Long Voter Lines in LA Were Caused By . . . A Tablet

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We have finally figured out why voters had to wait for hours in Los Angeles during the recent election. It had nothing to do with the voting machines, but with the electronic tablets that replaced paper lists of voters for poll workers to check off:

The report concludes that these devices — known as electronic poll books — and not the county’s new $300 million voting machines were the source of those delays…Because Los Angeles County did not have backup paper copies of the voter list, poll workers were not able to check in voters when the devices failed, leading to long lines.

….The delays were caused by some poll books taking hours to sync their voter lists with each other and with the countywide voter registration database, making them unusable during this time, the county’s report says. The devices also had another problem: Poll workers were supposed to be able to look up voters’ records by name and address but were limited to name searches, producing hundreds of false positives in some cases that poll workers had to sift through. The report blames a vendor programming error for this issue.

As someone who used to work closely with software development of database applications, I never know how to feel about reports like this. On the one hand, stuff like this happened to us too, and probably to every other team that’s developed a similar application. On the other hand, we’re talking here about a database with a few million records and a peak rate of maybe 30 or 40 transactions per second. This is . . . not rocket science. Not in 2020, anyway. I wonder what the hell this app was doing as it “synchronized” voter lists?

SIX TRUTHS

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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