Professor Fox & Dill
Election Day Photo Essay
The voting set-up was observed at Florence Moore Hall Conference Room – Nov. 1st, 2004 around noon. Barbara Simons was the poll worker who allowed us to watch the process of the poll set-up, opening, and closing. There were 4 poll workers in total, 3 women and 1 man. They were volunteers who had all worked in previous elections and they were being paid $95 to $100.
The machines were kept in a storage room adjacent to the conference room. There was an unsecured window in the storage room as well as all kinds of other supplies that the dorm had stored there.
The machines brought in last Monday. The machines were left in the open conference room where all residents have access and passage. Someone in charge of the hall saw that they were lying there and had them moved to his/her office and then later into this storage room.
The machines were Sequoia Systems AVC Edge machines from the Santa Clara County Election Office. Shown below was the set-up procedure by the poll workers:
The vote count will not be lost if the power is cut and the batteries are depleted or if the machine is restarted.
One volunteer commented that some people don’t finish voting and leave without taking the smart card out so that it says, “voter fled” on the LCD. This raises the obvious question: In this scenario, is the part of the vote that has been cast to this point successfully tallied, or is the whole ballot discarded?
At 6 AM, we planned to meet in the Florence Moore Conference Room. The room was easily accessible to dorm residents and it was in fact a dorm resident who let us in. The 5 DREs were plugged in with the power on and the covers closed. The students duct taped cords to floor to avoid tripping mishaps. There were 4 clerks and one head inspector running poll station. The clerks put up signs to direct people to the right place, other signs (voter bill of rights, language preference survey, welome note, poll watchers do and don’ts) and an American flag (we don’t know why it was upside down).
After everything was in place, the covers of the DREs were removed and set aside. The flaps were opened and the machines were adjusted to the correct viewing height/angle.
All the appropriate seals were still in place. They proceeded to remove the tamper-proof seals from the “Polls Open/Close” switched and placed the seals in a special plastic bag. However, they forgot to make note of what machine each seal came off of. When the inspector called the headquarters to ask what to do since they forgot to record what seal number went with what machine, automated response was that headquarters was not open until 8 AM.
After setting the “Polls Open/Close” switch to open position, the switch was resealed with the same seal, although now the seal read VOID.
2 clerks went on to verify the zero starting tally. The first voter also verified the zero starting tally on every machine. The other clerks checked the paper ballot box and everyone in the room was to verify that the box was empty. (California required that paper ballots be available for voters who requested them. Also, paper absentee ballots can be delivered to the polls in California.) The paper ballot (optical scan) voting station was a cardboard box setup with signs (voter practice pad, voter instructions, magnifying sheet).
The clerks and inspector signed the payroll and oath to finish off the opening day procedure. They plugged in the card activator and at 6:55 AM first voter walked in. The clerks, however, were not prepared yet. At 7 AM, the inspector announced that the poll was officially open and the first voter checked all the machines for zeros.
The polls were to close at 8:00 PM. At 7:45 PM, the poll here at Florence Moore Hall was nearly empty (though this was not true for other parts of California).
The poll workers gave us a run-down of what each voter had to go through to vote:
Option of paper ballot or electronic offered to all patrons.
Signature and street address of where you live verified on roster.
Receive activated card.
Insert card in the front of the machine and begin voting.
They said they had been very busy during the day, especially between 11 AM to 1 PM. The poll workers began the closing procedure by checking the displays on the machines. We looked at a display on the back of one machine:
Empty – ‘voter inactive’ 450 (Lifetime vote count) (Left)
Busy – ‘voter active’ 76 (Election vote count) (Right)
The serial numbers were then checked. The seal was removed from the “Open/Closed” switch and the number was recorded. The display was showing “Official Results Report”.
These machines had no internal printers, so the Official Results Report was not actually printed. It was explained during the pre-election testing visit that the usual internal printers were not installed in most machines (and removed from others) as part of the contract to provide voter verifiable printer upgrades at no additional cost. Unfortunately, this bypasses an important safeguard of the voting process, since the procedure in many parts of the country is to preserve the signed printouts from the machines for comparison with the totals reported by the election management system at the elections office, to catch many problems such as lost or altered cartridges or data corruption at the elections office.
The end process of the closing procedure is outlined in the steps below:
Official pressed ‘print’ on the touch screen then fidgeted with the controls
LCD at the back of the machine read: ‘Official Election Polls closed’
According to Barbara Simons no machines crashed.
When pull open/close button put into close position à screen shows processing of report in progress
Power off à Seal removed (Changes color (void?) à results cartridge removed à placed in result cartridge red-lined bag à serial number recorded.
All records/papers sealed in bags.
Top flap of machine closed.
Power cords collected.
Machine closed by putting on cover and detaching and packing legs.
Seals on ballot boxes (2 boxes). Lots of paper ballots cast à an extra box was delivered but no seal (this is a problem, since the seal is to help detect tampering with paper ballots after the election is closed).
Seal Broken à box opened à votes in envelopes accessed and sorting started into categories:
· provisional ballot
· official absent voter ballot
· official ballot
· official absent voter ballot – out of state
Special Thanks to Barbara Simons and all the poll workers at the polling station for kindly allowing us to observe the process that goes on during election day.