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The new Diebold 2-minute deadline: Welcome to SPEED VOTING

By       Message Bev Harris       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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USA - Diebold/Premier says too late to fix a new voting machine 2-minute warning and "time-out" feature which can kick voters off the machine, forcing them to accept a provisional ballot. "At least 15" voters were booted off the machine in Johnson County, Kansas recently, and Diebold/Premier says this is due to a software "upgrade" which sets a timer on voter inactivity. According to the company, the machines receiving the upgrade are used in 34 states and 1,700 jurisdictions.*

*This seems inflated, though. Unless the optical scan machines are also outfitted with a 2-minute warning, which doesn't make sense, it would seem that this should only apply to the DRE states and locations.


A study on DRE allocation from Ohio indicates that it takes an average of four to nine minutes per voter to cast an average-length ballot, and ballots in many locations will be longer than average this fall. Each additional ballot question can add 30 seconds to the time a voter must monopolize the DRE.

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Diebold's 2-minute timeout kicks in when the voter does not make a selection quickly enough. (Welcome to 21st Century literacy tests: Speed reading.)

According to a Sept. 10 Kansas City Star Article, Johnson County upgraded touchscreen voting machines with a new software release from Diebold subsidiary Premier Election Solutions Inc. Buried in the release notes was a mention of a new "time out" feature that makes the voting machine eject a voter card if there has been no activity for 150 seconds. The machine emits a warning sound at 120 seconds.

You can read the full article here:

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You can add your insights and ask questions here:

The Black Box Voting TOOL KIT 2008
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit2008.pdf )
recommends that citizens, like you, obtain the voting machine allocation plans for your jurisdiction. This is going to become critical for locations that use touch-screens, or DREs. Unlike optical scan voting machines, DREs require voters to monopolize a machine the whole time they are voting.

The Ohio study linked below provides concrete guidelines for how many machines are needed:

(3,023 KB)


They activate more checkout lanes, don't they? Retail outlets have developed methods to study how customer lines are affected by both number of items and volume of customers. The same kinds of analysis techniques were used to study DRE voting machine allocations with number of ballot questions (items in the cart, so to speak) and number of voters. Retail outlets learned the hard way that the wrong calculations on active checkout lanes can produce "exploding lines" and angry customers.

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As the study points out, lines literally do explode when a certain threshold is met.

DRE voting machines take a time certain for each vote cast, and that time increases dramatically with each ballot question added. By all accounts, the November election will bring in record numbers of voters.


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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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