I'm on my way to Florida to be a "roving technologist" in VerifiedVoting.org's TechWatch program - part of the Election Protection coalition. If you're curious about what we're doing, or want to help, read on...
I just got training earlier this week through a couple of conference calls, and... wow. VerifiedVoting, with the help of the EFF, has set up a nationwide database and tracking system for election incidents: the Election Incident Reporting System. All calls to the Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) are being entered into this system, along with reports from Election Protection volunteers. They tested it for some primaries earlier this fall, and it's been up and running ever since, dealing with voter registration, absentee ballot, and early voting issues.
Take a look. Go to http://voteprotect.org/epc/ and click on Research/Maps. You can view maps by state and by county within state, color coded by numbers of incidents reported. Click on a county and you can see summaries of all the calls. Or, select a particular incident type to view. Have you heard about voters in Austin TX trying to vote a straight Democratic ticket and getting Bush? Well, here are machine-related incidents reported in Travis County, TX. Or, how about a map of Florida showing where people have reported voter intimidation. All of this is going to be available and updated in real time, on election day. And after the election is over, we'll have, for the first time, nationwide statistics on voting problems, with detail.
VerifiedVoting also collected a lot of information about voting equipment, which you can find at http://verifiedvoting.org/verifier/ - in many cases, you can actually find online demos and technical manuals for the voting machines used in the location you select. Such as the troublesome machines in Austin, for example.
Wanna help? Election Protection could still use a lot more volunteers! TechWatch needs more people with computer skills, all around the country. I heard on last night's conference call that we especially need a few more tech-savvy volunteers for the hotline call centers in New York City and DC - both of which are already active and taking calls from around the country. And we need more poll-watches in any area where new touchscreen/DRE voting machines are being used. If you want to volunteer, send an email ASAP to email@example.com. There are a few more training conference calls scheduled for the next couple of days, and the complete set of training materials for TechWatch is available online.
You can also donate to the Election Protection effort. One of the coalition partners, People for the American Way, has a challenge grant up to $150,000, for the final few days.
Wherever you are, sign up at VoteWatch and report your precinct's vote tallies on election day. One of the best ways to protect against problems with the central tabulating computers that add up all the votes from polling places in their region, is to collect the data separately from those polling places and make it public, so people can compare those reports to the officially reported results. That's a big part of what VoteWatch is doing.
Oh, and you can also help me personally, if you know anyone in Florida who'd give me a place to stay, so I don't have to spend on a motel room :) I'm going to need to be in one of the counties that is using DRE voting machines. Especially Palm Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, or Orlando.