This political season, more than any other in recent memory, is irony-filled. So why this incident involving my friend and the wife of UNCOUNTED filmmaker, David Earnhardt, surprises me, I can’t tell you.
My wife, Patricia Earnhardt, had an early voting experience here in Nashville, Tennessee, where she saw her vote momentarily flip from Barack Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. She voted on a touch-screen paperless machine. Here is her story:
“A poll worker directed me to a touch screen voting machine & instructed me how to use it. I touched “Obama” for president & nothing lit up. I touched 2 or 3 more times & still nothing lit up. I called the poll worker back over to tell him I was having a problem. He said I just needed to touch it more lightly. I tried it 2 or 3 more times more lightly with the poll worker watching & still nothing lit up. The poll worker then touched it for me twice — nothing lit up. The third time he touched the Obama button, the Cynthia McKinney space lit up! The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button. The poll worker just kind of laughed and cancelled the vote. He hit the Obama button again & it finally lit up. I continued on to cast the rest of my votes. After completing the process & reviewing my votes, I went to the VOTE page, hit the VOTE button & nothing happened. Again after several tries, I called the poll worker over & he finally got the machine to register my votes. Hurray — I voted! — or did I? I left the polling place feeling uncertain.” Patricia Earnhardt - Friday, Oct. 17 - Howard School Building - Nashville, Tennessee
I also had similar problems with the machine I was voting on that same day, although no vote flipping. I would touch the screen numerous times before I could get my various candidate choices to light up. It was strange and very frustrating. When I finally got through my slate of candidate choices, I could not get the VOTE button to light up when I touched it. I finally called over a poll worker and he told me that I needed to touch lightly. I touched the VOTE button more lightly, but was only able to get it to work after several more failed attempts.
Need more sad irony? The machines David and Patricia voted on in Davidson County, TN - ES&S iVotronic - are the same machines used in the West Virginia counties (Putnam & Jackson) where vote flipping is also being reported. Go to the election info page on the state of Tennessee and click on Davidson County. Or download this PDF.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please, if you experience anything unusual, stay at your polling place, ask to speak with the supervisor, call the election commission (they will have the number), and insist that the machine be quarantined until it can be examined.