Previous   Next

Do you think there is cause for concern about electronic voting machines?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on November 6, 2006

Browse the archives

Photo of Mark Caplinger

“No. I trust technology. I think it makes it operate more smoothly and gets faster, more accurate results.”

Photo of Kyle Kraft

“No. I’ve used them before and they worked fine. I was in and out in five minutes. It was great.”

Photo of Barbara Thompson

“I think there is a possibility of problems based on reported inconsistencies and problems throughout the country.”

Photo of Connell Alsup

“Anytime you have something electronic, there is cause for concern. There is always room for error - technical and human.”


Topside 11 years ago

Mark Caplinger obviously learned nothing from the Terminator movies.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Topside, maybe it was the state of California that didn't learn anything from the Terminator movies...

sunflower_sue 11 years ago

Nov 22nd is start your own country day, and since I (and several others on the OTS) will be doing just that, it doesn't matter how the elections come out. (Look for my pre-recorded message to be on your answering machine soon.) :)

Richard Heckler 11 years ago

"No. I've used them before and they worked fine. I was in and out in five minutes. It was great."

  • Kyle Kraft, Kansas University senior, Overland Park

How do you know it worked fine? Paper trail? Can't computers be progammed to allow a vote to be cast for Elvis Presley,the print out stating Elvis got the vote yet Roy Orbison actually got the vote? Is this not possible?

Linda Aikins 11 years ago

It's a toss-up - machines vs. humans counting.

Kinda scary there, i_p.

Happy Monday!

ohjayhawk 11 years ago

I agree that every system has it's own set of potential problems. At least, I won't have to worry about my vote being hacked tomorrow... we are still using the optical scan sheets. I feel like I'm back in school having to make sure the oval is completely filled in using my #2 pencil.

trinity 11 years ago

i'd rather stick to paper ballots (not my physical body, hah) i mean i'd prefer voting on paper, filling in ovals, punchin' chads, etc-no offense to all named chad.

roy orbison for president??? now THAT'S a grand idea for a monday morning!

happy monday to everyone, 'specially gootsie for being perenially chipper&cheerful on here! :)

gccs14r 11 years ago

To err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer.

Both paper and paperless elections can be compromised, but the former requires hundreds of people to be involved and the latter only one.

Sigmund 11 years ago

Finally something Merrill and I can agree with. The new Douglas County machines do have a paper trail and can be counted by hand. Even at that ballot box stuffing is possible. I like the the idea of indelible ink marking the right index finger (or other digit) and picture ID's (either Kansas Driver's License or Identity Card) required to be shown before being allowed to vote.

beatrice 11 years ago

Voting machines have been proven capable of being hacked, so yes, there absolutely should be cause for concern. This isn't just about conspiracy theories, but rather the realization that computers are not perfect. We need to be able to substantiate the votes with paper ballots.

Although I'm sure the retirees who volunteer at the poling places are on top of the lastest technology and can detect and delete any problem as it arises. Sure they can.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years ago

In some ways this is a silly question. People are comparing "electronic" to "mechanical". Computer chips are basically machines, therefore electronic devices really are just another sort of mechanical device.

Trinity: Regarding punching Chads: Guys named Chad were born to be punched.

trinity 11 years ago

lmaoooo, oldenuf! :) can't wait to see what the fallout from THAT lil' nugget will be! ;)

classclown 11 years ago

I guess we'll have to see who gets elected before we see if they work fine or not. At least according to public opinion.

gccs14r 11 years ago

Voting is supposed to be anonymous. Walking around with an inked finger if you're part of a group who's not "allowed" to vote can be dangerous.

average 11 years ago

Well, the whole 'no paper trail' system sure goes against the state mandated system of recounts, don't it?

Say precinct 35 was 90% for Ahner, unlike any other nearby district, history, or exit poll? Ask for a recount?

Hit the button.

"Still says 90%".

Hit the button.

"Still says 90%".

What is so bad about machine and human scannable sheets (like we have in DG)? They work!

sunflower_sue 11 years ago

I vote for Roy over Elvis anyday! (Electronic or otherwise.)

You know, next thing these computers are going to be infiltrating our homes and then we will all be listening to that rock-n-roll music.

Right_thinker, it'll be fun to cancel all your votes tomorrow:P bangs drum wildly

akuna 11 years ago

There are plenty of ways to mitigate the concerns with electronic voting that aren't there with paper voting. In the last two presidential elections, there has been entirely too much corruption with traditional voting mechanisms for me to place faith in paper voting. Even those shortcomings can be mitigated with electronic voting. Here's how:

An electronic and paper trail - every voter gets a receipt of their vote with a unique id that can be used to verify their vote via the internet.

A paper trail would be recorded within each voting machine. Each voting machine could also report on its results independently of the other machines.

Voting districts can be audited for the number of votes recorded to make sure no vote tampering has occurred.

Anonymous voting cards cards can be assigned - these would function much like debit cards. They would be one-time use to assure that only alive, registered voters could vote. They would come with a unique pin number that had to be entered at vote time.

Apparently power loss is a concern for tampering with votes. This too can be overcome by placing a battery backup within each machine that can sustain the machine for a few hours or perhaps an entire day.

Even with paper ballets, electronic counting is the main counting mechanism anyway. Who says that there is no corruption in the results that the counting machines report? These machines are just as susceptible to bugs, tampering, and dishonesty as any other machine.

We trust the most important aspect of our capitalistic world to be run by machines - our bank accounts. And the machines do so accurately. There is a vested interest to make sure they run without fail. As members of our society we need to force our leadership to solve these basic problems and to stop disenfranchising voters. Machines can be trusted people can't.

blackwalnut 11 years ago

Electronic voting machines without a paper trail have completely compromised our democracy.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

A telecommunications attorney trusts technology. That must mean something.

It's nice to see Michigan represented again. We played Haslett in the high school football playoffs last year.

As to the question: there is always cause for some concern, no matter the process or tools.

tribalzendancer 11 years ago

Hmm.. nevermind my comments about the selection of responses from downtown. It was a fairly even split.

ranger73 11 years ago

It's funny there are people concerned about this- maybe the concern should be about the lack of voter turnout. It doesn't matter if it works or not if no one votes.

concernedparent 11 years ago

anyone know when the horse parade is downtown? Sorry, completely off the subject, but I figured You all would know....

Ken Miller 11 years ago

No, I think there is MORE concern about polling places in Lawrence actually being OPEN at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. During the primary, the polls at Immanuel Church (Bob Billings Pkwy and Iowa) didn't open until about 7:20 a.m. You can bet I'll have the phone number of that Federal election watchdog with me tomorrow!

ohjayhawk 11 years ago

Tomorrow is the first election here in Ohio where we will have to show ID to vote, but it doesn't have to be a photo ID. It can be something as simple as a bank statement or a utility bill. It doesn't matter as long as it has your name and address on it. I guess what concerns me is, if someone is bent on commiting an act such as voter fraud, what's to keep them from raiding mailboxes and pilfering someone's electric bill? They could potentially pick one out of each precinct polling area and not run the risk of even being recognized as having voted already. I understand that not everyone has a photo ID, but the use of non-photo ID's scare me a bit.

Confrontation 11 years ago

I don't think there will be many problems, IF the volunteers have a clue about computers. The volunteers at my polling place get confused easily when just handing out the "I Voted" stickers. I can't wait to see them get confused over something computer-based.

beatrice 11 years ago

RI, I have nothing against seniors -- I'm too near being one myself (hence moving to AZ?). Besides, now that Phoenix is the 5th largest city in the U.S., it isn't just old people who live here. I believe Florida now has more per capita than Arizona.

rt: while you are generally just wrong on most things, to think that electronic voting machines don't warrant concern for all Americans and true democracy is down right foolish. Yes, the Reps are now in control, so why would they ask questions. But what happens when some 16 year old hacker sees to it that Gwen Stephanie gets elected President? Should questions be asked then?

I don't believe such a thing happened to get Bush elected, but we as citizens should be concerned enough about our electorial system to ask questions when changes are set into place, and not be labeled as "loons" for doing so. Because, as you know, people don't ask questions under a facist regime either.

By the way, did everyone catch the downfall of yet another conservative evangelical over the weekend? Sex scandals are getting to be routine for gay-bashing conservatives. Underage pages last month, and now meth with male prostitutes -- the neo-cons are making the liberals look like rank amateurs when it comes to the kinky stuff. Pretty soon, the neo-cons will be longing for the days when sex scandals just mean an adulterous, hetero affair between consenting adults.

acg 11 years ago

I don't trust technology. I don't trust people either, so whaddya gonna do, eh?

Bea, that "you're generally wrong on most things" comment made my morning. I have a hard time thinking people as badly informed as RT actually exist on the planet but they do. My sad sack sister is a freakin' conservative republican. We're thinking of stoning her to death, you know, like her bible suggests?!

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years ago

RI is so right. The pharmacy uses computers. So does the Dept of Defense and the air traffic control system. The list of ways that we unquestioningly trust computers WITH OUR LIVES is too long to repeat here. At the end of the day, guys like Bush and Shwartzenegger will still get elected, and we have ourslelves (not the voting machines) to blame for that.

To the "I don't trust computers crowd": Yes you do, every day, whether you like it or not. You've already had a "life and death" situation in which a computer allowed you to live by simply doing what it was programmed to do.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Oh, and I also vote for No Gloating Day. If I may be blunt for a moment, when the winners gloat, the winners are bigger losers than the losers.

Also, I think the new rule should be no political advertising until two days before the election. Those two days would be horrible, but at least it would be only two days!

gcc: you might want to look into buying a used car from the 60s. I'm pretty sure they didn't have computers in those cars.

gccs14r 11 years ago


Remember all the sordid tales of scandalous sex among the Tories during the 80s? Being a gospel-shouting Conservative seems to be a cover for being a closeted sexual deviant.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Gwen Stefani as president? That's bananas! B-a-n-a-n-a-s.

Sometimes I have to take the obvious ones.

Janet Lowther 11 years ago

You know, when some journalists got hold of some old mechanical voting machines from Chicago, they found they registered a straight Democratic ticket for every fifth voter regardless of what levers they turned.

Just personally, I would not trust an electronic voting machine which did not print out a paper ballot for the voter to confirm before casting their vote. . . In some of the paperless voting systems the results are whatever the County Clerk says they are, and (at least if the CC is computer savvy) there is no gainsaying him or her. . .

gccs14r 11 years ago


Computers function according to their programming. Computers are programmed by humans. Humans are not trustworthy, so computers are not to be trusted.

blessed3x 11 years ago

I'm far more concerned about the fraud that is already taking place than the fraud that "could" or "might" happen.

blessed3x 11 years ago

No wonder the left is against voter ID cards.

Kontum1972 11 years ago

Electronic Voting and out in five minutes....kind of like Johnnie-on the-Spot...?

Katara 11 years ago

It smells a bit different than the usual stench. But it stinks nonetheless. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I had a cantelope that was left in my trunk during summertime that smelled a lot like that.

It fell our of the bag when the SO brought the groceries in & rolled to the back of the trunk. Not pleasant.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Py, I appreciate your distinction between more pedestrian devices and voting machines; you make a good point. But still, when I see people voicing distrust of electronic voting machines because they are susceptible to tampering, it sounds to me a little bit like an 80-year-old fondly recalling the "good old days." The good old days had as many problems as the bad new days; the old voting methods were just as susceptible to tempering as the new machines are. It's fine to be concerned about election fraud, but unless a person was just as concerned about paper ballots, the burst of concern over the new machines isn't really useful.

beatrice 11 years ago

sgt: "Gwen Stefani as president? That's bananas! B-a-n-a-n-a-s." Why? Was she born in Canada or something?

To make it clear, I'm not advocating such a thing (apparently I don't even know how to spell her name), I was saying that if a hacker is going to go crazy on us, then Gwen might get the teen-boy hacker nod over, say, John McCain or Hilary Clinton.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

By the way, R_I's comparison did hit the strike zone in one spot: money. If you use banks and credit cards, then you trust computers with something valuable. And financial institusion computers do hold information that 1)is vitally important and 2)provides great motivation for those who may wish to tamper with those computers.

gcc, one question: is there one big national voting database? That's an important component of your distrust.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Katara, I once stupidly left a few pumpkins (and other pumpkin-like objects) in my trunk ... for a couple months. (That should tell you how often I delve into my trunk.) The odd thing was that it wasn't really a revolting smell; it was just weird. I didn't really enjoy it, but I could deal with it. I'm pretty sure the smell was never totally gone. A while later, I took my car in for repairs, and when I got it back the smell was mostly gone, but I think it persisted just a little bit.

Fortunately, the smell is now gone -- I totaled that car in January. I have kept pumpkins out of my new car's trunk.

gccs14r 11 years ago


I've been tempted, but the good ones for which spares are still available cost a small fortune. I'm particularly not fond of the telemetry computer hooked to the airbag system.

The bad old days of tampering required physical tampering of a mechanical device &/or the buying off of dozens to hundreds of precinct workers and by its nature was limited in scope. The newfangled tampering requires only one corrupt programmer with access to the database and can be national in scope. Forgive me for preferring the method that has the least impact for the most effort.

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Bea, I was playing off one of Stefani's songs ("Hollaback Girl"). In it, if nothing else, she proves that she can indeed spell "bananas." Multiple times.

Also, I would dispute your choice of teen-hacker icons, but sadly, I seem to be unable to think of a better option. I think I am out of touch with teen hackers.

ranger73 11 years ago

maybe everyone should go outside at noon and raise their hands-12:01 for Kline, 12:02 for Morrison-

no then there would be fights about who goes first...

beatrice 11 years ago

sgt, what can I say. Great joke on your part, but I'm obviously clueless about teen-pop music. Thanks for explaining that, and making me feel closer still to my not-so-distant senior citizenship.

Linda Aikins 11 years ago

No right thinker. It had absolutely nothing to do with you or your politics.

What IS that smell?

badger 11 years ago

I would feel a lot more comfortable if there were verifiable paper trails, just 'the machine prints off a ticker of exactly how you voted, you can look it over, and that ticker is dropped in a ballot box just like the ballots used to be.' Then, if there's a question about vote-tampering or a recount request, they have those slips of paper, a physical record, to look at. I'd feel better that way.

And to the 'pharmacy' comparison? My medical records may be stored electronically and looked up by computer, but when I get a prescription filled, the pharmacy prints me out a little piece of paper on which is written the name of the drug I'm getting, its side effects, my own drug allergies, and any drug interaction information I might need, like "Don't take this with antihistamines." I sure wouldn't mind if my vote was as secure as my pharmacist's records.

And, on the 'microwave' thing, if I thought that someone had a vested interest in tampering with my microwave, my watch, or the chips in my household appliances, then yeah I'd check them out before using. Heck, once a week I tag the NIST site to be sure I'm in line with the atomic clock, just in case I've gotten out of sync.

Ceallach 11 years ago

4 out of 5 voices in my head say the machines are as safe as any other method . . . but I'm not sure how reliable they are :-\

Ceallach 11 years ago

Damn Bea!! Don't let my boss know about we folks past 40 and the computer thinga ma jiggy, I could lose my job :-P

sgtwolverine 11 years ago

Bea -- I think I got used to being around the four or five friends of mine who know the song. I forgot that most people had enough sense to ignore Stefani. (I liked some of No Doubt's music, but Stefani ... eh.)

Py -- a #2 pencil? Up here in my part of Michigan, we get black markers. And instructions to fill the circle -- not just dot the middle -- but not to go outside the lines. It's really quite exciting.

I expect to see the same ballots tomorrow, too.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years ago


Machines, like computers, do what they are designed (programmed) to do, so the logic works both ways. A badly programmed computer is no different than a badly designed machine (you ever hear of a "hanging chad"?).

ohjayhawk 11 years ago

badger - be careful what you wish for. I saw a preview of an investigative report that they will be running tonight on a Columbus (OH) news program. It seems they went dumpster diving at several pharmacies and came up with names, addresses, phone numbers, prescription info connected with those names... Our prescription info might not be as secure as we think.

tribalzendancer 11 years ago

Electronic voting is definintely not reliable. There has been government testimony in closed door committees that electronic voting machines can be hacked, that its in the code and no one would ever know unless they had access to the code, which is precisely what the manufacturing companies will not disclose.

Further more, there's been testimony that both the Florida and Ohio voing machines were hacked, and that the program will give the hack-ee a 51/49 majority in their favor.

Do some research yourselves. The fact that so many people thought electronic voting is okay in the selection of people downtown either says the interviewer was biased in his selection of responses, or the more likely problem: the public is vastly under-educated when it comes to this issue.

Paper voting should be the only method of voing. What is the point of electronic voting if there is no paper trail to verify results? And if it does print off a voting receipt, then whats the worth in buying a $5000 machine that reprints what you could have just marked the first time on a piece of paper?

There is too much corruption in our political system to do otherwise, and this doesnt even consider all the "old fashioned" ways to hack an election, such as creating false felony lists to disenfranchise minority voters (who traditionally vote demograt)

1derer 11 years ago

Ceallach, "but I'm not sure how reliable they are" they, did you mean the machines or the voices in your head?

Just 1dering.

beatrice 11 years ago

RI: not ancient, but some days it feels like I can see ancient just down the road. Other days, I still feel like that teen who did the pogo to the Pistols (which seems like a reeeaallly long time ago seeing it written out like that). Lets just say I'm closer to being asked if I know about the senior discount than I am to having been carded to enter a bar.

oldfashiongirl 11 years ago

I first voted in 1948 and don't remember all the talk about voting abuses-we didn't have voting machines. The only thing about a paper backup is if some fool Republican has charge of the voting machines and forgets to load it with paper--"Well I'll be, I forgot to put the paper in." DUH! There goes your backup recount.

Remember 2000 in Florida. Many of the precints that were predominantly Democrat had ballots that were of harder paper and the pencil used to punch in the holes would not penitrate that paper. Also many of the voters thought they were voting for one person found that the names were misaligned, so that their vote showed up on the next person on the list.

As I said a few days ago I'm sure the Republicans are scheming, conniving and trying to take the election away from the voters if the Dems should win.

Was it Bea who said we volunteer seniors would have a hard time trying to figure out how to fix a problem with the machines? By the way, here in Kentucky they are short on poll place workers, even when they are paid $75.00 for a 13 hour shift. You have to take a 5 hour training session before you are eligible.

In about 14 hours I will be the first in line at my voting station as I usually am first. OK, you guys, let's get out the vote and DO YOUR DUTY. VOTE!!

sunflower_sue 11 years ago

RI, totally forgot the $5 but maybe I can have Py pay it since she's now on my "paid for by the SS for vice pres committee?" :)

I'm trusting machines less and less. When I woke up to no hot water this morning and then discovered that I have a huge unexplained puddle of water in the freezer room and then my clothes dryer shot craps...what are the odds of all that happening on the same day? Could this have anything to do with some great magnetic field that is threatening to overtake my local polling station tomorrow? If I was marooned and actually had a compass, would it even work? Did I seriously think that listening to AM580 today would clear anything up for me? Are Ceallach's voices invading my head, too?

beatrice 11 years ago

oldfashiongirl, I didn't say that the senior volunteers couldn't fix problems with machines, just pointing out that folks past forty likely aren't as good with computers as are the teens who have grown up with them and are likely to be the ones to hack into computer systems. I really didn't intend to insult seniors or volunteers. Sorry if you took it that way.

RI: There is a restaurant in my neighborhood that offers senior discounts for people 50 and older. It is like checking a box categorizing yourself as 39 or Above. Jerks.

beatrice 11 years ago

Damn, Ceal! You and oldfashioned got me -- I guess it is just me who isn't quite up to snuff on the whole computer programming thing. : )

Sparko 11 years ago

The vote-switching in Texas, the voter suppression in Missouri and Virginia, and the easily hackable Diebold and ESS machines should give everyone pause.

Ceallach 11 years ago

Politics are really getting crazy! Back in the day, people could agree to disagree about candidates, do their voting thing and still be friendly. More and more people are becoming meaner and meaner if you don't agree with them . . . what's with that? In this era of tolerance worship we seem to be less and less tolerant all the time.

I am no doubt more than a little paranoid :) but I think some posters are only here to promote their party's line and will soon be gone. I will be soooooo happy when the election is over.

Bone777 11 years ago

I think a count of hands would be more accurate.

Richard Heckler 11 years ago

sunflower_sue (anonymous) on November 6, 2006 at 8:11 a.m. (Suggest removal) I vote for Roy over Elvis anyday! (Electronic or otherwise.)

Bring on Roy with the Traveling Wilburys

Sparko 11 years ago

I hope in Kansas, of all places, the sanctity of free and fair elections will always be first and foremost on the minds of voters. Lawrence was burned twice to thwart the will of the people. I hope today there is a repudiation of voter suppression, unaccountable and faulty voting machines, and Missourians finally showing some common sense. . .

beatrice 11 years ago

Bone, you've just disenfranchised all people without hands. Now, don't you feel ashamed of yourself?

turdfurgeson 11 years ago

look how rigged casinos are with electronic machines. it shows how easily technology can be tampered with.

Electronic voting machines are the death of our Democracy.

mr_daniels 11 years ago

Notice that both parties have hired an army of attorneys in the event of voting irregularities which are bound to happen. I agree with turdfurgeson...electronic voting machines are the death of our Democracy.

Bone777 11 years ago

Whoops, Bea. Hadn't thought of that. Maybe electronic voting would be a better way.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.