What Election Judges See
This fall, Widener University Chief Information Officer Eric Behrens '92, Facilities and Capital Projects Technology Coordinator Mary Hasbrouck, and Facilities Management ADA Program Coordinator Susan Smythe discussed "What Election Judges See: Ways You Can Fail to Get Your Vote Counted in Pennsylvania."
Each currently serves their community as an election judge. In the discussion, they discuss issues surrounding voting in Pennsylvania: closed primaries, no early voting, and absentee ballots only for those who are away on election day. Pennsylvania requires that voters register no later than 30 days before an election. Further, volunteers serve in the precincts on election day, and it is frequently difficult to find enough people to volunteer. The speakers share what they have seen at polling places, what might cause a vote to be invalidated or lost, and on what kinds of matters they exercise discretion.
This talk is part of the Second Tuesday Cafe lecture series, which this fall focuses on the 2016 presidential election and its significance. Co-convened this year by Richter Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff and Visiting Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies Sa’ed Atshan '06, the talks provided interdisciplinary perspectives on critical issues underlying the campaign and the likely consequences of the election on domestic and foreign affairs. Sponsored each year by the Aydelotte Foundation, these monthly talks are geared for individuals with no formal background in the subject being discussed. The only requirement is curiosity.
Eric Behrens '92 is chief information officer of Widener University. Prior to that, he worked at Swarthmore for 24 years, rising from a network technician to associate CITO. Eric has completed the third year of his term as judge of elections for Nether Providence Township, 7th ward, 1st precinct. He served a previous four-year term as majority inspector of elections for the same district. He is also a three-term elected member of Delaware County Democratic Committee and a vice chair for the Nether Providence Democrats.
Mary Hasbrouck has been the judge of elections at Swarthmore's Eastern Precinct since November 2005. Her prior involvement consisted of knocking on doors and handing out leaflets, but she found the 2000 presidential election process so disheartening that she told the local Democratic committee chair she would be willing to help out in future elections. When the previous judge moved away, the committee called her bluff. She has worked at Swarthmore since 1984, spending 15 years in Academic Computing and now as technology coordinator for Facilities and Capital Projects.
Susan Smythe is ADA program manager/senior project manager in the Facilities Management Department. She has spent many years at the College in a variety of capacities. Susan is the daughter of a Philadelphia committee person and started early with canvassing and mailings. Susan served eight years on Borough Council in Swarthmore, the last four as Council President. She currently serves as Swarthmore's representative to the CDCA. Prior to becoming a judge of elections in Swarthmore’s Western Precinct in 2013, she served as a poll worker and poll watcher.
Eric Jensen: Hi everybody. Why don't we go ahead and get started? I'm Eric Jensen, I'm Professor of Astronomy and also Environmental Studies, and I'm also director of the Aydelotte Foundation, and so I'm really happy to see everybody here at this final fall semester version of our Second Tuesday Café. And it's my great pleasure to introduce our three distinguished panelists. So starting on the far end, I'm very pleased, as I know many of us are, to see Eric Behrens. Eric recently became ... he's gonna stay. He told me he's back and he's not ... Eric recently became the-
Eric Behrens: Depending on your applause, I may or may not stay.
Eric Jensen: The chief information officer of Widener University. Prior to that, as many of you know, he worked at Swarthmore for 24 years, rising from network technician to associate CITO, leading academic technologies, media services, web services, and the recently merged Language and Media Centers. He graduated with Swarthmore with his BA in Theater Studies and holds an MA from Gonzaga University in Organizational Leadership. He serves as professional organization EDUCAUSE as a faculty member for the new IT Managers Institute. Eric has completed the third year of his term as judge of elections, capacity in which he's speaking here today, as an expert for Nether Providence Township, Seventh Ward, First Precinct. He served a previous four-year term as majority inspector of elections for the same district. He's also a three-term elected member of Delaware County Committee and a vice chair for the Nether Providence Democrats.
Next is Susan Smythe. Susan is the ADA Program Manager and senior project manager in the facilities department here at Swarthmore. She spent many years in the college in a variety of capacities, and as the daughter of a Philadelphia committee person, she started early in politics, with canvassing and mailings, and she served eight years on Bureau Council in Swarthmore, the last four as Council President. She currently serves as Swarthmore's representative to the central Delaware County authority, and prior to becoming a judge of elections in Swarthmore's western precinct in 2013, she served many years as a poll worker and poll watcher, both in Swarthmore and elsewhere. Susan graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in history.
And then, finally, last but not least, Mary Hasbrouck has been judge of elections at Swarthmore's eastern precinct, so we have the eastern and the western precincts represented here. Since November 2005, her early involvement in the election system consisted of a few instances of knocking on doors and handing out leaflets, but she found the 2000 presidential election process so disheartening that she told the local Democratic Committee Chair that she'd be willing to help out in future elections, so that's always a dangerous thing to do unless you really mean it! So when the previous judge moved away, the Committee called her bluff, and so, there she is. So Mary graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Physics ... oh, she, I don't get any cheers for that. And a minor in Computer Science. She's worked at Swarthmore since 1984, spending 15 years in academic computing and then moving to the bricks-and-mortar side of the college, as Technology Coordinator for facilities and capital projects. So a warm welcome to our three expert panelists. Now I'm gonna turn it over to Ben Berger, Professor of Political Science and director of the Lang Center, to kick us off! Thanks.
Ben Berger: Great, thanks Eric. Thank you so much, all, for being here. So cool. [inaudible 00:03:28] for Carol Nackenoff, who's having foot surgery today, so if y'all want to send your get well cards to Carol, we are sending good vibes her way right now. She'll be on crutches, but quickly back in action, and I know Carol. [inaudible 00:03:41]
So, what this is a great culmination of, a theme that Aydelotte, along with the Lang Center and the Center of Innovation and Leadership, have done this whole year, this is the culmination of the semester, a theme that we've had of public discourse in democracy. We've had a bunch of lunches that Aydelotte has sponsored during this fall, and so it's great to have one, not only on the topic of elections in an election year, but also, because it's both made Swarthmore a fabulous place to be, to work at, to teach at, to learn at, is the fact that people who work here are so involved in politics. That's counting you as one who works here, and because you both went here and your aura is still here. So what we're gonna do is just let these great people talk about their experiences by a couple of topics each. I might ask a few questions at some point, but really we'd love to have you all ask questions, either that arise, you can ask questions during the presentation if something is really immediate and it speaks to what's going on, or you can save it for afterwards at the end, alright?
So our first speaker is gonna be Susan, to talk about the structure of what election judges, judges of elections, do.
Susan Smythe: So I first have to say that I am nursing a terrible cold, so, a, I don't have a lot of voice, and b, mentally, I'm somewhere else, but I'll try to stay with you. So, first I want to say, we are just talking about Pennsylvania and we're really just talking about Delaware County, so don't get all excited about what else might be going on in the country or even elsewhere in Pennsylvania because we don't necessarily have that expertise. So we're really just sharing with you our local knowledge. But I was gonna talk about the structure of the election board and something that always amazes me is that essentially, all of this is done by volunteers. Yes, we do get paid the princely sum of between 90 and 100 dollars for the 16-hour day, but essentially it is people just like you who set up these polls every time and make sure that the elections are carried out fairly, and I think that's kind of a remarkable thing about this country, and hopefully we haven't lost that all in this last election.
So the judge of elections is elected there on the ballot every four years, and as is the majority inspector, so-called. So the structure of the board is those two plus a minority inspector, and I always thought that was the person from the opposite party, but it actually isn't, it's just the person who got the lesser number of votes between the majority and minority inspector. And then there are possibly machine inspectors and a clerk. So essentially, we're there to make sure that people get signed in appropriately, that the machines are run appropriately. So for instance, in a primary, you probably get asked which party you are, and some people always get annoyed about that, "Why are you asking me?" Because the machines actually have to be set up that way, so we have to change the machine for each voter so that it counts in the appropriate party. And Pennsylvania has closed primaries, so only people in the two major parties can vote in a primary election.
So essentially, the judge is responsible for collecting these people every time and making sure they show up on time. I'm very lucky, I have a very stalwart crew in the western precinct who have been there for a long time and so I don't generally have an issue with getting people to work, but we certainly do hear across the county about places where people, where there is no ... nobody shows up. So the county has a group of people that is supposed to be sort of the emergency squad and will go open polling places, but it's kind of phenomenal to think that you can show up to vote and there's nobody there. I think, when people are thinking about what they can do to be involved in the process, that's one of the things, its somebody's gotta be there around Election Day to get the polls open and running.
We've also heard stories about people who don't turn in the count at the end of the night, or just take everything home and, "Oh, I'll bring it the next day." Well, no, it doesn't work that way. We, at the end of the day, at 8 o'clock, have to do the count on the machines and do all the tallies and take everything back to Media so it can get appropriately counted. So that's pretty much where I was leaving off.
Ben Berger: And I'll just add to kind of follow up on your point, Susan. In most of the populace wards and [inaudible 00:09:00], probably in what the judge elections or at least as a volunteer, you know, regularly those merge. But in my experience that in most jurisdictions, the positions, which are also elected, majority and minority inspector often go unballoted. So one of the things that you can do is if you know that you're pulling [inaudible 00:09:21] and does seem to be understaffed or perhaps staffed by only people of the opposing party, you might think about whether you could twice a year manage to work as an inspector of elections, which has less responsibility in terms of setting up and closing down, although it does have the 14, 15 hour day, it doesn't have quite the same ... You free yourself up a little bit and just work on the day of checking your voters.
Eric Jensen: Can I just have a quick follow-up on that? Are the people who work at each polling place required to be only voters from that precinct?
Eric Behrens: Yes, yes. You have to live in your precinct.
Mary Hasbrouck: So I, that sort of segues into my ... Can you all hear me? I have a quiet little voice. So, the topic that I, that we chose for me to address was, what types of things do judges of election have discretion over deciding in the course of the day? I'm actually in a precinct where we perennially don't have a minority inspector. Nobody ever runs, so even before election day, at my discretion, I have to round up somebody to be the minority inspector or a team of somebody if I can't find somebody for the whole day. And somebody be the clerk, because usually the minority inspector appoints the clerk, so that's one area that sort of falls on my discretion to find people who're working fair and balanced and do the job well.
At the beginning of the shift on Election Day, the judge of election decides what roles the people on the board will play because there are titles for these positions, but there are no specific rules about the minority inspector will do these tasks during the day, or the majority inspector will do these tasks. So it's up to the judge of elections to say, okay, here's how we'll work things today, why don't you take these votes on a particular [inaudible 00:11:21], you write the names down.
We also have to decide ... the election code says that you cannot have any political activity going on. So you know all those people outside who are handing out the leaflets and everything? That's a political activity. That can't happen inside the polling place. The election code says they have to be 10 feet away from the polling place, but they don't say, you get to draw the line about where's the boundary of the polling place and measure the 10 feet out from that. So some polling places are very small, I work at Borough Hall, and so there's an entrance hall for the library and the Borough Hall and the council room where we are. If it's a nice day, I say to them, "10 feet is outside the building, have a nice day out there." If it's really cold and rainy and these people look so miserable, sometimes I'll say, "Okay, you can come, 10 feet'll be from this door instead of this door. And you can come in the lobby, but you can't come any closer than that far." So that's another example of discretion.
We also have to, when we have watchers come in, people who want to come in and watch what we're doing, so this is an official position not on the board, but they apply to the county for certificates, watcher certificates. And there are watchers for, there can be watchers for each candidate, there can be watchers for each party, and the candidates in some states can have-
Ben Berger: The party's candidates appoint their own watchers.
Mary Hasbrouck: But they have to be certified, they have to have a certified sealed certificate for the day, and they have to present it to the judge of elections, and then you look at it and say, "Okay, that's fine, you sit over here where you're not gonna be interfering, you're allowed to watch what we're doing from the opening of the polls through the closing and the counting of the polls." And they may come and go. If it's a small place, like Susan's working at a gym, they've got oodles of space. We're in a very tight little room, and so I tried to make a corner where they can sit and not get in the way. If too many of them came in, I would say, "Let's balance this out here, it's getting too crowded, we need to give the voters room." I don't intend to get that many watchers in my certificate, in my voting place.
Eric Behrens: With verification, do they have to be registered voters in that area too?
Mary Hasbrouck: No.
Susan Smythe: They have to be residents in the county. That was a big ... you may remember right before Election Day this year, there was a move to try to have watchers be from any county in the state, and that was the ... courts did not allow that to go forward. And they're supposed to be, if they're particular to a candidate, that candidate has to appear on your ballot.
Mary Hasbrouck: But they can go anywhere in the county that their candidate is on the ballot.
Susan Smythe: Right.
Ben Berger: [inaudible 00:14:28]
Susan Smythe: Typically, they're there to see ... in the old days, this is interesting, they used to sit with a street list, so it'd be a list of voters in your precinct and ... because we have to call out the names so they would cross people off, it was a way of, get off the boat, they would go back and say, "So-and-so hasn't voted, so we should call them." [crosstalk 00:14:53]
Mary Hasbrouck: Yeah, not around them.
Ben Berger: Not so much anymore. And then the other thing is, though, they can be there to make sure that the election is being conducted fairly. I don't want to step on Eric's toes, but I have been in that situation where I've seen things that are not Kosher and ... so you can be the one to report that.
Eric Jensen: One of the things that watchers can do that no one else can, besides election [inaudible 00:15:24], is being present at the count after the polls close and there are official things that by being there, you can do things about raising challenges, about some of the ... so they do actually have the capacity. Just by virtue of being there.
Ben Berger: But especially in the area, because Delaware County has historically had a Republican machine. Alright, so, I'm from Chicago, Democratic machine, and there was that in Philadelphia as well, tuned into an unusual Republican suburban machine here, which is lessening in power, but historically was quite strong. And in some of the areas where there are very strong party remnants, though, I've been a poll watcher where people have done just kind of checking off you're talking about, and then going out to call folks who have- they knew each other, too. There's a lot of social capital. They're so well-organized, they've got to call people who hadn't yet shown up to vote.
Eric Behrens: And earlier, [inaudible 00:16:09] ... when I was not an inside worker, being a non-partisan worker on the day of the election, I did that kind of thing. Because the board does have to announce every voter, theoretically, your name should be announced out loud when you come to vote, which kinda creeps some people out but the purpose of that is so that people can verify the voter and also that if there are any challenges, theoretically that's the moment where somebody can say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a second. That's not fair!"
Eric Jensen: Are you gonna answer that? When did those problems come up?
Ben Berger: Yes, we are gonna get to that.
Susan Smythe: Yes, we are. But that's not my topic, so let me go through the rest of my few examples here.
Pennsylvania also, it's state law that, I think it's state law, not county law, that you can't do active electioneering inside the polling place. So that means you can't be talking up your candidate, saying to the person in line in front of you, "Don't forget to vote for Joe Blow." You're allowed to do what's called passive electioneering, which is wear a button for your candidate, or a hat or something like that.
Ben Berger: Voters can, we cannot.
Susan Smythe: Oh yeah. The board can't do anything like that. And we do have people who say, "Okay, who should I vote for?" But they get up to the desk and they ask us, "Who should I vote for?" Sorry, we can't tell you that. But we do-
Eric Jensen: I've decided voters really do exist.
Susan Smythe: They get inside and then they start calling out, "What does this question mean?" They're inside the thing. You really should have looked that up before, I can't help you with that.
And another thing is that, so the board has to verify people's signatures as they're signing in to vote. You go to vote, and the poll book has a stored digital copy of your signature there that we're supposed to compare signature to. Or if you send in an absentee ballot, you're signing your name, and again, your digitized signature is in there that we're supposed to compare the signatures on. And that's something that does take a lot of discretion, because people sign up to vote and over the years, their signature's changed a lot. So we have had minority inspectors in the past who were quite sticklers about, "This signature really doesn't match exactly." So I try to work with the board and go, "Well, how much should we give them the benefit of the doubt here?" So there was one envelope where the minority inspector's going, "No, really, this is not- look at these signatures!" And I'm going, "Yeah, I know, his signature's really changed over time." But he's going, "No, no, there's no way that that's the same person." I said, "Well, that's my son's absentee ballot," and he just turned bright red. He said, "Oh, I guess I can trust you on that." So that was a good one.
Eric was talking about the fact that we're supposed to announce the voter's name out loud and we did have a case a couple years ago, and I apologize if I get any of the terminology wrong here, but it was an individual who was transitioning and had started the legal process to change her name, but had not gotten the county to recognize the new name. And so she came up to the desk and she said, "Before you say anything, could you please not say that name?" She was just very moved about, "Don't say my birthname out loud. That's not the name I'm going by now and it's really important to me." So that was one of those calls ... There weren't any watchers there. The idea behind that law is that the watchers can hear and they can strike the name off or whatever, and I just think, "Okay, that's fine, I know you, I've seen you around, you've come in and voted under this name for a long time, the state got the name changed." And the next election she came in and she said, "In the book with my new name," and she voted very proudly under her new name and I read it out loud for everybody. So that was another example. Do you guys have any more discretion topics that I missed?
Eric Behrens: People who aren't in the book, that's not really a discretion topic.
Ben Berger: But I was just gonna say, I think theoretically, I've looked back in some of the election code, theoretically, the structure of these certain two inspectors and then the judge ... the inspectors are really supposed to be the people who qualify the electors. That's the theory, it's not necessarily how it's practiced. But because they're from different parties, they're supposed to act as a, theoretically, they're from different parties. They're supposed to act as having check and balance on each other. And so, if there's a disagreement between the two inspectors about whether this person is qualified to vote, the judge becomes the tie breaker. And that's actually how I run it, I try not to get involved in a qualification unless they're really stuck, they just don't know what to do with them, I come over and sort of, sometimes pull that person aside, have them figure out what's going on so that we can keep moving through voting. Just, ultimately, that is part of discretion, is trying to figure out how to keep everybody able to vote and not tying people up needlessly with a lot of administrative excess.
Eric Behrens: Should I go now?
Susan Smythe: Go.
Eric Behrens: So my topic for today was to talk about the part that I think a lot of people are wondering about, care about, which is questions about how votes can be lost in the polling place. Now, I want to kind of stipulate that I'm here to talk about the part that I can see when people are at the polling place itself. I can't talk about voting roles and people's registration and things like that, cause that happens with an election board in our county ... sorry, not election board, election bureau. But there are ways that your vote might not be counted.
I want to also say they're usually pretty rare. I mean, these are not everyday occurrences. We may each have a story of the one time, that one election, this happened, but it is possible for voters to raise a challenge, for voters who are in polling place at the time or for watchers to say that person is not who they say they are, and then we may have to try to adjudicate that. Oftentimes it can be clarified without any kind of official process, but that does happen.
There is a very explicit challenging process, though, for absentee ballots. So the way absentee ballots are counted is, when you go to the polling place, somewhere in that area, there's supposed to be a list of every absent person who submitted an absentee ballot. It's actually a matter of public record, who submitted an absentee ballot. They'll look at that list. At the end of the day, when we close the polls, we begin to do the count on the absentee ballots. We slice open the envelope ... first we verify all of the ballots and if there are any questions, at that point, before we even open it up or start counting them, people can officially challenge. This-
I know I have a story where this has happened at least in one election. You've had this happen, right? It is sometimes in what's expected to be a close election. Oftentimes it's a local or municipal election. The case where the party will send a representative and they will begin to challenge absentee ballots. That doesn't mean the ballot is not going to be counted for sure. It does mean that it could be thrown in a hopper and only counted later on after it's been reviewed ... be brought before a judge [inaudible 00:24:00].
But it is kind of a, one of the more, I think, dubious aspects of our election code, that someone could come in and just simply- they have to give a reason, but the reason could just be "I don't think that's the right signature," or "that person was actually technically ... It's not voting by mail, you're only supposed to vote if you weren't in town. Personally, plainly, I think they're in town." We just write it, they have to pay 10 dollars to issue a challenge. So if they want to take out 15 ballots, they have to give us $150, we put it in an envelope, send it over to the county, and it's [inaudible 00:24:39].
We never know whether that ballot got counted or not, and I don't know that as a voter, it's possible to find out. Maybe months later, you can call, find out, but I'm not positive.
Ben Berger: The ballot may not be counted, the money definitely is. Money is, though. And it is theoretically there to keep people from doing a lot of- just challenging everything, right? But we have both experienced cases where, and I know stories of both parties engaging in this activity. We've already hinted at the, either mistakes or maybe excessive enforcement of rules by the board. So, every board is different, we are volunteers, so people are more experienced, less experienced, some people have more [inaudible 00:25:37] about strict adherence to the guidelines.
We all know what the rules are and we are all pretty straight arrows in trying to follow the rules, but there's a, one thing that happens, voter IDs. In the state of Pennsylvania, they tried to pass a law, the law was struck down in court, so there is no law that says you have to show voter ID when you're at the polls. There is a law that predates that, which says that you do have to show an ID in some form when you show up at the polls the first time in that district. So if it's your first time voting in that district, you do have to present it. I have some of my own board make mistakes when I wasn't at the table, telling people the wrong rules about those IDs. They don't have photo IDs, they don't have to be state-issued, government-issued. They could be of utility. Just something that verifies your name, your address, and that you're that person. So if you have an overzealous or somebody just misinterpreting rules, you could theoretically turn away a voter who's otherwise qualified to vote. So it is always a good thing for people to know the rules.
I don't run into too many cases where there is a voter who really believes that they were registered and they don't show up somehow, somewhere. So even if they're not in my book, if I call the town in the middle of an election, I can usually find out the story about why that person is not in my book. It's usually because they're registered somewhere else. But if there's somebody you've [inaudible 00:27:06] struck from the voter rolls after they haven't voted for a long time, they do that in Delaware County, the good news is that they're entered in the book as being an inactive voter and they're not just taking their name out of the book. So we get affidavits that people have to sign, they just sign their name and check the box and say, "I still reside at the same address and I intend to vote." Beside their name. But there is theoretically a point in which a person has been inactive for so long, they could fall off the rolls.
Speaker 6: And you have to show ID, your proof of residence, at that point too?
Susan Smythe: No.
Ben Berger: No, interestingly, you don't.
Susan Smythe: You don't.
Ben Berger: And we get a lot, I had a lot of those this time. It was interesting.
Eric Behrens: And how did the county ask you to address it?
Ben Berger: Just the affidavit.
Eric Behrens: They let them proceed to regular ballot?
Eric Jensen: The other thing that happens, and you've heard about provisional ballots? I don't know if anybody here has ever had to vote with a provisional ballot, but this was introduced in the law, I think, after 2000 election. Where, if for some reason, you're told you cannot go to the polling place and you're certain you wish to challenge that, I as a judge can offer you the provisional ballot, which allows you to fill out the ballot, it goes in a sealed envelope, you don't pay anything, but you do get the receipt. That's a receipt that just says that you submitted this and with a phone number you can call later on, like two weeks after the election or 10 days after the election and find out whether your provisional ballot counted. It's at the discretion of people at the county, whether they choose to count it or not. So we put this, kind of a black box to us. We don't really know what the likelihood is of that ballot being accepted.
Eric Behrens: The person is supposed to be registered to vote at that place in order for-
Eric Jensen: If they were registered to vote at that place-
Susan Smythe: Then they'd be voting. If they were registered in our books, then they'd be voting, so this is for people who are not in our books but they say, "But I've lived here for 50 years and I've always voted here." Or they say, "I moved here and I filled this out and I can't go back to Georgia to vote today, and I swear I filled the thing out and I-"
Eric Jensen: Here's a real life example where I'd use a provisional ballot. We had a voter who committed a crime this spring. The person was sure they were registered for one of the political parties. But in our books, they were listed as being an Independent. "No, I voted in that election, I voted in that primary." And I truly believed her. She was passionate, she was knowledgeable, she knew what she was talking about. I called up, as we're supposed to do, I called up the county election bureau, I said, "I need the history on this voter to find out." They said, "Oh yeah, they were registered in that party at that time. But then in 2010, they changed back to an Independent." And I asked, "Do you remember resubmitting your form or voting as an Independent?" She said "No." And I said, "Okay."
And on a hunch, I said, "Look at your driver's license, and figure out when you last went with your driver's license." It is a known fact that prior to 2010, there was a period of time when people were using motor voter registration. They would go to Philly, get their new driver's license. They'd go to the little computer screen, and they would ask you, do you want to register to vote? A lot of people did that even though they didn't need to re-register. Once you're registered, you stay registered. But a lot of people just did it, fearing maybe they need to re-register. And at that time, there was a period where those registering got re-registered and it just re-registered everybody automatically. It did not disenfranchise them automatically from the general election, but it kept them out of the primaries. So the county would not back down, cause they had an official record, although in the conversation, one of them did acknowledge it as a known defect. So I had a person go provisional, I filled out the affidavit.
The only other thing I want to say is that user error is actually risk, the biggest risk, probably. So classic thing that we call "fleeing the voter scenario" is people fill out a ballot and they forget to press the green button. They're already at the door, theoretically, we're not supposed to touch those machines. They're only supposed to touch the machine. We can give them the interpretation that now, a person on our board can kind of, without looking-
Susan Smythe: Two people together, the minority inspector and the judge. And both reach down.
Eric Jensen: Reach down there and press that button. We have people, I'm certain, because of the number of undercounts we see, who think that they're pressing the right button on those machines and probably not and so their votes are not being registered. There are people who incorrectly do write-in ballots and don't write in the little window-
Ben Berger: They actually write on the machine?
Eric Jensen: And then we have to call the county together, have them come out and clean it because if you use the wrong cleaner, you can basically ruin the machine.
Susan Smythe: $40,000 down the drain.
Eric Jensen: So user error of that type is in fact-
Eric Behrens: Children, small children.
Susan Smythe: Oh, small children. We warn the parents, because it's right at toddler height, it's a big green button. And if they selected one voter, that's it, they're done. "Wait, I wasn't done!"
Eric Jensen: I actually ask every single parent in our [inaudible 00:32:49] to keep the children to the left. [crosstalk 00:32:53] And then the final thing I wanted to mention, and this isn't really, if you're determined to vote and you get in and you're registered to vote and you go use the machine, all is good.
The one issue I did wanna mention about the space, though, is the question of voter information and not being able to know if, in all precincts, what percentage of people don't ... avoid the polls or turn back because of actual acts of voter intimidation. I'm now at a very friendly bipartisan polling place. Everybody comes out Election Day, it's like a town picnic. The previous place where I was, same house but I used to be in a different district, has had a history of people lining up outside the doors and they were all of one party and they had people in uniforms, law enforcement officers and a bunch of the community people, and Sue said they formed this gigantic fall that you had to walk through. Very crowded out. And I know a lot of people just said, "Oh, I hate to go through. I hate ..." they didn't actually turn anybody away, but boy, was that intimidating. Big line of 12 men sort of standing there, just staring at you when you came in.
And technically, they were within the law, because the law of Pennsylvania does not really protect voters from that kind of ... 10 feet away from the door. I have to see an instance of them actually obstructing it, I would speak up, even- I would use the bully pole, and just say, "Come on, guys. You need to give voters more space. You need to let them enter here freely." If they-
Eric Behrens: That's one of the things a watcher can do. Protest against-
Ben Berger: And the reason why a lot of them are so intimidating is, what you're afraid to is, these are areas that are heavily one party or the other. In this case, it was a huge number of Republicans in Delaware County. And they're local precincts, so people know each other, so those who- when I worked as a co-watcher, one place I was a Democratic co-watcher, and I would first, they're sort of hostile to me, and they thought I was a friendly guy, I was talking about credentials with them, and they became friendly, and then they would point up and say, "Oh, dear, I think that one is Democrat." Because one in every 10 were Democrats. And when one was coming up the walk, they knew the person, they- "Why don't you give your literature to that person?" They knew everyone, they knew who was who. So therefore, it's intimidating for people to walk through, cause they know there'll be the other party and these are people of this party.