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Voter smashes Diebold machine as e-voting problems crop up nationwide

Evan Blass
11.07.06
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With this being the first major election to see a significant portion of the population casting their ballots on electronic voting machines, you might expect some problems to arise with the notoriously buggy and untested technology -- and you'd be right. The New York Times is reporting that polling places across the country are experiencing difficulties with their voting equipment, and while we'd love to place the blame squarely on shady manufacturers like Diebold, Sequoia, and friends, it seems that the complications are actually due to human error as much as faulty hardware. According to The Times, Indiana appears to be the state having the most trouble today, with 75 precincts using incorrectly programmed smart cards and nearly half of Marion County's 914 precincts having trouble getting their machines to boot up in the first place. In New Jersey, meanwhile, Republican officials are claiming that Democratic Senator Robert Menendez's name was already lit up when some voters entered the booth, causing them to accidentally choose the wrong candidate. Other areas such as Cleveland, Ohio and Hartford, Connecticut were either unable to start their machines or found the touchscreens to be improperly displaying candidates' names, forcing election workers to move back to old-fashioned paper ballots.

The highlight of the day, though, has nothing to do with shoddy equipment and everything to do with a crazy voter who attacked a Diebold-brand machine in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Forty-three-year-old Robert Young, a registered independent, apparently believed that the e-voting machines had been deployed in a wild conspiracy by Republicans, and decided to make a statement by smashing the $5,000 device with a metal cat paperweight. A remorseful Young was quickly arrested by local police, and although the votes on the destroyed machine can still be saved, the feline paperweight did not fare nearly as well: officials have said that it will likely be impounded before being forcibly euthanized.

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