Voting machines left unattended in Washoe County

On a day when the tension is palpable as voters hit the polls and wait for the color-blocked map to fill in from east to west, Nevada has another reason to be nervous. A blog posting yesterday from a Lake Tahoe, Nevada resident and middle school teacher displayed cell-phone photos of stacked voting machines left unattended in a school hallway. The blog went on to describe the scene – three stacks of Sequoia voting machines in a high traffic area near doors that open to the outside until the building is closed down at 7 p.m. When the teacher mentioned her concerns about the security of the machines to a poll worker, the answer was disturbing. “If something happens, something happens. I won’t be here at midnight.”


From the Archives
Electile Dysfunction (9/25/08)
Building a better paper trail (12/18/03)
Vote like a rebel (5/13/04)
Beyond the Weekly
Waiting to be hacked (Lake Tahoe, Nev. blog)
No need to make a case of a simple error (Las Vegas Sun 9/11/08)
Election lawsuit could frustrate Wisconsin voters at the polls on Nov. 4 (Star Tribune, 9/12/08)
Student voting raises concerns (The Roanoke Times)
E-vote (The New Yorker 1/22/07)

As the Weekly reported on September 25, the Sequoia Voting Systems Edge Two machines, 4,500 of which are being used in Clark County, have generated their fair share of controversy already.

“According to a list of voting-machine failures compiled by Common Cause, in November 2006, Sequoia machines were the subject of vote-switching allegations in Palm Beach, Florida, computer malfunctions in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, and programming snafus that delayed results in Nye County, Nevada.”

A quick search of YouTube provides video demonstrations of how to hack the machines, but Clark County registrar of voters Larry Lomax assured the Weekly that they’re safe. “If you give me time, money, some computer whiz kids and access to a machine, I’m sure I can find a way to manipulate the system, too,” he said. “There’s never been a proven case of fraud tied to the machines.”

Still, it’s reports like the one from Lake Tahoe that raise fears that this election could be a repeat of the 2000 debacle. The Washoe County teacher-blogger convinced the poll worker in charge of the machines to stay until the building had been locked down, providing the needed security for the stacks of machines. We can only hope that across the country today others are taking the same precautions.

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