Ivotronic machines and write-in voting

Published October 16, 2013 by justicewg

From VerifiedVoting.orgIf you want to vote for a write-in candidate for school board on November 5th, you need to understand how the Ivotronic voting machines work. I sent an email to the Franklin county BOE and got some info from Dana Walch, the Deputy Director.

Using the machine

I never voted for a write-in candidate on the Ivotronic voting machines, my experience was with the old clunky lever machines, which opened up a slot and required you to write a name on a piece of paper. There was always the danger that people who had poor penmanship would make an illegible scrawl with that system, and I’m sure spelling mistakes invalidated some votes. Things are a bit improved with the electronic machines.

This YouTube vid explains the process of voting for a write-in (jump to 1:19 if you are in a hurry). The short version – touch the slot that says “write-in”, an on-screen keyboard will allow you to enter the name. One name per write-in slot.

What about over voting, could you vote for more than three candidates in the school board race and cause your vote to be rejected? What if you voted for the two on the regular ballot and tried to vote for more than one write-in candidates?

The voting machines will not permit you to vote for more than the allowable number of candidates. In your example, if you vote for the two listed candidates, the machine will only allow you to vote for one write-in candidate. If you attempt to vote for two write-in candidates after already having marked two listed candidates, the machine will instruct you that you must de-select one of the candidates you have already selected.

What about spelling – and do we have to remember first and last name?

If the voter has written in part of an eligible write-in candidate’s name, the board of elections must count a vote in which a voter has written in only the first or last name of the candidate, if there is only one eligible write-in candidate with that first or last name. However, if there are two or more write-in candidates with the same first or last name, the voter must provide sufficient information for election officials to determine the voter’s intent in order for the vote to be counted. This is listed out in Secretary of State Directive 2013-19 which can be found here (http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/Upload/elections/directives/2013/Dir2013-19.pdf).

Since none of the school board candidates has the same first name, you could get away with typing only the first name. I would suggest entering the last name of the candidate if you are in too much of a hurry to write-in the full name.

What about the nag screen after you have finished voting – will it remind you that you have not filled in a name in the write-in section of the school board race?

On our Ivotronic voting machines, the voters are giving a generic reminder if they have not voted for the allowable number of candidates in any given race. They are not reminded that they can specifically still vote for a write-in candidate or any listed candidate, just that there are more possible spots for which they could vote. Dana Walch, Deputy Director,  FCBOE

This is where the regular ballot candidates have a big advantage. If you get a nag screen that tells you that you have not voted for all of the possible candidates, the low information voter will return to the school board race and see that they need to make three selections to stop the nag. The easy votes will be for the two regular ballot names. If they can’t remember a write-in name, some people will skip the vote, some will enter Mickey Mouse (and that vote will not be counted).

I don’t think the second place write-in candidate has much chance of getting on to the board, the write-in process is such a weird, half real, not at all easy vote. Almost no other country in the whole world has write-ins, most other countries have a sensible “on the ballot or off” system.

If you are planning to vote for two of the write-in candidates, let me repeat the math for this vote. Your two choices will not be the same as other people’s two choices. The result will be less votes for all of the write-in candidates, and will improve the chances of the regular ballot candidates. I’m guessing Douglass will win no matter what you vote, but if you don’t want to see Jesse Truett on the school board, vote for all three write-ins.


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