Is your vote counted?

Guest Post by Paul Jones

Christian Stallberg, who founded the local Computer Professional for Social Responsibility chapter, sends this announcement:

Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel Presentation and Community Speak-Out on the Question of Voter Integrity
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 7-9pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall, 306 North Columbia St.

Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

David Price, US Congressman: 4th District

David Allen, Systems Engineer, publisher and tech consultant "Black Box Voting:
Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century"

Justin Moore, Computer Scientist, member National Committee for Voting Integrity

Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid Attorney, Advocates for Children's Services

Moderator, Christian Stalberg, founder, RTP Chapter of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility

(downloadable flier for printing available at

Paul Jones is the director of



What I've wondered is, were our early votes counted as though they were election day votes? Or were they considered "provisional" ballots and held to be counted only if there was a close race?

And does anyone know what happened to those 4000 or so NC votes that were lost? I lost track of that story somehow.

Thanks for posting this topic.

They will be voting again in Cartaret County in the one race that was close enough that the 4000 lost votes could have made a difference.

Early votes are counted as absentee at the moment. They were tabulated on election night.

The 4000 lost votes in Carteret County are enough to influence the outcome in just one race: Secretary of Agriculture.

The proposed solution is to have a new election for Ag Sec in Carteret County only and add the new Carteret totals to the existing totals from other counties. The new Carteret County only plan is being advocated by the Republican candidate. This does not seem fair to me, but it is certainly a lot cheaper than having a new statewide election which is what the Democrats are advocating.

Well, I haven't heard any Democrats advocate a statewide re-election (not that I'm that plugged in) but I do have to wonder why "Democracy at any cost" is the law we have for other countries but when it comes to our own elections, "cost" seems to be such a big hinderance to having an accurate vote count. Shouldn't an accurate vote accounting be a fundamental priority in America - at any cost?

Just to clarify a couple of points: yes, the Democrats -- and agriculture commissioner nominee Britt Cobb in particular -- are the ones advocating a new statewide election. Otherwise, the Republican is likely to win because Carteret is a GOP-leaning county. But in fairness, some Democrats (and others) believe that the only remedy to the lost 4,400 votes in Carteret is a new statewide election, as the law requires a new vote within the jurisdiction in case of a problem.

The Republicans, and GOP nominee Steve Troxler in particular, oppose the statewide-election remedy (as do most newspaper editorial pages, commentators of all stripes, etc.) because it is preposterous and, yes, costly. We have a list of the 4,400 people whose votes were lost in the machine. They can and should be contacted to fill out a new ballot, as they were the voters injured by the mistake. At the State Board of Elections hearing, Troxler's attorney drew a comparison to a malfunction on election night of an optical-scan machine: if a filled-out ballot cannot be read, the voter is allowed to obtain a new ballot and complete his or her vote. Allowing the 4,400 voters to get new ballots and complete their votes is legally similar, though obviously not temporally so.

Of course, another solution that most GOP partisans would like is to do nothing. Troxler wins in that event, and the remedies are arguably worse than the disease.

What the elections board came up with is absurd and pleases no one. As my friend Dan Blue, former speaker of the House, argued forcefully last night, it has a serious equal-protection problem because it allows thousands of voters who didn't choose to vote when they had the chance to do it now, but affords no similar second chance to other non-voting residents of the state. Also, if it stands, then the state superintendent race has to be re-opened because there will now be enough votes potentially to erase the lead of Democrat June Atkinson over Republican Bill Fletcher.

Whole thing's a mess. Best for all concerned would be for Britt Cobb to concede and retain some semblance of dignity. He may still do that. A statewide revote would be a travesty of justice, too, as it would throw out the legally cast and counted votes of millions of North Carolinians in an attempt to correct a vote-counting mistake in a single county.

I'm at the panel and blogging the talks as they happen.

I'm pretty sure that if the shoe were on the other foot and Kerry had won by a nose ~ and there were voting "anomolies" reported in a dozen or so states, a few of them key ~ that conservative Republicans wouldn't be freaking out. They'd simply go quietly and gracefully into the long dark night enjoying President Kerry's stated mandate, wondering what they might do to win "next time".

Seems like Secretary of Agriculture is the type of office that should be appointed by the Governor (or someone) anyway. John, getting new ballots from the 4400 people whose votes weren't counted does sound like a fair solution (and cheap).

And how would any of you like for your vote to count ONLY for Secy of Agriculture? We struggle to get young people to vote; what's their incentive when they hear that some votes just don't count?

I notice that the Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Education isn't just sitting down and accepting the votes as reported. But that's another story

My point throughout is that bad and unverified voting practices are bad for all candidates regardless of party. I would love it if John and Locke would take part in and promote verified voting as I see it as a democratic and republican cause not a Democratic or Republican one.

There will be national rallies at state capitals on December 12 at noon or 12/12@12. See a copy of the handbill info at

There have been repeated discussions on this list about institutional racism. If you want to see it in action, turn in to WUNC-radio or C-span and listen to the debate on the Ohio electoral vote (for those who don't know, the vote was challenged the Stephanie Tubbs-Jones and supported by Barbara Boxer).

The Republicans (and some Democrats) don't get that the debate is about process--they just want to talk about counts. Bernie Sanders (I) from Vermont and Barbara Boxer are heros for supporting the Black Caucus in this challenge!

Today's N&O has an opinion piece featuring Joe Capowski and his views on why cardboard ballots and optical scanners are a better option than touch-screen voting.

The heart of Joe's argument is that the cardboard/optical scanner method produces the raw data that the touch screens can't provide. Makes great sense, but just as important, is it really smart to let each county decide how it will vote?

Good job by the N&O for providing this assessment of voting in NC.


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