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GAO D-13: Voters with Secret Decoder Rings Get Votes Counted

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As voters, let’s not confuse “we didn’t find a bug” with “exoneration.” For as thorough as the cumulative GAO studies were, there are yet too many technical paths not taken, too many questions not answered. 18,000 votes are still missing in Sarasota. 89,000 missing votes statewide remain ignored.


GAO’s latest review of iVotronic DRE/touch screen voting systems concentrates on three areas of additional testing: firmware verification, ballot testing, and calibration of the touch screens. This article takes a look at calibration and the GAO’s inconclusive assessment. It should be noted that after waiting over a year for a comprehensive evaluation of calibration as a cause to Sarasota’s missing 18,000 votes it appears one will not be forthcoming. Calibration remains a viable cause of the missing 18,000.


When a touch screen is properly “calibrated,” you touch the touch screen on the “touch here” spot and the touch screen computer recognizes your touch and does what it’s told to do. This is true of touch screens at your local bank, the supermarket, the airport, as well as those in your voting booth. Except perhaps those used in Sarasota’s District 13 and several other counties across the state.


After testing TWO iVotronic DRE/touch screen voting systems, GAO concludes “without absolute assurance” that miscalibrated iVotronic DREs did not contribute to Florida’s District 13 high undervote. All things being equal, if all 1,499 iVotronic touch screens were in perfect working order, no bubbles, no smoothing filters, no external influences, no other intermittent hardware/software quirks or flaws . . . Testing only TWO of 1,499 machines . . . . . .  TWO machines? Are you convinced? Furthermore, there is no indication that any of the iVotronic machines registering high undervote counts were tested at all.


The GAO report also illustrates a pair of notable calibration test examples. As shown, testers touch the iVotronic screen approximately 1 inch to 1 ½ inches away from the targeted “vote-here” position and their candidate is selected. (In these examples, touching the touch screen dead-on the “vote-here” position does not work. No candidate is selected.)


The inference here appears to be that if the voters poke at the touch screen enough times, eventually they hit the sweet spot. Ultimately, if voters get lucky and succeed in poking the invisible dot, their votes are counted correctly. So there, the machines work. All you need is a secret decoder ring.


In all fairness, the Sarasota County official observing the calibration tests said that miscalibrated machines would “PROBABLY” have been removed from service or recalibrated. No doubt that would be the case, IF THE POLLWORKERS KNEW THE MACHINES WEREN’T WORKING AND IF THEY DIDN’T BLAME IT ON THE VOTERS, as we do here in the south.

Lani Massey Brown

“A Margin of Error: Ballots of Straw,” featured on

Her stalker wants revenge . . . The governor wants her dead . . . the governor’s spy, he simply want her.


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Author of A MARGIN OF ERROR: BALLOTS OF STRAW, featured in "Small Press Bookwatch" - Politics is a tough career, with more knives in (more...)

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