Diebold DRS Jackknifes Folded Mail Ballot (Video)
The Executive's reckless plan to overhaul our elections includes all new hardware for mail ballot processing. We have very significant concerns about the Diebold DRS PS900 iM2 units we intend to buy.
Well. I've got some good news and some bad news. First the bad news.
(more below the fold)
The Bad News
The Diebold DRS PS900 iM2 has known problems with folded mail ballots. (Ballots are folded to fit in the envelopes. They get squished flat before being scanned.)
Scotland just had an election meltdown in May. The Open Rights Group reports that the DRS PS900 iM2 had trouble with folded mail ballots. The DRS company agreed to pay compensation. (Previously blogged as Can Diebold Count Mail Ballots?.)
Cuyahoga County Elections got a demo of the DRS earlier this year. Lou Irizarry, their technical guru, reports that their folded mail ballots got stuck in the DRS. Lou strongly encouraged us to try before we buy, to verify the DRS works with our ballots.
King County Elections also got a demo of the DRS just a few months back. Again, the DRS exhibited a problem with folded mail ballots.
What's interesting is that each jurisdiction has reported a different problem with folded mail ballots.
The Good News
I have video from King County's demo of the DRS. It shows a folded mail ballot jackknifing inside the DRS. It happens at time code 0:52. That's me, sounded like an idiot, saying "unh" when it happens. (I didn't fully appreciate what had happened at the time.)
Here's a higher resolution screen capture of a folded mail ballot jackknifing.
Watch very closely! The Diebold rep knows there's a problem. His hand is in motion before the folded mail ballot jackknifes. So his hand is right there to pick it up when it happens.
The Diebold rep was smooth. If you watch the video, other than my "unh", no one says "boo" when it happens. For my part, it was only after I inspected my video (frame by frame) afterwards that I figured out what happened.
Maybe what I saw is a huge problem. Maybe it isn't.
What I do know is that every jurisdiction we spoke with had some kind of problem with folded mail ballots.
At the very least, we must insist that King County Elections demonstrate that the DRS PS900 iM2 can handle our folded mail ballots before any purchase is made. This must be done in public. 3 or 4 batches (of 200 mail ballots each) is a good start.
Please call your councilmember and insist the DRS is tested before we buy. Thank you.