I am somewhat amazed by the number of “under votes” which have been counted in the 2013 VA Attorney General’s race. I always vote on a “paper” ballot because I want a paper trail. I’ve been lucky I’ve never lived anywhere where DRE machines were the only option.
It’s obvious that the DRE or “touch screen” machines don’t offer a paper trail and we can clearly see with DRE’s in a recount, all we get are tapes re-run and their totals accepted as “recounted.” There are few, if any, changes in a recount on this type of voting machine.
Before the November election our Committee sent out an email suggesting Democratic voters use the paper ballot or optical scan voting machines. We all knew the election was going to be close and if there were to be a recount, a paper ballot was the best choice of getting our votes counted.
What I didn’t know then, however, was the propensity for the optical scan machines to kick out or not count the many votes we are now seeing being counted during the AG recount. After some discussion with election officials yesterday who know these machines, it is possible to count the “under votes” on election night or at the very least have them be counted during the Electoral Board canvasses. The optical scan machines simply need to be programmed differently. However, I’m told that would require a change in the law.
It is my understanding that all “write-in” votes are segregated from the other ballots in the optical scan machines. Each of those votes has to be recorded on the precinct level election paperwork and the person who received the vote has his/her name recorded. The optical scan machines could also be programmed to segregate any over or under votes in the same manner. They could then be forwarded to the electoral boards for review for a voter intent determination. By doing so, the “under votes” being counted yesterday and today could have been included in the certified results sent from each locality to the State Board of elections.
In Nelson, we had 70 “under votes” in the AG race. Of those 70, 19 votes were counted during the recount or 27.14 percent. Seventeen of those votes were for Mark Herring, 2 for Mr. Obenshain. Since the optical scan machines were programmed in the recount for the AG race only, I wonder how many more votes should have been counted in the Governor’s race or in the LG’s race. We’ll never know because those races did not require a recount.
We consistently hear from elected officials how they want to protect the vote, maintain the integrity of the electoral process, and that all legitimate votes should be counted. Of course, I shouldn’t forget the discussions of how they must protect us from all that nasty voter fraud, as well. I notice the vast majority of the votes uncounted on election night 2013 were Democratic votes. The real voter fraud being perpetrated on the public is the electoral process is obviously set up to not count some of the votes in every election, unless there is a recount. Then and only then will someone make a determination of voter intent.
I don’t know how many dollars it takes to complete a recount. Isn’t it more fiscally responsible to make the voter intent determination on the front end? Further, shouldn’t the General Assembly create laws which allow all the votes to be counted when the election is held, not ignored because a machine can’t read some of them?
One last thought…had the Recount Court ruled in favor of Creigh Deeds in the 2005 AG race and allowed all of the optical scan ballots to be re-run and the under votes counted statewide, would Bob McDonnell have won that race and then ultimately ended up our governor? I’m thinking maybe not. So much for the integrity of the vote.