VoteTrustUSA Newsletter #1. March 6, 2005.
Itās been about two weeks since we announced the formation of a new alliance in support of your non-partisan, state and local election integrity groups.. Thanks to everybody whoās already expressed interest in participating in this alliance. If you havenāt been able to get back to us yet, we hope to hear from you soon. (More on this below.) We have a preliminary page up at http://www.VoteTrustUSA.org and plan to have the full site live and running in the next few weeks, but things are moving fast in the voting integrity world, and we can't wait for a website before we dig in.
New information keeps emerging. Here's some important information your group may find helpful.
OPERATING COST COMPARISON OF DRE v PUNCH CARD v OPTICAL SCAN
You may have read the article in the Herald Tribune. Rosemarie Myerson, a retired psycholinguist now living in Longboat Key, Florida has just finished a study comparing six years of the Sarasota County Election Office's operating costs with six years of the operating costs of the Election Office in Manatee. What she found is powerful.
- Sarasota County's expenses increased an average of about $1.1M per year when the county switched from punch cards to DREs ÷ not counting the capital costs of the DREs.
- Manatee County used optical scanners during the entire six year period and their costs (adjusted to account for less registered voters) increased an average of about $350,000 per year over the same time period.
It's a myth that DREs are less expensive to use ÷ at least in Sarasota County.
Please consider following Ms. Myerson's lead and studying the operational costs in counties in your state. Her report is here, with a link to the article announcing her report. http://www.votersunite.org/info/costcomparison.asp
HAVA REQUIRES ALL VOTING SYSTEMS TO COMPLY WITH THE FEC 2002 ACCURACY STANDARDS
How many of you have paid attention to Section 301(a)(5)? Jerry Depew of Iowa did, and then called it to our attention.
(5) Error rates.--The error rate of the voting system in counting ballots (determined by taking into account only those errors which are attributable to the voting system and not attributable to an act of the voter) shall comply with the error rate standards established under section 3.2.1 of the voting systems standards issued by the Federal Election Commission which are in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.
Section 3.2.1 is in this document: http://sims.berkeley.edu/~jhall/fec_vss_2002_pdf/pdf/v1s3.pdf
The maximum allowable error rate is 1 in 500,000 ballot positions. So, for example, if a machine counts 1000 ballots, with 100 candidates on the ballot, and the machine makes one mistake, its error rate is FIVE times as high as the standard. This HAVA requirement goes into effect in 2006 just like the audit trail and accessibility requirements do.
Ask your state legislators how they can ensure that your state's machines comply unless the state law requires regular audits of the machines -- audits that allow hand counts to be compared to the machine counts.
ALL FEDERAL ELECTION DATA ÷ BALLOTS, AUDITS, EVERYTHING ÷ MUST BE PRESERVED FOR 22 MONTHS AFTER AN ELECTION
Check out this information. Scroll down to 2.2.11. http://www.fec.gov/agenda/agendas2001/mtgdoc01-62/v1/v1s2.htm
The list of federal election data that MUST be retained goes all the way from:
a. Copies of operating procedures, including security measures, established for system preparation, operation and data extraction.
... down to ...
t. All audit trail records.
(Thanks to Linda Franz for finding this great resource.)
VOTE TRUST USA OFFERS A SAMPLE BILL FOR VVPB AND AUDITS
Ellen Theisen and Warren Stewart prepared audit provisions and proposed them to be included in the New Mexico VVPB bill. We have combined this document with what we consider to be solid VVPB language. You can find the text here: http://www.votetrustusa.org/legislation/samplevvpbaudit.htm
COLORADOANS FOR VOTING INTEGRITY REQUEST AUDIT EXPERIENCES
Boulder, Colorado will be doing an audit of the March election, thanks to Neal McBurnett and the CFVI [http://www.countthevotecolorado.org/]. Read the article here: http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/election/article/0,1713,BDC_16316_3590815,00.html
Neal has requested information from anyone who has experience with an audit. He says, "We would love insight into how manual count audits work in other states like CA, KY, WV, ME? and hand counts in WA and OH, etc."
Please contact Neal with any information you may have. Contact the CFVI at http://www.countthevotecolorado.org/index.php?module=MDcontact&func=main Or send an email to email@example.com and we'll pass it on to Neal.
BROWARD COUNTY ACTIVISTS CONDUCT PARALLEL ELECTION PROCESS
Ellen Brodsky writes about the project set for March 8, 2005:
"You are all invited to participate in the first ever "Grass Roots" PARALLEL ELECTION PROJECT! We have selected a few precincts in Coconut Creek that will serve as test sites.
"It is a revolutionary undertaking and weather permitting should be an exciting, informative and most patriotic event! Did you know that there has never been any Statistical Validation that the voting machines are accurately recording your votes against the machine results?
"Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you think you are able to participate. Either the whole day, in shifts or for the counting of the votes as well!"
THREE ELECTION REFORM BILLS IN CONGRESS
People have been asking us about our position on the Ensign, Clinton, and Holt bills. Warren Stewart, of the National Ballot Integrity Project, is Vote Trust USAās Legislative Issues and Policy Director. Heās written a detailed analysis thatās on the Vote Trust USA website at http://www.votetrustusa.org/legislation/BillAnalysis-VIVA-VCIA-CEVA.pdf. Here are highlights:
S.330/H.R.704 ÷ Senator John Ensign's bill, the Voting Integrity and Verification Act of 2005 (VIVA 2005, S.330) and its identical companion bill in the House, H.R.704. Though this bill is limited to merely establishing the requirement for a voter verifiable paper record in Federal elections, it would be an essential first step. With States currently making purchasing decisions in order to use funds appropriated by HAVA that must be spent before 2006, a paper ballot requirement is needed as soon as possible so that the money is not spent on another generation of paperless electronic voting machines. We support this bill, and our remarkable lobbyist, Warren Stewart, has been very effective in gaining bipartisan support for this bill in the Senate. [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.00330:]
H.R.550 ÷ Congressman Rush Holt's revised version, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005. It has stronger audit requirements than the 2004 version, as well as consistently thoughtful and precise language throughout. We believe it is the best of the bills focusing on verification and accuracy. Warren is working on getting a companion introduced in the Senate. [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:h.r.00550:]
S. 450 ÷ Senator Clintonās Count Every Vote Act (CEVA). This bill is a sweeping overhaul of the election process. We anticipate that it will encounter significant opposition and is unlikely to be passed in the current session. Also, the verification language for DREs mandates the purchase of voting system technology that does not yet exist, has the effect of prohibiting certain devices that currently provide verification for disabled voters, and may require some states to abandon paper based voting systems for electronic machines. For these reasons, we do not support this bill. [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.00450:]
JOIN WITH THE NEW VOTE TRUST USA ALLIANCE
The combined skill, courage, and resolve of local and state-based activist groups will largely determine whether we, as a nation, can avert the threat of electronic vote rigging, hacking, accidental loss or misallocation of electronically recorded and reported votes · and the ultimate impact on the integrity of Americaās elections.
Vote Trust USA has been formed by leaders of National Ballot Integrity Project, VotersUnite!, TrueVoteMD, and CASE Ohio. The purpose of the alliance is to dramatically enhance the voting reform debate throughout the country and in Washington, D.C by building a dynamic, responsive, and interactive national framework to effectively support the current and developing needs of existing and emerging non-partisan state and local election integrity organizations. We intend to build a movement that elected officials not only acknowledge but also cannot ignore.
Fifteen additional non-partisan state and local voting integrity organizations have expressed interest in participating in this alliance. If your non-partisan election integrity group has not yet responded, or if you would like help forming one, or if you are an individual working alone in your area, please take a minute to:
- Read our invitation letter (http://www.votetrustusa.org/announcements/invitationletter.htm)
- Complete our questionnaire (http://www.votetrustusa.org/announcements/questionnaire.htm)
- Email the questionnaire and your response to email@example.com.
DAILY VOTING NEWS
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