Who did your ES&S touch screen electronic voting machine vote for?

Who did your ES&S touch screen electronic voting machine vote for?

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is the person in charge of elections in Tennessee. His job is to:

1) Guarantee that our election process is secure
2) Give us working systems that accurately record each vote
3) Ensure that the right candidate wins

In other words, Mr. Hargett is entrusted with the most fundamental tool of our democracy.

So, why does he want a machine to pick your candidate for you?

Earlier this month during a special election in Williamson County, Karen Carter attempted to vote for one candidate and the ES&S iVotronic touch screen electronic voting machine flipped the vote to his opponent.

Karen didn’t vote. The machine voted for Karen.

Tennessee uses the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen electronic voting machine in 17 counties.

So is this incident of a machine instead of a voter choosing an elected representative isolated to Williamson County?


During the 2008 presidential election, a voter in Davidson County touched the screen for one candidate only to have the box next to another candidate light up. (Ironically, it was the wife of Uncounted filmmaker, David Earnhardt).

So are both of these incidences of a machine instead of a voter choosing elected representatives isolated to Tennessee?


In 2008 there were also incidences of machines choosing our elected representatives on the same iVotronic touch screen electronic machines recorded in Jackson, Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties in West Virginia.

And in Saline County, Kansas, the rise of the iVotronic touch screen electronic voting machines also occurred in three precincts. The local paper described the problem:

“When a voter pressed a certain candidate’s bar on the voting machine’s screen, the candidate above the selected candidate instead received the checkmark.”

Machines choosing our elected officials is a well-documented problem (also in Texas!) that affects 22,619 ES&S iVotronic voting machines.

In October 2008, the Brennan Center warned the Secretaries of State in 16 states of this problem.

Tennessee was one of those states.

Even though the ES&S machines have well-documented problems and there is a Tennessee law in place that, if implemented, would disenfranchised machines and enfranchise, you know, the citizens of the state, Mr. Hargett refuses to give Tennesseans back their precious right to vote by throwing these machines on the trash heap where they belong.

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18 Responses to “TN Constitution: Elections Shall be Free and Equal, and the Right of Suffrage Shall Never be Denied to Any…Machine?”

  1. [...] Tennesseans deserve to secure and accurate elections – the kind that we can’t get now because the voting machines we use simply do not work. [...]

  2. [...] Because the touch-screen electronic voting machines we use now are broken. And how can Tennesseans get the secure and accurate elections they deserve while voting on broken [...]

  3. [...] Because the touch-screen electronic voting machines we use now are broken. And how can Tennesseans get the secure and accurate elections they deserve while voting on broken [...]

  4. Mary Mancini says:

    Great idea, Dean. Election integrity is non-partisan. Or at least it should be.

  5. Dean says:

    As an aside, I watched “Recount” yesterday morning on HBO. Really good movie about the 2000 Florida election, and done mostly in a bi-partisan way. A lot of Florida’s problems arose from outdated law and outdated equipment.

    Given the importance of elections, it makes me wonder if it would make more sense to have a non-partisan board oversee elections, rather than the Secretaries of State.

  6. Mary Mancini says:

    Thanks for trying, Bernie, but Ryan is a walking right-wing extremist talking point (boy that would have made a great Halloween costume). I mean, for him to write that this post gives “examples of broken voters, not broken machines” shows just how far he is willing to go to advance his agenda instead of what is clearly advantageous to the people of Tennessee.

    I think anyone else but Ryan would understand that if you press a button on a touch screen machine – be it a voting machine or an ATM – and that button either fails to light up OR a different selection lights up, then it is clearly a problem with the machine.

    Since Ryan is “unable” to understand this, we can only conclude that he is indeed a right-wing extremist who puts his own agenda in front of what the voters of Tennessee deserve – fair and accurate elections.

    The voting machines we use in Tennessee do not work. They are broken.

  7. Ryan says:

    Bernie, I’m sophomoric. You aren’t.. good point.

  8. Bernie Ellis says:

    So … you don’t know who your Daddy is?

    If you don’t believe your behavior here on this web-site has been anything but a non-stop broken record of insults against Mary, common sense and the democratic process; you might want to have your meds checked. With a statement like “I don’t insult people”, you clearly lack any evidence of self-awareness.

    As for us disagreeing on most issues, how would you know? If you knew how to participate in civil and informed discourse, it might be possible for the rest of us to know what you think. However, your role here is to be disruptive. That is not only unnecessary, but it is sophomoric and it is boring.

    Maybe your time would be better spent discovering the identity of your father. When you find out who he is, please let the rest of us know. (Or don’t.)

  9. Ryan says:

    Bernie, I don’t insult people. I’m sorry that having an opposing view on most issues is insulting to you.

    I don’t think you are my father.. so you don’t owe my Mom anything.. why are you interested in my family tree?

  10. Bernie Ellis says:

    No, Ryan, I thought I’d give you a taste of your own medicine. I have never seen any post of yours here that is distinguishable from any other. Everything you say here is ill-spirited, uninformed and insulting of this site’s hosts. Since I’ve spent five years working for verifiable elections here in Tennessee, I can’t mimic your uninformed tirades. But I can be insulting, particularly when given good cause. (Just ask Uncle Tre.)

    Who’s your daddy, Ryan?

  11. Ryan says:

    Bernie, I won’t respond to your personal attacks on me, but they are noted. Thank you.

    I’m too “deluded” to make sense of the hogwash.

    Did you notice what we are talking about in this conversation? Something about voting.. and people’s votes not being counted correctly…

    I guess a more appropriate response from you would have been.. “no Mary, I can’t help you out with that one.. but I can copy and paste something I typed out 10 minutes ago from another response (because I can’t possibly have two different responses on “one” issue.”

  12. Bernie Ellis says:

    This is my first time to respond to Ryan, mainly because he seems to be a shrill sophomoric shill for our ball-less (and law-less) Secretary of State. But Ryan’s dribble cannot go unanswered. I just posted a response to another of Ryan’s tirades here on Liberadio defending DREs over paper ballots/opscan. Since he seems to be a one-trick pony here, I thought I would copy that response here also. So here goes: (Ryan’s babble is in quotes.)

    “There are lots of logical reasons not to use optical scan machines and paper ballots.

    1) People that are handicap (sic) have a much harder time with a pencil and paper than a DRE.”

    The TVCA requires ballot-marking devices for disabled voters in every precinct so that their votes can be recorded on the paper ballot without the need for the disabled voter to use paper and pencil. (Read the bill, numb-nuts)

    “2) It is much slower to scan a few million paper ballots (and much more room for error) than to hit the “get results” button.”

    The paper ballots are scanned in the precinct as they are cast. At the end of the evening, the precinct-based opscan produces the vote totals with its own version of a “get results” button. However, the paper ballots remain available to be recounted manually to audit the accuracy of the opscan, to validate close elections and to deal with other problems that might arise from the opscans. Again, Ryan, if you had ever bothered to learn anything about the TVCA or precinct-based opscan voting, you would know that. But you do seem to be allergic to facts and the reality-based world.

    “3) There is a much greater chance for fraud with a paper ballot system. Ballots can get “lost”.. or if the bubble isn’t filled in correctly, the vote could not even be counted. Better yet, some human could have to decide voter intent when that situation arises. I can’t imagine trying to pick intent of a voter I didn’t know, from a piece of paper with some dots on it.”

    Tell me, Ryan, which is easier — filling out hundreds (millions) of fraudulent replacement paper ballots (all of which would be detectable if the unique numbers assigned to each ballot were examined by election officials) or entering a few lines of malicious computer code to flip all those votes in DREs or central tabulators without possibility of detection? (In case you don’t recognize it, that, Ryan, is a rhetorical question.) If a ballot is filled out incorrectly, the precinct-based opscan rejects the ballot and allows the voter to recast her vote. That reduces dramatically the number of ballots that require a review by poll officials to determine voter intent. In cases where determining voter intent is necessary, the voter’s intent is usually easy to detect on a paper ballot (again, something you would know, Ryan, if you knew anything about this subject.)

    “4) A paper ballot takes 3 minutes plus to fill out, a machine takes 1 minute, tops. This contributes to long lines and deters people from voting.”

    Ryan, if you weren’t so full of shit, you’d be an empty hard-drive. This statement of yours has no basis in reality whatsoever. Optical scan voting is 10-15 times faster than voting on DREs, primarily because the act of completing the ballot is separated from counting the ballot. Thus, faster voters can complete their paper ballots and have them counted while slower voters are still completing their ballots — the faster voters are not forced to wait on the slower voters before they too can vote.

    We conducted a simulation here in Tennessee comparing two groups of 21 voters apiece, one group voting on paper ballots/opscan and the other on a DRE. The fastest voter in each group took 3 minutes to vote and the slowest in each group took 13 minutes. (Each voter-pair in the two groups stair-stepped their time to vote by 30 seconds to cover the time between the fastest and slowest voters.) In this simulation, the entire group of 21 voters in the paper ballot/opscan group was finished voting in 13 minutes (all of them). The DRE group, whose individual voters took the same amount of time to vote as their paired voters in the opscan group, took 2 hours and 43 minutes before all voters were finished voting. That is why ridiculously long lines have become commonplace in DRE precincts and are virtually nonexistent in paper ballot/opscan precincts. (I am happy to send this simulation to anyone here who wants a copy.)

    “5) A paper ballot can be ruined. Coffee can be spilled on an entire stack of paper ballots. Oops.. let’s call all these people and have them come back to vote again.”

    That’s why — when paper ballots are recounted — the vote-counters take care not to spew anything on the ballots. (Duh.) Besides, even coffee-soaked paper ballots can be read manually so there would be no reason to recall the voters. Of course, a single line of malicious computer code in a DRE or central tabulator could flip every single vote and no one would be the wiser.

    Ryan, you are one deluded (and under-employed) lap-pig for the TN/RICO. Since your last name is Blackwell, that should come as no surprise to the rest of us. Tell me, Ryan, who’s your daddy? (Kenneth Blackwell, that famous 2004 Ohio election thief, perhaps?)

    OK, that’s enough information for your little mind to process today. If, that is, your mind can process anything. Please get back to earning a living as a part-time landscaper, because I am sure your parents would like their basement back. You might consider another career as a zoo-doo-scooper, where shoveling elephant shit might actually be a good thing.

  13. Ryan says:

    Mary, you haven’t made one valid point as proof to the machines being broken. Personally, I think there is ALWAYS room for improvement, no matter what.

    The burden of proof is on you, since you are convinced we have a failed system. How are they broken? The blog gave examples of broken voters, not broken machines.

  14. Mary Mancini says:

    The machines are broken, Ryan. I’ll ask you again, how can you defend Tennesseans voting on broken voting machines?

    Tennesseans deserve secure and accurate elections and a voting system that will give them secure and accurate elections.

    Tennesseans should not be voting on broken election machines.

  15. Ryan says:

    I explained how you lied, and you bring up ATMs? A touch screen isn’t going to be correct for everyone except four people.. those four people are obviously at fault… If they are too incompetent to vote with a machine… imagine how they would butcher a paper ballot.

  16. Mary Mancini says:

    The voting machines are broken, Ryan. I’m not sure how you can defend Tennesseans voting on broken voting machines. This is our democracy we’re talking about here. The very foundation of our government.

    If it was an ATM machine that was behaving this way you wouldn’t stand for it.

    Imagine pressing the button for $100 but the button for $20 kept lighting up?

  17. Ryan says:

    “(Mr. Hargett) wants a machine to pick your candidate..” You lied, again, Mary.

    I don’t understand how it is ok for you to say untrue things, and put fear in the voting system. If Mr. Delgiornio did that, you would write a blog about him.

  18. Ryan says:

    Mary, do you really think that your viewers/listeners are morons?

    Have you ever voted? Obviously not, or you wouldn’t come up with such a stupid idea of how voters were cheated.

    This is how it works…

    First, you touch the screen by the candidate you choose.
    Second, a check-mark appears beside their name.
    Third, you press the button that you want to confirm the vote of the people with the check-marks.

    So, in each of your examples, was the person too dumb to go back between steps two and three to correct the vote that “the machine chose for them”? Or, how did that work?

    You see, the machine doesn’t tally your vote as soon as the check-mark appears. It makes sure that is really who you want to vote for, first. Then the vote button is an actual button.. NOT on the touch screen.

    It is pretty idiot proof, but you have obviously never used it.

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