I had to drive the kiddo to school this morning, so I decided to whip into the Harrington Library parking lot to get my vote on. I went in, gave my voter card and then went to the Diebold machine to vote for liquor in Richardson and a straight Libertarian Party ticket. This was the first time I ever voted straight ticket, but I know the candidates in my area and thought it a good decision. Everything seemed to go OK and I left happy.
Tonight I received an email from M.B. Blankenship, a not so happy voter. (Actually, Wes Benedict forwarded the message.)
To: [email protected]
I voted early October 23, 2006 at my Precinct 74 that is in Dallas, but tied to Collin County. This was not the first time I voted on a computer so my experience can not be blamed on insecurity of what I was doing.
I am a independent voter who has never voted for a party, but for the individuals who run for office.
The beginning of the ballot was concerning a bond issue for Dallas with many items that filled the screen. I voted all those and moved on to the votes for individual candidates for state office.
I DID NOT VOTE FOR ANY REPUBLICANS. I was very careful about my choices and watched as each X was placed in the correct box.
When the candidates for judicial places came up I had a big problem with the machine. If I had the screen before my eyes I could identify exactly who it was I was choosing. the trauma I experienced has over ridden who I was voting for in my memory. There were three names that offered me the choice of Rep and Lib. Three times in succession I choose Lib, but the machine gave my vote to the Rep !!!!!!!.
This first tine if happened, the thing that popped out of my mouth so the election officials could hear me was, “This machine is not recording my vote as I chose it.” I made the correction on the first error. The second time I chose Lib for the next candidate and the machine gave my vote to the Republican. I continued to speak up. Then when it happened a third time and I was noisy, a woman came over and stood beside me.
She watched I as I finished my choosing. I voted for the State Board of Education Representative and then the the slate offered only Republicans for the rest of the offices. I did not vote for any of them telling the woman when I did not want a candidate with no opposition I did not give them my vote.
As the summary appeared for me to check it, Perry, Dewhurst and Combs all had an X WHICH I AM SURE I DID NOT GIVE TO THEM. As the woman watched, I ran the summary twice to be sure that it was correct as I intended it to be voted before removing the card from the machine.
I was so shaken I came home to call the Collin County Election Bureau to verbally report this experience. I had seen the demonstration by the Princeton Professor on the news who proved that a virus could be inserted into a Diebold machine and votes scrambled to suit an overriding software program. The woman I talk to in McKinney, Texas was not the Director of the Collin County Election Office I later learned, but she suggested I write to the three elected people who represent me at the federal level who voted to use machines in Texas that do not offer a paper trail to be checked if a voter feels his/her votes have been compromised by electronic tinkering.
I followed her advise and sent out three letters to Dallas headquarters for Hutchison, Cornyn, and Johnson October 23..
The next morning, October 24, I called the Secretary of State for Texas office and reported my experience by phone. ( I also called Democratic
headquarters for Collin County but the volunteer had no authority,). Then I followed the phone call to Austin with a summary of my discussion by phone and a copy of the letter to federal representatives addressed to the attention of Ann McGeehan the Director of Elections for the State of Texas. I have also sent a another follow-up summary of my Monday phone conversation to the Director of Collin County Elections Sharon Rowe.
I have called the Democratic headquarter in Collin County again today and would willingly take my complaint to the Republican headquarter here in Collin County. I feel so violated….as if I have have robbed by a thief, This experience cannot be written off in my mind as a glitch in
the mechanics of a machine. I know how I voted. I will always believe that the Diebold machine I was using tried six times to steal my vote…probably did . The voting process is a Constitutional right and yet the Republican leadership has managed to mess that up.They done too
much without voter consent since the fiasco in Florida in 2000.
Now I have alerted you of my experience. I hope I have a voice to make a change in the atmosphere of this nation.
M.B. Blankenship left a phone number, so I gave her a call. I wanted her to know that someone had received her message. I also hoped to recruit her to help hang door hangers. I found a firecracker at the other end of the line.
She is not a libertarian. She is fiercely independent. She is a former educator who talked to me about her worry that her vote would be stolen. She talked briefly about her worry that schoolchildren are no longer taught to think. She was, as we would say in NOLA, a trip.
This old woman (her words, not mine) asked what we would do without the Internet. I could not answer in a positive way, so I only agreed that I am happy to get news outside of the mainstream sources.
So from the Firecracker, to me, and now to you: Record your vote, and check it twice. You may find that Diebold is more naughty than nice.
Update Blankenship sent this link after I posted. I should mention that she asked me to correct the spelling errors in her email. I explained that we understand a hastily written message and would leave the message as she sent it.