Most people don’t consider voter machine inspection to be part of political advocacy, but a group of Temple students inspected voting machines to ensure the integrity of the machines that are going to be used in Philadelphia for the upcoming election.The students’ participation in the event was set up by associate political science professor Robin Kolodny and was held at the city’s voting machine warehouse at 4700 Wissahickon Ave.
“If the word gets out that a group of citizens tested out the machines, it would give voters confidence that votes would be counted accurately.” Kolodny said.
All of the machines passed inspection. Their only complication was with the write-in portion of the ballot on a few machines.
Students were instructed on the inspections by Committee of Seventy’s Election Program Coordinator Jonathan David, a 2007 Temple graduate. Students started testing the machines by filling the ballot as many times as necessary to make sure all the candidates’ buttons were pushed. The students tested out about 120 machines, totaling about two machines from every city distinct.
On hand to watch over the event was the executive director of the Committee of Seventy, Frederick Voight, several candidates and a few technicians who helped the students with the machines. Volunteers from the campaigns of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were also in attendance, but did not comment.
Electronic voting machines have been source of controversy because people are afraid their votes would not be counted and the possibility that the machines could be hacked.
“You have a fear of electronics,” Voight said. “People have their computers hacked. People forget that the great revolution of last century was to get rid of paper ballots. They had to be hand-counted by human beings, who easily be corrupted.”
Voight added that “hacking” the machines is almost impossible.
“The machines are independent of each other and of any other system. There is no way for anybody to hack into the machines directly,” Voight said. “The connection the machines have to outside world is the power backup, connected into the wall. There is no internet or online connection. The places where the votes are counted, the regional and central counting centers are connected by secure T1 lines.”
Temple students also had their opinions on the event.
“I’m here to make sure the machines are working for a fair election,” said Bob Orloski, a freshman international business major.
Charles Archie, a technician who has worked on voting machines since 1976, said that voting machines rarely cause problems in election results.
“The machines are never the cause of the problem of elections,” Archie said. “It is always the provincial and absentee ballots.”
Anthony Myers can be reached at email@example.com
Photo by Nic Lukehart