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More Display Noise — Why Now?
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More Display Noise

Update: Mea culpa. I forgot the link to Lisa English at Ruminate This who brought up the investigation into Smartmatic’s Venezuelan ties.

As Anya mentioned in comments, we are having early voting in Florida and things are not running smoothly according to the Miami Herald: Glitches cited in early voting.

This is the calibration problem I was talking about. These machines have a grid of sensors around the screen to determine where you are pressing and they can become misaligned over time. They should be calibrated at a minimum, every day, and the more they are used, the more often they are going to need calibration.

Just being moved can cause them to “lose their place.” It’s a great concept that isn’t ready for the real world.

CNN’s Political Ticker reports on the Venezuela connection:

Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. said it asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, to investigate it and its parent software company, the Smartmatic Corp. The request comes after news articles suggested improper ties.

“Sequoia and Smartmatic are not connected, owned or controlled by the Venezuelan government whatsoever,” Jeff Bialos, a Washington attorney representing the two companies, said in a telephone interview.

That is technically a true statement, but is for all practical purposes bogus. In most of Central and South America there exists a class system. The upper-class families take care of their own and are deeply involved in politics. Smartmatic couldn’t have gotten its government contracts without being tied in to this network of powerful families. While Chavez is not part of this network, the Venezuelan civil service knows who has the consistent power in the world. Smartmatic is no better or worse than Halliburton.


1 Steve Bates { 10.31.06 at 2:17 pm }

When I voted early last week, I noted with amusement (or worse) that every eSlate machine had an improvised sign above it: “The eSlate is NOT a touchscreen device.” An eSlate terminal has a plastic “dial” or finger-wheel for making selections, which I suppose is no bad thing, or would be if I trusted any electronic voting system to follow through after the voter walks away.

Touchscreen devices have known characteristics; there’s no reason the problem in Florida couldn’t have been anticipated. But either it wasn’t anticipated, or it was anticipated but deliberately ignored. Machines are untrustworthy; people, even more so.

Forgive my cynicism. Wherever my liberal nature comes from, it isn’t my faith in humankind.

2 Bryan { 10.31.06 at 2:34 pm }

Not using a touchscreen makes eSlate more reliable and less error prone than the Diebold equipment. The local ATMs I use have buttons along the side of the screen and a numeric keypad for entering amounts. It’s only in stores that you encounter the touchscreens, and as Anya noted on the earlier thread the fail with regularity.