TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Lever Voting Machines - What's Wrong?

Re: Lever Voting Machines - What's Wrong?

Joe Morris (
Thu, 4 Nov 2004 13:32:19 UTC (Lisa Hancock) writes:

> Is there a reason mechanical machines are so out of favor? Sure, they
> would require maintenance and setup and there is a cost to that, but
> that is only twice a year. If the machines were in production, costs
> would be lower. A modern generation would probably have newer
> mechanical engineering and lighter better wearing gears.

One reason is voting integrity.

I grew up in Louisiana, a state where political corruption is
considered to be an art form. I'll admit that the details are a bit
fuzzy in my memory, but one news story I recall from the 1950s was a
demonstration given to the Legislature of how easy it was for a person
to rig a mechanical voting machine *during the voting*. A voting
machine was set up as if for an election, and (without curtains) a
"voter" went into it, then used a (coat hanger?) to manipulate the
linkages behind the level panel. In a real election he would have
been behind curtains and his actions not visible to the election

Of course, this being Louisiana no reforms came out of the demonstration,
and I suspect that lots of legislators were taking notes -- for their
political operatives' benefit so that they could rig the machines in
their districts.

Joe Morris

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: They caught some guy doing something
similar in Chicago years ago. He was employed by the Chicago Board
of Election Commissioners (thus had a right to be in the warehouse
where the machines are/were kept unsupervised) and he loosened a few
screws and attached some wires in the back of several machines to
rig them that no matter what the person chose to vote, it would get
recorded as a straight Democratic vote. It was found out when one
of the machines had a crank handle which got stuck and would not
turn (after his tampering with it.) Mayor Daley claimed to be (and
acted) furious when he found that out, but you know how that goes.
Police had quite an investigation into it; found several of the
voting machines had been tampered with in that way. PAT]

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