Election 2012: Hacking, Malfunctioning Machines, Bounced E-mails, and The Plea

The US election is in full swing and Americans have cast their vote, re-electing President Obama.  But it wasn’t an easy process.  Voters this year were plagued with issues like malfunctioning voting machines, e-mail voting exceeded capacity and Google co-founder’s reality-check statement regarding the election.

The malfunctioning machines

Some voters stated that they experienced malfunctioning machines wherein their votes were changed, leading them to believe that the machines were hacked.  But others stated that the touchscreen were not properly calibrated.  A lot of voters have taken their qualms to Twitter, relaying how the machines have changed their votes.

One Twitter user stated, “The whole “Voting machine changed my Romney vote to Obama” just sounds like ppl who don’t know how to use a touch screen or voting machine.”

However, one user on Reddit was able to capture the malfunctioning machine on video, which showed how the person was voting for Obama but the option being picked was Romney.

The likelihood that the machines have been hacked, though, are pretty low, as our Founding Editor Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins explained on NewsDesk yesterday, and later in great detail on his personal blog.

“The malfunction on this machine is most likely due to an un-calibrated resistive touch screen, or quite possibly due to a dirty power issue, which can adversely affect touchscreens,” said Hopkins. “The most disturbing aspect of this wasn’t that the machine malfunctioned – that happens everywhere. It was that the election judges in Ohio allegedly regarded it as ‘no big deal.'”

The bouncing e-mails

New Jersey was one of the casualties of Hurricane Sandy and to help displaced people vote, they offered e-mail voting.  The option quickly raised security issues as e-mail was one of the quickest and easiest way to be hijacked, but they are facing a totally different situation – the inboxes assigned to receive ballots are already full.

According to BuzzFeed, the assigned e-mail addresses, asmith@co.morris.nj.us, info@essexclerk.com, are not receiving e-mails.  But voters still had the option of faxing their votes or sending their votes to Essex County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin’s personal account at cj_durkin@hotmail.com, which is posted on Facebook.

Wired magazine’s editor Jason Tanz, a resident of Essex County, e-mailed his ballot to the clerk but received no response as to whether his ballot was received.  He called twice and e-mailed regarding his ballot only to find out that the e-mail address was bouncing.

“If you’re going to do something like this, you have to do it right,” Tanz said in an e-mail to BuzzFeed. “This was obviously a rush job, and I’m sure thousands of people won’t be able to vote because they couldn’t figure out where to send their applications, and couldn’t get anyone to tell them.

“It’s really maddening,” he said. “I’ve sent in my application three times now, and I still don’t know if I’m going to get a chance to vote tomorrow.”

Durkin responded to the issue stating that they are doing everything to iron out the situation and making sure that everyone who wants to vote can, reiterating that votes can be sent to his personal e-mail or faxed at 973-621-2644.

The plea

Ahead of the election, Google co-founder Sergey Brin posted on his Google+ account a very interesting plea to those running for the election.  He did not discuss who he was voting for, nor did he voice out who he wanted to win.  What he wanted to convey to the candidates was that if they win, leave the parties behind and lead as an independent because nothing will happen if they just focus on “how to stick it to the other party.”

“So my plea to the victors — whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit.  It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country,” Brin wrote.

Brin has a very solid point, as this is what happens in any government.  We saw this throughout the election season, and it would be disheartening to see party-bashing continue to the detriment of an entire nation.