VoteTrustUSA Newsletter #2. April 4, 2005.

Itās been a busy month since our last Vote Trust USA newsletter, with VVPB legislation at issue in many of your states. Youāre doing an amazing job. Check out some of your successes below and please let us know if weāve missed anybody.

* New Yorkers For Verified Voting Gets Opscans On The Radar
* Broward County Parallel Election Project In Florida
* A Small, Valuable Project You Could Do!!
* DREs Accessible To The Blind ÷ Really?
* New Mexico Is Close To Voter-Verified Paper Records
* And So Is Washington
* Pennsylvanians Are Working Toward VVPB
* Diebold Scandal Emerges In Maryland
* On The National Front
* VVPR Bill Introduced In Iowa
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NEW YORKERS FOR VERIFIED VOTING GETS OPSCANS ON THE RADAR

Led by Bo Lipari, NYVV's exceedingly difficult and diligent work is bearing fruit in New York. Bo managed to get a demo of an opscan and the AutoMark set up in the capitol building where every legislator passing by could see them and ask questions. The lawmakers, previously only introduced to DREs by the vendors who decided NY was a DRE state, are now thinking and talking about optical scanners.

The marvelous March 9 editorial in the New York Times "Virtues of Optical-Scan Voting" is also the fruit of NYVV. As is the March 9 editorial in the New York Daily News, "Put polling machines to a vote," which refers to DREs as "expensive lemons." See: http://www.votersunite.org/info/affairsofstates.asp for the links.

The direction New York goes affects us all. VoteTrustUSA thanks Bo Lipari and NYVV on behalf of all the citizens of the United States.

If you are in New York, email Bo to sign up to help: bolipari@nyvv.org

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BROWARD COUNTY PARALLEL ELECTION PROJECT IN FLORIDA

Ellen Brodsky organized the first-ever Parallel Election Project in Broward County on March 8, 2004. Outside the official voting location, her group set up a table with paper ballots and a hand out explaining that this was an unofficial, parallel election.

The project was a complete success, and she even discovered the reasons for the high rate of undervotes in the election. Many of the DREs didn't display the Commissioner's race at all, and those that did displayed the candidates in a smaller font than the Gambling Amendment choices.

Read a fascinating report here: http://www.ecotalk.org/FirstParallelElection.htm

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A SMALL, VALUABLE PROJECT YOU COULD DO!!

In the last newsletter, we told you about the cost comparison in which Rosemarie Myerson showed that operating DREs in Sarasota County for three years was much more expensive than operating opscans in Manatee County for three years. See http://www.votersunite.org/info/costcomparison.asp

Replicating her work in other counties would be a very valuable project ÷ especially now when counties are deciding how to comply with HAVA and facing budget realities.

Please consider doing this study for at least one county. Check here for guidelines from Rosemarie. http://www.votersunite.org/info/costcomparisonguidelines.asp. Contact her if you need more help. She's eager to have others do additional studies.

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DREs ACCESSIBLE TO THE BLIND ÷ REALLY?

Read reviews of Sequoia's and Avante's "accessibility" features, written by Noel Runyan, a blind voter who is also an expert on constructing accessible systems. http://www.votersunite.org/info/accessibility.asp

Excerpt from the Sequoia review:
"The first major problem I had was that the ballot on the machine was not in the same order as the printed sample ballot. When my wife pointed this out to the chief poll worker, they were surprised to see the difference, and said maybe that would explain why they found that it was taking voters longer than expected to vote."

Excerpt from the Avante review:
"Unfortunately, the Avante DRE uses a synthetic TTS (Text To Speech) system, the IBM Via Voice, that is difficult for most older folks to understand. Use of the poor quality synthetic voice was the primary reason that the Avante scored at the bottom in AFB's Access World review."

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NEW MEXICO IS CLOSE TO VOTER-VERIFIED PAPER RECORDS

SB678, a "voter-verified and auditable paper record" bill, has passed both houses and is ready to be signed by the Governor.

If you are in New Mexico, call the Governor's office (505-476-2200) and urge him to sign SB678. His office is tracking the calls for and against. He must sign by April 8. For the history and links to the versions, see http://legis.state.nm.us/lcs/_session.asp?chamber=S&type=++&number=678&year=05

Congratulations to United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico for their dogged determination and excellent coordination of effort in getting this bill successfully passed through the legislature!!

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AND SO IS WASHINGTON

ESSB 5395, a "voter-verified paper record" bill that requires 4% audits of the papers produced by DREs was passed out of the House committee last Friday, the last day possible until next session. It is not significantly different from the version passed by the State Senate, so we are hoping it remains unchanged as it makes its way to the Governor's desk. For a history and links, see: http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/billinfo1/dspBillSummary.cfm?billnumber=5395

If you are in Washington, contact the Rules Committee members and urge them to expedite the movement of this bill to the House floor for a vote ÷ where we expect it to pass.

Congratulations to voting activists from Citizens for Voting Integrity-Washington, Whatcom Fair Voting, and VotersUnite for their successful work with the legislators on this bill!!

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PENNSYLVANIANS ARE WORKING TOWARD VVPB

The Pennsylvania Election Reform Task Force hearing met last Thursday, and six voting activists attended and spoke in favor of voter-verified paper ballots. Here's a brief (edited) report from Marybeth Kuznik of www.votePA.us.

"One man on the Task Force seemed to believe that paperless machines aren't much of a problem, but the others seemed fairly open-minded. We tried to hit them very hard for Voter-Verified Paper BALLOTS. They were all saying "trail" at the beginning of the hearing but by the end most of them at least were using the word ballot!

"The PA Secretary of State, Pedro A. CortŽs, seems genuinely concerned about these issues. He did extend the meeting time for an extra hour beyond the original schedule, and he increased the Public Comment period from 15 minutes scheduled to 45 minutes. He was also very gracious to those of us who spoke and met with us informally for 5 or 10 minutes after the meeting.

"He knew quite a few details about various voting systems (especially some of the newer and less well-known systems) which indicates to me that he has personally looked into them. So even though the Pennyslvania Secretary Of State's Office has that "weird" interpretation of current Pennsylvania law in our Amended HAVA Plan (that DREs which produce paper might not be permitted under our current "statutory scheme"), I think this gentleman will at least give everything consideration and a fair hearing.

"On the minus side, we saw that there is a lot of concern about requiring VVPBs from the advocacy groups for people with disabilities. From their testimony and comments they made outside the meeting, I do think they tend to see DREs as an answer to their issue. As advocates for verified voting methods I think we need to find possible alternatives which will fill both groups' needs such as ballot-marking devices for Optical Scan systems. (Although I can't imagine that these groups do not know about such accommodations already?)

"Mythbreakers was mentioned a lot in the conversations I had with the various people outside the meeting. The Common Cause folks had seen it, and several of the speakers told me they have (or will be) giving it to their County Election Director. I told them to let VotersUnite know when they do that (and to follow up and make sure the Election Director reads it!)"

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DIEBOLD SCANDAL EMERGES IN MARYLAND

From TrueVoteMD's March 8 Press Release:

According to county election officials and other sources, all Maryland voting machines have been on "lockdown" since November 2, 2004 due to statewide machine failures including 12% of machines in Montgomery County, some of which appear to have lost votes in significant numbers. The State Board of Elections convinced the media that Election Day went smoothly, when in fact there were serious statewide, systemic problems with the Diebold electronic voting machines -- so serious that the SBE and Diebold still have not figured out how to prevent the loss of votes in the future.

"Election Day was anything but smooth. Votes were lost, computer cards storing votes were unreadable, thousands of error messages were reported, machines froze in mid-voting and machines refused to boot up. The problems with the machines were so widespread and serious that efforts to hide the problems have failed," said Linda Schade, director of TrueVoteMD.org.

Read the press release at http://www.truevotemd.org/Press_releases/html/2005-03-08_Press_Release.html

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ON THE NATIONAL FRONT

Representative Rush Holt is circulating a Dear Colleague letter for his HR550 which mandates a voter-verified paper record. It featured a report citing a 12% machine failure rate in one Maryland county and used strong language to support its message. "If we do not pass this legislation, we may as well outlaw recounts in federal elections." It attracted 6 signatures within days.

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VVPR BILL INTRODUCED IN IOWA

On March 9, Iowa State Senators Mark Zieman and Jack Kibbie introduced SF 327, which would require all DREs to produce a human-readable, voter-verified paper record separate from all other paper records. On March 24, the bill was unanimously passed by the Senate. It is now in a House State Government subcommittee.

To read the bill go here and select SF351 (formerly SF327): http://www.legis.state.ia.us/aspx/Cool-ICE/DisplayBills.htm

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~ Vote Trust USA team

**Communication Makes Us All Stronger**
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