Voter Fraud … Or Not

There have been lots of worries that this year’s presidential election might be rigged. Donald Trump has raised the specter of voter fraud. One prime suspect: Electronic voting machines that have somehow become programmed to switch a voter’s selection from one candidate to another. But is the threat real?

The AJC is reporting that in at least one case, a voting machine in Bryan County switched a voter’s choice in the presidential election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump Is the state’s election system compromised to switch votes to the GOP candidate? Well, maybe not so much.

Merle King, executive director of the state’s Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, said it seemed likely that the issue was related to the machine’s calibration.

Georgia, since 2002, has used what in the industry are called “direct-recording electronic” voting machines, or DREs, known by voters for their touch screens. To accurately collect a voter’s intent, the touch screen must be tilted toward the voter at approximately a 45-degree angle. If it is improperly calibrated, King said, it will mark the voter’s choice either above or below the intended target area.

In this instance, King said, “it sounds like the voter did the correct thing — they checked the summary screen for correctness before casting the ballot.”

There are several lessons to take away from this. First, what may appear to be deliberate fraud may actually be a technical issue with the machine. Second, if you suspect there is something wrong with the voting machine, don’t cast your ballot. Then it’s too late. Talk to the person in charge of the poll location, who can effectively void your ballot and give you another opportunity to vote on a different machine. This voter called the AJC, but you can also reach the Secretary of State’s fraud hotline at 877-725-9797, or fill in a fraud form on the Secretary of State’s website.

And perhaps most important, be sure to review your choices on the summary screen to ensure the candidates you want are the ones marked on the ballot before casting your vote.


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