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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

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Jacob iChat

That’s me on the big screen (from Los Angeles) having an iChat about Why Tuesday? and American voter participation with Diana Laufenberg’s high school juniors (in Philadelphia) last week. You can read more about our chat, and how we met on Twitter, on Diana’s blog. Here’s a preview:

Last Tuesday (how fitting), Jacob iChatted in at the end of the school day to 60 juniors all jammed into my classroom. They spent the next 45 minutes trading ideas and questions about voting, civic motivations and US history. It was spectacular. When we debriefed on Thursday, many of the kids felt like this was a wonderful way to ‘have class’. A majority of hands went up when I asked if they would like me to try and arrange for other experts to iChat in. When I asked them what they liked about the iChat, they were most impressed that during their conversation with Jacob, he didn’t just talk *at* them. They genuinely felt like he was interested in their ideas and the process of sharing thoughts, rather than just hearing himself talk. (so good)

Be sure to follow me, Why Tuesday? and Diana on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

PA Sec. of State: No Systemic Voting Problems

I’m watching Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes give a press briefing on a CNN.com live video stream.

CNN Cortes

“This has been a very good election,” he said. “Back in 2006 we faced issues with the voting systems itself,” and this year he says his department isn’t seeing “systemic” problems including those with voting machines.

Cortes said there were voting machine malfunctions, but not what county the voting machines malfunctioned in (the reporter didn’t ask a follow-up question). He noted that only specific machines, and never entire polling places, encountered problems. Here’s our look into potential trouble areas with voting machines.

What was your PA voting experience? Let us know the good, the bad and the ugly and we’ll share your story.

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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Good News from the New York Times

NYT

Qualification: as long as the voting machines hold up. From Jeff Zeleny and John M. Broder:

Officials said the turnout was shaping up to at least double the 26 percent recorded in the 2004 primary, and perhaps approach that of a general election, even though there is no presidential contest on the Republican side. “It’s a crazy day,” said Stacy Sterner, chief clerk in Lehigh County, who noted that one polling place had 100 people waiting to vote when it opened at 7 a.m. Eastern time. “If I didn’t know better,” she said, “I would think it was November.”

Click here for more.

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

WITF: PA Official Confident Vote Will Go Smoothly

Jen Rehill, the Bureau Chief of WITF Public Radio Capitol News reported earlier this month that a large influx of new voter registrations was creating a backlog for the state of Pennsylvania, throwing into question when and how the votes of these new voters would be counted.

Rehill filed an update to her story on Friday, and it looks as though officials in Pennsylvania are confident the registrations have been processed, the new voters will appear in the local poll books and be able to cast ballots that will be counted in a timely fashion. From WITF:

Many county officials had voiced concerns about two weeks ago that tens of thousands of new and party-change registrations were stuck in the statewide voter registration system awaiting verification. They were worried large numbers of new voters would have to cast provisional ballots. State Elections Commissioner Harry Van Sickle says that concern is greatly diminished now, since all of the applications have now been verified and returned to the counties.

Van Sickle says there still may be a larger than usual number of voters requesting such ballots — because some people sent in applications after the March 24th deadline or made mistakes on their application form. Unfortunately Van Sickle says the votes would not count, even if they do use a provisional ballot.

Here’s audio from Rehill’s interview with Van Sickle:

In Rehill’s piece, Van Sickle doesn’t discuss another potential Election Day issue in the Keystone State that we have been looking into here, trouble with touch-screen voting machines.

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Photo Essay: ABC News Philly Debate

My view of our afternoon and evening at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Click any photo for a larger view, and check out our Flickr photostream for more.

George S

(more…)

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Statement from PA Department of State

Yesterday I spoke to Pennsylvania Department of State Director of Communications Leslie Amorós about our look into the trouble with the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine in New Jersey, and how the same machines will be used on Tuesday in Pennsylvania. In response, she sent me the following statement:

From: [Leslie Amorós]
Subject: RE: Edward Felten Interview
Date: April 17, 2008 6:04:10 PM EDT
To: [Jacob Soboroff]

Thank you for sending me the link.

As we discussed earlier, two of 67 counties in PA uses the Sequoia Advantage, and one of the counties has used the system since 1996. Since the 2006 implementation of using voting systems that met Help America Vote Act requirements, Pennsylvania successfully has conducted 4 elections.

The PA Department of State is committed to holding fair, accurate and accessible elections. To keep informed, the Department of State consistently monitors various news, studies and literature regarding elections.

In Pennsylvania, electronic voting systems must undergo a statutorily required testing process. The system must be tested by a federal independent testing authority. Then, unlike some states that only require the federal testing, Pennsylvania law requires a second tier of testing. The state testing is conducted by two independent testing examiners. After successful results of both testing processes in Pennsylvania, the Secretary of the Commonwealth certifies the system for use in PA. Counties then select the system that they will use from the list of certified systems.

Keep in mind that holding successful elections is a result of many factors, not just the voting systems. Poll worker training and numerous security measures are implemented to ensure an efficient election. For example, before voting systems are used by voters, the county conducts logic and accuracy tests to ensure that each of the voting the systems are tallying votes correctly.

The link referred to in the e-mail is my video-chat with Princeton computer scientist Edward Felten. For a look at what the Mayor of Philadelphia, the Governor of Pennsylvania and a Pennsylvania Congressman think about this issue, click here.

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Why Tuesday? is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections... More

The Answer

In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote... More

Recent Comments

Patrick, France is a post-Christian secular country. Relatively few of them attend church, and voting on Sunday does not interfere with their religious practices, because most of the population is not religious...

Posted by John on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

In France they last voted on a Sunday. France is despite the Bourbon legacy a largely Catholic country, yet they vote on Sunday...

Posted by Patrick on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I think weekend voting would make the most sense, as people wouldn't have tu run home after work or wake up early to hit the polling stations beforehand.

Posted by Zander on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?