Friday, September 26, 2003

Voter coercion in Boston?
The Boston Globe breaks a big story about polling workers in Boston's Asian neighborhoods trying to influence the outcome of the election: ["Coercion of voters reported in Chinatown"]. This was the first election with the Accuvote optical scanning voting machines and things seem to go without a hitch - except that some poll workers may have been using the lack of knowledge about the machines to influence voters. Here are the posted results of the city council preliminary election: Election Summary Report. Look at the number of blanks: 230 - shockingly low compared to past municipal elections with those ancient lever machines. And only two overvotes, which means only two people cast a ballot with a mistake, an unbelievably low number.
However, look at the undervotes: 32,352 - a huge number. This means that only 4,000 voters cast votes for four candidates, while the other 32,000 plus, limited their choices to one or two candidates. Also, a disappointing 13.6 percent turnout. It would be interesting to see the precinct by precinct numbers. I also may take a look at past election results and compare them. The key to all of this is the optical scanning machines have provided an opportunity for the voters' vote to actually be recorded, especially in light of how many votes were lost in those ancient lever machines.

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