There is still hope that Virginia's Fifth District can be rid of Virgil Goode, but the final count has him in the lead. A recount is possible, and if there is any basis for it, I hope that Democratic candidate Tom Perriello will request it. Even if he loses a recount, Perriello would earn our respect as someone who stands up to see that every vote is counted, rather than someone who runs in fear of being called names like "sore loser."
The many complaints of polling place problems recorded yesterday by Election Protection in Virginia do not appear to be concentrated in the Fifth District. But there are serious complaints there, which if verified would throw the election in a very bad light. I've pasted some of the reports below.
It's important to remember, however, that even if every election machine worked perfectly, there is absolutely no way to recount the votes made on them. I voted early and on paper, so my vote can be recounted. Most people voted on DRE machines, which arguably violate the Virginia Constitution's requirement of public vote counting. These machines count votes inside a black box. It cannot be made public. It cannot be verified. We simply have to hope that the machines got it right, which -- of course -- such machines quite often do not. Sometimes, as documented below, their failures are even visible to voters.
While Virginia has cut off funding for these machines, it has not yet banned their use. Paper ballots can be counted with optical scan machines. Those machines are just as unreliable as DREs, but leave a paper trail that can be recounted. Most reliable of all, and least expensive, would be paper ballots placed in a locked transparent box, publicly opened and counted at each polling place with witnesses from all interested parties, and the results publicly posted at each polling place. Registration issues would be solved by instituting universal registration. Regardless of the outcome of this particular election, it should point us toward such necessary reforms. Here are some of the reported (not verified) problems from counties that are in part or in whole within Virginia's Fifth District:
This is from Campbell County:
"Voting machine is jamming. Asking voter to hit "McCain" to clear the machine, instead of using override to clear and to let the voters properly register the vote. Local NAACP has been called about the problem."
"Voter from Charlottesville, VA requested an absentee ballot which only arrived on Election Day."
"Student voters were not able to cast a regular ballot because they registered with student groups that did not turn in the forms on time."
"Unsubstantiated rumor from Clark that machines broke down at Tonsler. As a result paper ballots were being used. Some were not being counted due to boxes not being completely filled in (they were checked instead). However, instruction wasn't being provided to completely fill-in ballots."
"concerned whether the machine properly recorded her vote. the machine jammed when the voter in front of her tried to vote."
"machine stalled on voter before this voter - would not go forward or backward - voter had to vote on machine after they got it going again and is concerned about whether her vote counted because there was no papertrail"
"Tried to vote. The candidate for senator came up, voted, but the candidates for president never came up on the voting screen. Also happened to the person that came before her."