners in an independently programmed system.  We indicated that we would be willing to do so.  Since then, we have heard nothing back from the State Board and are not in communications with the Clear Ballot folks nor were we even aware of their existence.

Mr. Ferrarese further stated that they would not feel comfortable changing their hand-count auditing system for this election cycle, which he says has worked well for the County in the past.

It’s not clear why the state would use Election Day to run tests, if the tests don’t require live ballots. Perhaps story got that part of the story wrong.

I contacted Schenectady County Board of Elections officials to find out if they knew anything about Clear Ballot, but they have not yet responded.


From Suppression to Enfranchisement in Ohio

I’m sure the Republicans will find a way to fuck things up for the less fortunate – after all, how can you pull yourself up by your bootstraps without Republicans to knock you down to your knees? – but an Ohio judge ruled yesterday that the homeless can register park benches as valid addresses when voting.  He also ruled that a vote cannot be discarded due to poll worker errors.

So it looks at the moment as though a whole lot more people will be getting to vote and have their sovereignty respected – in Ohio, anyway.


Voter Purge: Ohio Edition

Just your daily update on what’s going on in the world of disenfranchisement: Ohio is questioning the ballots of 200,000 newly registered voters, siding with Republicans who questioned them.


The Purging Has Begun

This election season’s round of voter role purging has begun early and in earnest.  Inside Higher Education is reporting today that Montomery County in Virginia, home of Virginia Tech, has sent out mailers which even defenders admit are misleading.  The mailers claim that a student registering to vote in Virginia might be throwing away their right to be claimed by their partents on tax forms and insurance.

Other reports from Ohio and other battleground states prove that the purging will be fierce this season.  On the other hand, there’s probgably never been a Democratic machine as well-organized on the ground as the Barack Obama volunteer team.  That means there is some pre-election push-back to be had in places like this.  The trouble comes in poorer communities whose access to information, particularly on the Internet, is at best limited.

So the battle is joined.  And we can all clearly see, the battle is hottest on the GOTV vs. voter suppression front.