What a Ballot Looks Like

Pete's BallotMy wife Robin and I voted this morning and we asked for paper ballots. Being a candidate with a computer background causes a frequent question about voting that I happily answer, “Paper and pencil.”

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest. The Canadians vote on paper ballots and are able to count their national votes in around four hours.

There has been news of problems with machines throughout Utah. If you encounter a polling location that is having problems, it is the law that the poll workers give you a provisional ballot. Do not take “No” for an answer! Whether or not you ask for a paper ballot at a polling location with working machines is up to you.

If you do not know your polling location in Utah, go to this website. If you need help getting to the polls, drop me an email or call the campaign office at 801-983-7383.

Most of all, VOTE! Let your voice be heard!

18 thoughts on “What a Ballot Looks Like

  1. I tried to find out if there was an option to use a paper ballot, because I would have rather used paper. I couldn’t find anything saying I could do that, unless I had to do a “Provisional Ballot” or because the machines broke down. In retrospect, I am glad that I was able to use the electronic voting machine. Not all of Utah’s e-voting machines have a paper trail, but mine did. I was able to see each line it printed out with my votes, which makes me a lot more comfortable that a recount would be feasible.

    One question – will your vote be counted in with the rest of the e-votes, or will it be a “Provisional Ballot”?

  2. I voted first thing this morning in Sandy (precinct 4666) and didn’t have any problems as far as I can tell. At least there are paper trails. Hopefully there aren’t paper jams. There’s also a barcode at the end of each vote. I think there were 8 machines with lines 3-4 people long at 7:15AM. There was also someone from the Salt Lake county election board there so we certainly had good supervision in my precinct.

    I’d certainly be interested in knowing how many machines and people were in likely Democratic districts.

    I wonder if someone will do a study comparing the results with an audit of the paper trails to see how accurate the counts were.

  3. I voted this morning in Salt Lake(precinct 2154), there was no wait and no apparent problems with the machines there. I did like the paper ballot confirmation on each page that it printed….of course if could be I just like the illusion of being in control. 🙂

  4. Just be sure to demand your recount, Pete, regardless of how close the vote does or does not come. You get your first one free, and then they have to count all of our paper “receipt” votes (I don’t believe they have to count thus unless you call for a recount.)

    If it turns out there’s a huge discrepancy between the electronic tally and the paper count, the flaws will be exposed for all Utahns to see. =D

  5. Don’t be too confident in those paper trails. Other states had bad experiences trying to recount votes from those rolls in 2004. They’re so hard to count and fragile that doing a full recount with them is nearly impossible. The 1% random verification of voting machine totals against counts of the paper rolls will help — assuming they actually count the printed votes and don’t just compare the printed totals with the electronic totals.

    I voted on a paper ballot. That doesn’t completely eliminate the problems because many of the security holes discovered have been in the central tabulation system, which my vote will go through anyway, but it does at least eliminate a couple of classes of possible error and/or fraud.

  6. If you are voting provisionally for any reason, you might want to bring proof of residency (utility bill or something). When I registered in mid-October, I was told that all I would need was my copy of the registration form, a valid photo ID, and the last four digits of my social security number, but when I got there to vote, they required that I have proof of residency. I walked home and back with a gas bill (thank goodness it’s not in my roommate’s name), but that easily added 40 minutes to my time.

    The option to vote straight party scares me. Up there at the top of the form, it almost feels like it’s asking “what party are you a member of.” Most of the local races only had Republicans running, I could definitely see how voting a straight ticket might save a little time, but it makes people too comfortable with the party that they chose to register with 10,20, or 30 years ago.

    Good luck Pete! I’ll be wearing my Ashdown sweatshirt tomorrow no matter what the outcome is.

  7. I just voted (2:30 P.M.) in Davis County and had no problems with the electronic voting machines. It did print a paper back up of my votes and there were no lines at the polling station. They did not ask for any I.D. which is a bit of a concern in that anyone could walk in and vote under an assumed name. Of course most of the folks seemed to know each other (I assume from church) so only a few of us were “odd men out”. Best of luck, you ran a good, clean campaign and brought up important issues.

  8. My voting experience with the Diebold machines was very painless. I voted for you pash, and I wish you good luck tonight. I am hoping this state wakes up and uses some logic instead of continuing to be sheep.

  9. I’m hoping that 1% recount is reliable in case the machines are programed to print up one thing, but tally another.

    I can imagine a scenario where a machine is programed to count ever 3rd vote for a dem as a repub, but to print up what the person enters on the printed receipt. Without an open source code, anything can happen. Public elections are too important for trade secrets by a company that is ultra-supportive of the Republican party

  10. I’m based in California and while I can’t vote for Pete Ashdown in Utah, I can say that Ashdown has made a great effort running against Orrin Hatch when none pushed him to. That’s a noble effort and he should be applauded for it. I may have said before but Pete really should continue to be a voice for Democrats. Out of all the Democratic candidates that have run for the U.S. Senate in this election, two of them come to mind as the freshest faces: 1) Jim Webb (running for Virginia) and 2) Pete Ashdown. I say this because both candidates are independent-minded Democrats, very articulate, well-informed about the issues and have strong, principled morals. Ashdown, in particular, impressed me in the debates. I thought he was confident and didn’t loose a note when even testing Orrin Hatch on the issues. That says a lot for a Democrat running for the Senate in a state like Utah, which was once even more conservative when my mother grew up in Ogden, Utah (in a conservative Mormon family).

    Keep up the good work Pete!

  11. So much for battling paranoia . I just spent the last couple of days supporting an election in a county in a different state. I was able to vote for Pete before I left Utah. In dealing with the election process from a very intimate process I can say that EVERYONE seems to be quite paranoid, but the truth is that the process is pretty reliable.

    In Utah, and many other states, a roll of registered voters is prepared before the election day. A manual tally is kept at the poll and reported independently of the vote totals. If there is a discrepancy it is usually big trouble. In our case we were EXACT. Of course it took a lot of work to get that far, and no we did not use Diebold equipment.

    Just remember that the bigest problems with the election process in the United States today are:

    1. The average age of poll workers and election judges in the United States is 72 years. Maybe it is time for the youunger, more techincal generations, to get involved.

    2. The press is all too quick to proclaim a winner WAY TO FAST. In our case we literally had to kick out members of the press while we were going through the tedious process of tabulating votes. It is a VERY LONG DAY for most election workers that started for us at about 4:00 AM.

    3. I love paper ballots because it gives an ultimate tool for verifying the vote. Unfortunately paper ballots can be a problem for the machines that are used to count them. Far too many voters will fold, mangle, and otherwise damage ballots. I saw ballots that were so damages, smeared with heaven knows what, that it makes me wonder how it is possible for County Clerks to get even close.

    We have a lot to imporve in the process, but then there are also a lot of safeties in place as well.

    Looking at the vote that has now been reported dosen’t look great for Pete, but then IT SENDS A STRONG MESSAGE to Hatch. It is really time for him to retire, as he stated his wife had mentioned to him, while in a meeting of business leaders earler this year in Box Elder county. hatch is out of touch and Pete is not. I have spoken with hundreds of friends and associates over the last several months, and it was rare to find someone who would not agree that it was time for Hatch to go. The problem is that he launched a huge TOUCHEY FEELEY campaign as it got closer.

    If only Hatch had told the whole story, like explaining how bold he is while saying how old he is. Or explaining that being in office so long gave him the power of influence, but then left him out of touch (so we are left with an influence peddlre).

    No matter how it turns out I am SO PROUD of the job that Pete has done! Hatch is a very difficult opponent, in a very diffiult state. All I can say is congratulations on an amazing campaign, and one that was relatively free of the kinds of trouble that tends to degrade the process.

  12. I have to say, I did not vote for Pete because he was running as a Democrat. The Republicans are bad news, but the Democrats are absolutely evil as a party. Pete is a fine fellow and if he had run for a principled third party I may have been able to vote for him. As it was, I voted the Libertarian candidate, as I knew that Hatch was going to win anyway.

  13. This is the first year I have voted. I never really cared much before, kind of sad. People like Pete place hope back into the political community. Whether or not this state is predominately Republican, I am glad to have voted for Pete Ashdown. I think there is WAY too much emphasis placed on which party you run for. Just to vote for or against someone just because of their party and not who they are is ridicules. I voted for some Republicans and some Democrats… Whomever I think will do the better job.

  14. Pete, Congratulations on your fine campaign. I’m so sorry that you lost, but you took on a big task and did a great job. I really feel you had impact across the state. It was an uphill battle and you didn’t win, but your campaign was principled and high class all the way. This was a start, but you’ll have something to build from for your next effort.


  15. Pete,
    Impressive run against the odds. You got a LOT of votes. Keep up your fellow UT citizens hope, faith, support, and most of all committment to real change for the betterment of humanity. Most Sincerely, a Californian for Issues That Matter.

  16. I voted with the new machine and thought it was great. The machines at my polling spot had a print out that showed exactly what my vote was … despite the fact that my votes were different than what the party in power would have preferred.

    I suspect that all the new voting equipment just gave the United States one of the cleanest and fraud free elections in its history.

    Paper voting might feel better, but the margin of error is too high. It is technically easier to stuff boxes with paper ballots, remove ballots or even replace an entire ballot boxes than it is to get at a protected database.

    While most of us are paranoid about using credit cards online, most indentity theft seems to come from printed receipts, than from online purchases. I suffered several instances of cashiers charging my card the wrong amount, I have not had a case of a web site charging my card a different amount than reported on the machine.

    In this election, I am less concerned with the voting machines than I am with what appears to be a one sided effort posed to discredit the election if it did not turn out in the Democrat’s favor. I’ve been to meetings where the talking point was to put together a case that Republicans rigged the election. The effort should be placed on assuring the quality of the vote. I fear that some of the current poll watching effort was designed to discredit the election process.

    If the world falls into the pattern of the left discrediting all elections that they lose, then we will end up dstroying the ability to engage in democracy. Look at the post election violence in Mexico. The dictator’s mantra is: If you can’t win, then discredit the process.

    I am so thankful that the Republicans lost the House and probably the Senate. If more Republicans had turned out to vote, then we would be bombarded with accusations of fraud.

    Historically, election fraud has occurred in both parties. My family came from the South. The greater part of the effort to prevent blacks from voting prior to the civil rights movement came from Democrats trying to keep blacks from siding with the party of Lincoln. Arguably, some of the fraud and election intimidation changed party when the Dixiecrats split from the Democratic party.

    It appears that election fraud has existed in both parties. It appears that the fraud sometimes moves from party to party. In states with corrupt political machines, one occasionally finds news stories of an entire cemetery switching parties prior to a primary.

    To make matters worse, sometimes fraudsters project their methods onto their opponent. A person who commits fraud might project a claim of fraudulent behavior onto their opponent.

    Instead of a one-sided effort to make us fear the election process, I wish the effort was concentrated on assuring accuracy and quality of the vote.

    The machine I used did both a database entry and printed the votes on a role of paper. This mechanism with a paper trail and database entry is probably the cleanest and most accurate way of polling the vote. I think the new equipment is making the process more accurate. Considering the problems of paper ballots, I don’t think they have the accuracy needed in the paper thin margins that have occurred in recent years.

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