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Washington: Federal Judge Strikes Down Restrictive Registration Rules PDF  | Print |  Email
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA   
August 02, 2006

Download the Decision Here 


A federal district judge in Seattle today blocked enforcement of a Washington state law enacted earlier this year that would have kept eligible voters off the registration rolls because of typos and minor errors. The case, brought on behalf of a coalition of voting rights groups by the Brennan Center for Justice, is the first decision to hold that any state's database matching violates the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). It could have far-reaching consequences as it could be used in other states as an avenue for challenging restrictive registration rules or other barriers to voting.

The case, Washington Association of Churches, et al. v. Reed (case no. C06-0726RSM), focused on a “no match, no vote” provision that took effect on Jan. 1, 2006. This law (RCW 29A.08.107) directed Secretary of State Sam Reed to compare driver's licenses, state identification cards or Social Security numbers on registration forms with records from state and federal agencies to ensure that a voters' information matches. The state enacted the law in response to HAVA, which requires states to keep accurate voter lists by matching names and driver's license or Social Security numbers with those in existing databases. But under the act, the right to vote does not hinge on such a match.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez’s opinion concerning the effect of the "match" requirement explained that “the Court does not consider a person’s right to vote a mere ‘detail’ to be so easily dismissed.”  The judge also ruled that the state law was in violation of a provision of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from denying the vote based on an "error or omission on any record or paper" relating to registration. After noting the closeness of Washington’s 2004 governor’s race, Judge Martinez stated that “the public interest weighs strongly in favor of letting every eligible resident of Washington register and cast a vote.”

Advocates File Voting Rights Lawsuit in Washington Challenging Database "Matching" Requirements PDF  | Print |  Email
By Project Vote   
May 26, 2006

Washington Breaks From National Standards For Voter Registration


Download the Complaint (PDF) 


Project Vote's continuing work to eliminate barriers to voter registration took another step forward when community organizations and advocates filed suit today challenging a 4-month old Washington law that improperly implements the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

The lawsuit, the product of an on-going collaboration between Project Vote and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, takes aim at a law, RCW 29A.08.107 which requires the Secretary of State to match identifying information on a voter registration application--usually a drivers' license number, state ID card number, or Social Security number--to the corresponding government database. If a match cannot be made, and an applicant doesn't correct the situation within 45 days, the applicant is not registered.

Matching records between two large databases is an inherently flawed operation for a number of reasons, including:

* human error by government election workers, including misspelling of names, omitting or adding letters in a name, and transposing numbers in a Social Security or driver's license ID.
* Asian-Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives with names that are especially prone to multiple English spellings, or flipping of first and last names;
* married women who have taken hyphenated names or their husbands' inconsistent punctuation of names containing apostrophes or hyphens;


* computer errors caused by file corruption from computer viruses; and absence of uniformity in maintaining, storing, and transferring computer data.

Several reliable studies have found database matching error rates of approximately 20-32%.



Washington Voter Files HAVA Complaint PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
April 24, 2006

John Gideon, Executive Director of and Information Manager for VoteTrustUSA (pictured at right) has filed a complaint according to the procedure detailed in Section 402 of the Help America Vote Act. The complaint process and Gideon's complaint are detailed below.


HAVA Complaint Process


Section 402 of the Help America Vote Act requires that every state set-up a complaint process for voter's complaints in regards to any perceived violations of HAVA Title III.

Section 402 states, in part:
(2) Requirements for procedures.--The requirements of this paragraph are as follows:
(A) The procedures shall be uniform and nondiscriminatory.
(B) Under the procedures, any person who believes that there is a violation of any provision of title III (including a violation which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur) may file a complaint.
(C) Any complaint filed under the procedures shall be in writing and notarized, and signed and sworn by the person filing the complaint.
(D) The State may consolidate complaints filed under subparagraph (B).
(E) At the request of the complainant, there shall be a hearing on the record.
(F) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is a violation of any provision of title III, the State shall provide the appropriate remedy.
(G) If, under the procedures, the State determines that there is no violation, the State shall dismiss the complaint and publish the results of the procedures.
(H) NOTE: Deadline; The State shall make a final determination with respect to a complaint prior to the expiration of the 90-day period which begins on the date the complaint is filed, unless the complainant consents to a longer period for making such a determination.
(I) NOTE: Deadline; If the State fails to meet the deadline applicable under subparagraph (H), the complaint shall be resolved within 60 days under alternative dispute resolution procedures established for purposes of this section. NOTE: Records - The record and other materials from any proceedings conducted under the complaint procedures established under this section shall be made available for use under the alternative dispute resolution procedures.
It was with the above in mind that I decided to file a complaint against the Secretary of State of Washington state. In this complaint I allege that they illegally certified the Diebold TSx voting system as it violates Section 301(a)(3) accessibility requirements.
Washington: HB-2532 – A Bill Providing for Election Audits - Dies In House Rules Committee PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
February 20, 2006
Even though 'Action Alerts' were generated to the citizens of Washington by VerifiedVoting.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org and even though citizens all over the state voiced their demand that this legislation be passed, a minority of voices from the Secretary of State's Office and from the county auditor's association were enough to allow this bill to die in the House Rules Committee. In this case, members of the state legislature turned their backs on voters who demanded that every voting machine in the state be audited. In this case, members of the state legislature put a special interest group, the Auditors, ahead of the voters - a little money and time ahead of verified election results.

One can only ask what these legislators will do if they are in a position where optical-scan machines count fewer votes in their races than voters who participated in the election. They will be forced to go to court and hope the court will allow a recount. An audit and hand-recount would have solved the problem. Now, the legislature has cleansed their hands and sent any further action to the courts. It's unfortunate.

VoteTrustUSA would like to pass on its appreciation to the voters of Washington who saw a problem and a solution and who lobbied their legislators to pass this important legislation. State Representative Toby Nixon (R-45) deserves all of the credit for recognizing there is a problem and for sponsoring this legislation. Unfortunately some members of the legislature said they knew there was a problem and said they would help and then they didn't do much. And to the members of the House Rules Committee who let this legislation die: We'll be back next session and work even harder to get this important legislation passed.

Sequoia, Snohomish County, And The Constitutionality of Electronic Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
By Paul Lehto   
February 11, 2006

Alerting the Sentinels of Democracy - Election Fraud Evidence and Litigation in Washington State


The following report is from Paul Lehto (pictured below), an attorney in Everett, Washington. Paul is a complainant in a lawsuit against Snohomish County, WA , of which Everett is the county seat, and Sequoia Voting Systems. The pleadings in the lawsuit can be found here.


The story of my lawsuit against Snohomish County, Washington and Sequoia Voting Systems began on election day, 2004, when I was an attorney volunteer at a polling station that was historically favoring one particular political party. However, in 2004 as I saw the touch screens print out their election results after hours, I was surprised to see the other party win every contested race that could have been won within reason. This led to a series of FOIA or Public Disclosure Act requests, and ultimately to a scientific paper co-authored with Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman. The upshot of the paper is that Snohomish County had a relatively unique setup where optically scanned paper ballots were used side by side with touch screen DREs, but then because of the nation's closest gubernatorial election in history, the paper ballots were subjected to hand recounts to eliminate their counting errors while the DREs were not recounted or recountable. Thus, a natural laboratory situation was set up where side by side differences between paper ballots and touch screen electronic ballots could be compared. 


The paper ballots showed the Democratic candidate winning by 2000 votes, while the touch screens (handling only 32% of the total vote) showed Republican winning by over 8500 votes. The chances of this happening based on voters being randomly assigned to voting technologies, with 68% assigned to paper and 32% to touch screens was far more than one in a trillion. Though statisticians debate exactly how *many* trillions, they all agree on the word "impossible".

To be fair, however, discrepancies like these are routinely written off by pundits, who posit things like "late surges" and better absentee ballot organizing by one party or the other to explain why absentee ballots might differ from polling place ballots. However, this is what I maintain is the "claim to fame" of the study: we excluded all the touch screen machines that malfunctioned so badly that they were pulled out of service with fewer than 30 votes on them. These malfunctions consisted of observed candidate-flipping where a vote pressed as D would show up as R, as well as freezeups.


Knowing that machines are all visually identical and that no voter would know they had chosen a defective machine, we were surprised to find out that (in the closes gubernatorial race in the nation's history and in a Democratic county) the malfuctioning machines had more than 50% more Republican votes than Democratic votes for governor! Put another way, all of the forms of evidence are present: eyewitness evidence (people saw their votes change), statistical evidence, evidence by admission (the county took the machines out of service), circumstantial evidence, and inferential evidence. On top of all of this, statistical distributions of the paper ballots show single-peak bell curves "with some noise" or variation as is expected in natural systems of variation like voting, and this was true for both Republican and Democratic voters. However, with touch screen voting, there is a twin-peaked curve that is significantly smoother than the paper ballot curves for both parties. My co-author, a Ph.D. and professor in mechanical engineering and things like manufacturing process control, concluded that we can say with 100% certainty that some very large force acted upon the touch screen ballots that did not act upon the paper ballots, and that when it acted upon the touch screens, it affected less than all of the precincts, or did not affect all precincts equally. In addition, the smoother curve with touch screens is very consistent with a computer-generated curve, relative to the noisier curve on the paper ballots, as if a computer randomizing function had attempted to "smooth out" the electronic results via a randomizing function of some sort.

None of this was enough for the County to even start an investigation.

Washington Elections Division Ignores Voting Systems Test Failures In Other States PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
February 09, 2006

Lack of Due Diligence, Arrogance, or ???


Most election officials are competent and hard working, and they truly care about the voters in their states and jurisdictions. On a state level they have to make tough decisions on what voting systems will serve their state the best. On the other hand there are some who are incompetent. They don't seem to want to do any more than is absolutely necessary to gather the information to make decisions. They would prefer to just talk to the vendors, naively expecting to get accurate information from those who stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of their systems. If these officials have a chance to check the accuracy of what the vendors say, they ignore that chance and simply believe the vendors.
A good example of this has recently arisen in Washington state. In an article in the Suburban Chicago News, it was reported that the Illinois Board of Elections had denied certification to Hart Intercivic for their eSlate voting system. The article describes the problems with the voting machines as being "complicated," and it  reports one election official as saying the problem involves a glitch in the software that could result in the wrong ballot style being placed in the wrong precinct. This is the same voting system that was just recommended for state certification in Washington.
Knowing that the Hart eSlate had just been recommended for certification in Washington, I sent an email to the Washington Secretary of State's Elections Office to point out the Illinois denial of certification and to ask why this 'bug' had not been discovered during testing by the Washington state.
The response from the state was surprising and revealing

Washington: New Bill Would Close Hole In State Audit PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
January 29, 2006
Last year the Washington state legislature listened to the voters in the state and voted, with only one dissenting vote, to require all Direct Recording Electronic voting machines provide a voter verified paper audit trail. That legislation also included a requirement that the audit trail be used in audits to check the machine count. This session Rep. Toby Nixon, (R-45th District) filed HB-2532, "A Bill Providing For Election Audits". This bill closes the hole that was left by last year's legislation by requiring an audit of the state's optical scan machines.

It is clear that optical-scan machines must be verified as well as DREs. All of the testing that is done does not bar mistakes from happening on election day. An audit will help to detect mistakes so they can be corrected, ensure all ballots are counted in the present election, and give voters more confidence that their votes were counted as cast. In counties that use optical scan counting devices, the county auditor must conduct an audit of the votes counted by the optical scan counting devices used in the county before certification of any election or machine recount.
Why Washington State Should Not Pass SB-6242/HB-2479 Without Amendment PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
January 23, 2006
The following was sent to members of both the Washington State Senate and House Elections Committees to point out to them how the whole voting system certification process in the state of Washington is broken. 84 rules changes on voting systems in one year alone! They are out of control.

By passing the Administrative Procedures Act of 1988, the Washington State Legislature intended, "to clarify the existing law of administrative procedure, to achieve greater consistency with other states and the federal government in administrative procedure, and to provide greater public and legislative access to administrative decision making."  (See RCW 34.05.001.)

I submit that the Secretary of State's use of Administrative Law to administer the voting systems certification program is not consistent with the intent of the legislature. The WACs for voting systems are constantly in flux, so they are unable to provide stable guidance and wise management of the certification process. Instead, the WACs appear to be instituted in an almost capricious fashion dictated by the current state of technology rather than by the Secretary's obligation to promote accurate and reliable elections.

Rather than providing "greater public and legislative access to administrative decision making," this constant flux in Administrative Law obscures the basis of the department's decision-making.
Proprietary Software On Voting Machines? PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, Information Manager, and VoteTrustUSA   
November 05, 2005
This week a panel of three judges in Sarasota County, Florida found that a breathalyzer manufacturer, CMI Inc., must turn over its source code to an expert hired by defendants in drunk driving cases. The expert would only be allowed to inspect the code for bugs and he would be under court orders not to divulge any of the code to the public. The manufacturer of the breathalyzer has refused to allow its source code to be reviewed.

In an article in “News Forge” Bill Scofield, manager of engineering for CMI Inc., the company who makes the subject breathalyzer, is quoted as stating, “It's a trade secret. There is no reason to release the source code because there are other ways to test its effectiveness." However no other means of testing the source code were offered by CMI.
So, if it is important that the source code used in breathalyzers should be made available for inspection by experts, why shouldn’t the same be true for voting machine source code?
Washington: Letter to State Legislators about Diebold's Proprietary Barcode PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, Information Manager, and VoteTrustUSA   
October 29, 2005
This letter was recently sent to some members of the Washington state legislature. It is included here for two reasons. First, it reports a problem that everyone who lives in Diebold DRE counties where a VVPAT printer is necessary. It is also included as an example of the type of letter/email that can be sent to any state legislators. I have sent numerous emails to the Washington state legislature about different voting issues. The mailing list depends upon the subject of the email and whether it is targeted to a committee, county representation or the whole legislature.

Dear Legislator,

As I am sure you are aware, the votes in King County are counted by Diebold optical scanners. Last legislative session you made it clear that the counting of votes should be a transparent process. You did this, in part, by requiring that all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines would have a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). The Office of the Secretary of State will soon be examining a Diebold DRE voting system for certification and use in King County. Last week, I attended a public hearing to discuss proposed Secretary of State agency rules for the handling of the VVPAT ballots during the legislated audits and during required hand recounts.

It is apparent, after talking to Diebold representatives last July and after reviewing and discussing the new agency rules, that Diebold will be providing a proprietary bar code reader to be used for reading the proprietary barcodes on the VVPAT during audits and recounts. The issue is not necessarily that a bar code reader will be used. The issue is that the bar code software will be proprietary and thus a trade secret of Diebold.
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