This Voting Machine Won't Let You Vote For Obama

If this is what it looks like, it's terrifying: an electronic voting machine that won't let you vote for who you want to vote for.

The video, uploaded today which surfaced on Reddit, is allegedly from a voting station in Pennsylvania -- a major state in the election. The man who recorded the faulty machine, which is either deliberately not allowing a touch vote for Obama, malfunctioning, or maybe just has a bad touchscreen, said the following:

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top centre and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said "It's nothing to worry about, everything will be OK." and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

Again, there's no proof that this is deliberate vote manipulation -- or even that it's real. Maybe the video is edited. But maybe it's not. And if there's a day we should err on the side of scrutiny, it's the day when we pick the President of the United States with fallible machines. The original poster says he's "not a video guy, but if it's possible to prove whether a video has been altered or not, I will GLADLY provide the raw footage to anyone who is willing to do so. The jumping frames are a result of the shitty camera app on my Android phone, nothing more."

This shouldn't be happening anywhere, not even once.

[via Reddit]

Update: Our bros at Gawker talked to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior Staff Technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, who says the problem is "obviously" a miscalibrated touchscreen.



    I still can't understand how the US can get e-voting so insanely, badly wrong!!!
    I've worked in an electoral booth here and while it's a pain doing the count at the end of a long day, at least we can be sure the vote is correct within fractions of a percent!

      e-voting doesn't remove any human error, it just replaces the human error of the counter, with the human error of the software developer, the hardware manufacturer, the network connection, and the booth assistants.

      Replacing one point of possible error with multiple seems pretty stupid.

        The likelihood of error should be reduced drastically though as the code can be checked multiple times prior to release. Manual counting may have the option to recount, but the time constraint means it is only done in exceptional cases.

    Reminds me of that Simpsons episode

    Something dodgy is going on here.

    Their voting machines really need a keyboard or mouse of some kind in case of touch screen failure.

      Looks like it might be a touch screen calibration issue....which is just bizarre with the accuracy most smart phone touch screens have nowadays.

    Surely, for something as important as this, you could have physical buttons? Hell, just re-purpose an ATM and use the screen buttons. Then, print a receipt that you hand to an official that counts as a backup paper vote. Best of both worlds - redundancy, paper trail and instant result tallying.

    So it did let him vote for Obama, therefore the title of this post is 100% false.

    There shouldn't be network connection from the booths. They should be standalone until the end of the day when someone comes round and takes the memory card/HDD out to be taken to a centralized location. This removes the possibility of data being intercepted/modified in transit. Just have election officers with FBI agents minding the HDD from the booth to the central office to ensure there is no tampering just like they do with paper ballots.

    Try switching it off and switching it back on again.

    Interestingly I wasn't able to vote for Obama at the recent Australian council elections either.

    There is definitely something shoddy going on here.

    "Obviously" a miscalibrated touchscreen. Um, no... All the other buttons work fine. A faulty touchscreen, MAYBE. But a miscalibrated touchscreen will be offset over the entire screen, not just localized to Obama.

    It looks like a miscalibrated screen to me too.. if the guy touched further down the screen in the same position, Obama would likely be selected..

      Read the article before posting.

    Jeez, is this becoming Gizmodo US but in Australia?

      The election coverage is important everywhere. It's only the leader of the free world being elected.

        No, he is the leader of the United States of America. I am a citizen of Australia, which is unquestionably part of the "free world", and he is in no way, shape or form my leader. Americans may like to think that they are somehow in charge of the rest of us, and sometimes they act like it (particularly with their military adventures), but that is all the more reason for the rest of us to challenge the arrogance of this attitude.

        Also, with VERY rare exceptions (I'm thinking mostly of "he tried to kill my daddy" Bush), both Democratic and Republican parties have near identical foreign policies. This has been the case for literally decades, and was certainly the case this time around. So really it doesn't matter much who wins unless you happen to live in the United States.

        Not to say the article is entirely irrelevant to Australians. The ACT has electronic voting, and the rest of us will no doubt get it in some form eventually, so we need to be aware of problems with it whether they occur in the U.S., Brazil, Estonia or elsewhere. But none the less I really do find the fawning attitude apparent in your "leader of the free world" quip quite offensive.

          If you think the US doesn't effect Australia, you're living in a dream world, buddy.

    On the other hand, here's one that goes the other way

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now