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North Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia, Maine election watch

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The following states go to the polls today: Maine, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia. Statistical information, results analysis tools, problem reports and voting machine issues summarized here.

HEAT ISSUES IN SC, VA - VOTERS: DRINK WATER AND REPORT MACHINE PROBLEMS

One potential problem: Triple-digit heat in South Carolina and Virginia, which can affect voting machines (not all polling places are air conditioned) and voters (the elderly, in particular, are vulnerable to heat stress) and the DRE or "touch-screen" machines used throughout South Carolina and widely in Virginia tend to produce longer lines, long waits.

If weather is hot, bring bottled water and anticipate sweltering waits. Bring enough to share if you see children or elderly voters who are suffering from the heat.

Add this to the use of new "electronic pollbooks", which also can produce more waiting, and the heat could become a problem. Another computer-unfriendly factor is humidity; voting machines in Georgia have failed in the past due to humidity factors, and today's SC and VA elections are likely to combine both heat and humidity.

ANALYSIS TOOLS

Last week, thanks to outstanding work by two volunteers, we published a tool to automate collection of results for analysis. John Howard has now produced a compendium of results links, many including precinct results as they roll in. He has published the compendium for North Dakota and South Carolina, and has been working on Virginia.

John Howard's new results link compendiums:
Morth Dakota:
http://www.bbvdocs.org/ND/state/2008June-ND-results-tracking-compendium.htm

South Carolina:
http://www.bbvdocs.org/SC/state/2008June-SC-results-tracking-compendium.htm

For tips on how to automate collection of data using Web mirroring or "offline browsing", see this link:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/74942.html

MAINE

Maine is much more difficult to track, but we are working on that for November. Maine has a VERY good election system, perhaps the best in the nation, but it is challenging for newcomers because Maine has 503 election municipalities, many of them hand counted at the polling place.

This represents the genius of democracy: Distribution of power. It may look slightly messier on the surface, but tends to be more stable and because it is decentralized, is difficult to corrupt except in urban pockets.

Unlike New Hampshire, which also has an excellent municipality-based voting system, Maine has also enacted tough chain of custody regulations for any recounts.

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Bev Harris is executive director of Black Box Voting, Inc. an advocacy group committed to restoring citizen oversight to elections.
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