Election Integrity News - January 30, 2006
This Week's Quote: "If people don't trust the system, they won't vote." Connie Schmidt, former election commissioner, Johnson County, Kansas
In this issue ...
News From Around the StatesOhio: HB 3 Would Make It Harder to Vote, Harder to Ensure Accuracy, Harder to Recount
National Coalition for Election Integrity
This week VoteTrustUSA is launching citizen actions in support of election integrity legislation in New Mexico and Washington State. Across the country, elected officials are beginning to respond to constituents who want safeguards to ensure the accuracy and security of their elections. More than half the states now require a voter verified paper record of every vote. Half of those will conduct random mandatory audits to verifiy the accuracy of electronic vote totals. We've made progress, but there's along way to go.
Support VoteTrustUSA as we fight for transparent and accurate elections! For the past year, VoteTrustUSA has been supporting state and local election activists and keeping concerned citizens across the country informed of developments in voting news. To find out more about our how VoteTrustUSA is working for fair and verifiable elections click here. VoteTrustUSA depends on your donations to further the cause of Election Integrity. We are100% citizen-supported and your contributions are entirely tax-deductible. To make a donation, please click here. Thank you for your support!
Fitzpatrick To Introduce
Bi-Partisan Bill To Delay HAVA Deadlines Until November
Holt, Patterson, and Schwartz Join In Bi-Partisan Introduction
Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) has announced his intention to introduce legislation
that would adjust the deadlines of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Currently
states are required to meet numerous requirements for voting system upgrades
and statewide voter registration databases in time for the "first election for
Federal office held after January 1, 2006". Fitzpatrick's bill would amend
the HAVA to push the deadlne back until "the regularly scheduled general election
for Federal office held in November, 2006".
Representatives John Patterson (R-PA, Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) will join Fitzpatrick as original co-sponsors. At a joint press conference with representatives of the Coalition for Voter Integrity, Rep. Fitzpatrick said that the legislation would protect local governments who act in good faith to follow the letter of the law in updating their voting machines, but are unable to meet the deadline before primary election this Spring from possible penalties.
In his press release, Fitzpatrick stressed that "The Help America Vote Act was written to strengthen our election process and bring it up to date nation-wide - an important and necessary endeavor. However, elections are the domain of the states and local governments and this Act has trampled over their rights. The Act is pressuring counties … to adopt untested equipment in an unreasonable timetable. Something must be done to give more time to local communities to make such an important decision and respect their rights at the same time.”
A delay in the deadlines would relieve pressure on counties in many states, notably New York, which has been threatened with a lawsuit by the Department of Justice, Connecticut, where state officials recently re-opened their voting system procurement process after cancelling their contract with Danaher Corporation, and Fitzpatrick's home state of Pennsylvania, where many counties have yet to make decisions about voting systems.
|"Hacking" and the Paper Ballot-Optical Scan Voting System
by Wanda Warren Berry, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - January 23, 2006
This article is posted at New
Yorkers for Verified Voting. It is reposted here with permission of the
Some alarm has been expressed at learning that the recent test in Florida that disproved the Diebold claim that its machines could not be hacked was carried out on an optical scanner (Diebold's Accu-Vote OS 1.94w). New Yorkers for Verified Voting (NYVV) again has been asked to justify its support for the paper ballot-optical scan system (PBOS). NYVV has never denied that optical scanners are computers and that they are subject to accidental or deliberate miscoding and hacking. NYVV has argued that the hand-marked paper-ballots that are the foundation of the PBOS system provide security to elections because the scanners can be checked by hand-counting the paper.
Let's be very clear that the PBOS system is far superior to direct recording electronic voting machines (DREs) in spite of our knowledge that scanners can be hacked. Keep in mind that scanners only count votes; therefore they provide many fewer opportunities for miscoding and/or hacking than do DREs, which must be programmed for recording, verifying, and counting votes as well as for accessibility. Note that the programming of the scanners for the one task of counting can be transparently tested by running a test deck of ballots that have been publicly hand-counted as many times as are necessary to convince the observers that the scanner is correctly programmed. After an election, the original hand-marked paper ballots are the official record and are available for manual recounts whenever law or circumstance requires it.
An observer of the famous "Harri Hursti hack" in Florida has pointed out that that test revealed only one vulnerability in an almost unlimited number of potential flaws" that computer scientists recognize to be characteristic of electronic voting systems (both optical scanners and DREs). Revelation of this flaw was important because it exposed a vulnerability that must have been purposefully programmed into the system. Most significantly, the observer’s report goes on to correctly argue that "the Hursti hack shows, above all, the importance of having paper ballots." The Hursti hack demonstrates that "there must be an independent paper trail that can be manually audited to confirm (or discredit) machine results." Read the Entire Article
From Around the States
State Claims Diebold Data is Proprietary
The State Division of Elections has denied access to public records that are needed to verify the accuracy of the 2004 General Election vote results, the Alaska Democratic Party (ADP) said today.
The Division of Elections claims that its electronic computer file that contains all the final vote tallies for the 2004 General Election is proprietary information belonging to its contractor, Diebold Election Systems.
"It is wrong that the State of Alaska is letting Diebold take possession of our votes and our public data by claiming that these are their proprietary information. This is not acceptable or legally supportable," said state Democratic Party chair Jake Metcalfe.
Although Diebold claims that their data structure is proprietary, it is publicly available on the Internet today and has been for several years. The GEMS software and data files are publicly available and can be viewed online.
Numerous discrepancies are apparent in the 2004 General Election votes tallied by the state's Diebold computer system and posted on the Division of Election's web site. According to the posted “Statement of Votes Cast” by district and precinct, a far larger number of votes were cast than the official totals reported in the statewide summary. In many of the House Districts, more votes are shown in the totals than there are voters in the district. In the case of President George Bush’s votes, the district-by-district totals add up to 292,267, but his official total was only 190,889, a difference of 101,378 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Lisa Murkowski received 226,992 votes in the district-by-district totals, but her official total was only 149,446, a difference of 77,546 votes.
California: Attorney General
Sues Two Counties For Inaccessible Polling Places
Attorney General Lockyer Files Suit To Ensure That The Disabled In
Kern and Santa Cruz Counties Have Access To Polling Places And Can Exercise
Right To Vote
Lawsuits Filed After Pervasive Violations Found Over The Course Of Four Elections
General Bill Lockyer (photo at left) has filed lawsuits against Kern
Cruz counties in state court which seek to compel the counties to comply
with state and federal laws protecting the right of voters with disabilities
to access polling places. The lawsuits stem from lengthy investigations which
found nearly three out of every four Santa Cruz polling places surveyed had
at least one barrier that could make disabled access especially difficult, hazardous
or even impossible; and that more than nine out of 10 polling sites surveyed
in Kern had an accessibility violation.
"The right to vote is the key to our democracy and it is my legal duty to protect this fundamental right for all Californians," Lockyer said. "Extensive surveys conducted over the course of four separate elections revealed that barriers impeding or blocking disabled access to Santa Cruz and Kern county polls were pervasive and are unlikely to be fully corrected without strong action. I hope these lawsuits will help ensure that all California voters, including the disabled, are able to freely and equally exercise their right to vote."
The two lawsuits allege that by failing to ensure that the polling sites they select satisfy applicable disabled access standards, local election authorities have violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state elections law. Specifically, the ADA requires that polling sites be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities on election day. Under California law, local elections officials are authorized to select polling places of their own choosing, so long as they comply with standards issued by the Secretary of State which require that they be accessible to the disabled. Read the Press Release
Is the public fully behind your efforts for verified voting?
County wide petition drives can get people motivated and change the law. If you are in a home rule charter county, you may be able to put a referendum on the November, 2006 ballot to require voter verified paper ballots and mandatory random independent audits of election results. You must start soon. This action can amend your county charter by a vote of the people. Petition drives can energize the public, wake up our elected leaders, and give the force of law to our requirement for paper ballots and mandatory audits.
Sarasota County, Florida has launched just such a petition drive after crafting its petition over the past six months. (See Sarasota Petition) It is attached herewith. It defines voter verified paper ballots as the official record in all elections, and requires an audit of 5% of the precincts and 5% of all ballots cast in Early Voting, Absentee ballots, and Military and Overseas (UOCAVA) ballots. It mandates use of optical scanners and paper ballots, or hand counted paper ballots, as opposed to the paperless touchscreen direct record electronic (DRE) voting machines we have now in Sarasota County. It is unlikely our County would use hand counted paper ballots, but the precedent has been set for precinct based optical scanners in 52 out of 67 Florida counties and for central office optical scanners for absentee ballots in all 67 counties.
Key arguments for optical scanners are that they
1)are used now in 52 out of 67 counties in Florida
2) are 40% cheaper to operate year over year than DREs (see the Myerson report)
3) utilize the voter verified paper ballot needed to ensure voter confidence in election results Read The Entire Article
Georgia: Concerned Voters
Call For State To Fix Voting System
Voters Want A Test Election To Prove Flaws
In Atlanta today, voters concerned about the integrity of Georgia's elections marched the capitol and demanded that the state's chief election official, Secretary of State Cathy Cox, back her words on paper trails with immediate action. At the same time, they asked for an opportunity to prove the vulnerability of the system and show how the machines themselves were illegal, contradicted federal standards and are easy to corrupt.
"Voting is one of our single most important rights∑Recent events in Florida have shown how vulnerable Georgia is to election tampering. In the past, these charges have been dismissed, but there is now even more compelling evidence that Georgia is ignoring. We write to you today to respectfully request that you address these very important issues immediately," the group, led by Roxanne Jekot, said in a letter of request to the democratic gubernatorial candidate who runs the office that manages elections.
In a recent mock election in Leon County, Florida, a hacker showed how easy it was to alter the results produced from the Diebold machines. Georgia uses the same machines that were tested in Florida to count absentee ballots and it uses DREs (touchscreens) for the rest of its ballots. Read the Entire Article
Maryland house Delegate Sheila
E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee,
has introduced HB
244, a bill that would require all votings systems used in the state to
produce or require the use of a voter verified paper record. The bill also calls
for hand counted audits of a percentage of the votes by each election board
in the state. The bill has been schedule for next Wednesday.
"Under this legislation, voters would be able to check and correct any error made by the voting system," said Del. Hixson (photo at left), was quoted in the Washington Post. "We must pass this bill so the trust and confidence of voters who are concerned about our new system can be restored." The bill is supported by House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and several other leading House Democrats. A Senate companion bill is expected next week.
State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone, an ardent proponent of paperless voting in the past, has begun to question the the vulnerability of the state's Diebold touchscreen machines. Lamone wrote to Diebold's top executive on December 23 after California's Secretary of State declared that some of that state's voting machines were susceptible to error and would not be certified for use. Read the Entire Article
New Mexico: Not Paper Trail,
Not Paper Record - Paper Ballot!
Two weeks ago, Governor Bill Richardson, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and State Election Director Ernest Marquez held a press conference to call on the legislature to establish a statewide paper ballot optical scan voting system. At the conference Richardson explained that his plan "makes the most sense and resolves many of the problems that have plagued New Mexico elections for far too long."
State Senator Linda Lopez (photo at left), chair of the Senate Rules Committe and co-chair of the Election Reform Task Force has obliged with SB295. An identical bill, HB 430,has been introduced in the State House by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia (D-Las Cruces, photo at right). Both bills would amend the existing law to read "[a]ll voting systems used in elections covered by the Election Code shall use a paper ballot on which the voter physically or electronically marks the voter's choices on the ballot itself."
That's right - not paper trail, not paper record, but paper ballot! Andy Stephenson would be so proud! (See "What Is A Ballot?")
And it gets better. The bill goes on to establish that "[t]he paper ballot shall be used … to check either the veracity of a machine count or the count itself and shall be used in a recount proceeding as are absentee ballots, and in case of a discrepancy, the paper ballot shall be considered the true and correct record of the voter's choices."
The bill includes an emergency clause: "It is necessary for the public peace, health and safety that this act take effect immediately." Truer words were never written about the urgency of verifiable elections! Read the Entire Article
United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico, together with VoteTrustUSA have launched a Citizen Action in support of Paper Ballots in New Mexico. Please click here to send a message to your New Mexico Legislators in support of HB 430 and SB 295!
Letter to New York State
Board of Elections
The following Letter from Larry Rockefeller was delivered to the New York
state board of Elections on January 23, 2006. (Exhibits are not included)
In addition to providing scrupulous documentation of the functional and legal
inadvisability of haphazardly implementing inadequate standards for the certification
of voting equipment in New York, Mr. Rockefeller's letter provides a wealth
of assistance for advocates and attorneys in the many other states now struggling
in their efforts to implement HAVA requirements.
To the New York State Board of Elections:
Please accept the following comments on the voting systems standards ("the regulations") that the New York State Board of Elections has proposed to, among other things, comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 U.S.C. § 15481 et seq. (HAVA), and the related enabling legislation enacted by New York, the Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005.
I am a New York State voter with a long-standing interest in voting rights. I submit these comments because the regulations, if adopted, will unconstitutionally and illegally impair New Yorkers' fundamental right to vote.
First, the regulations place our State at substantial risk of electoral fraud. That is because the regulations implement new electronic voting systems for use in New York without adequate safeguards. These new technologies are rife with vulnerabilities and have presented serious security problems in past elections, as documented below. If these technologies are not properly regulated, a single ill-intentioned insider has the power to change the outcome of an election without being detected. These profound security problems have been recognized by respected authorities, including in reports by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO); by the bi-partisan Carter-Baker Commission; and by the nation's leading computer security experts who, funded by the National Science Foundation, formed ACCURATE. Read the Entire Letter
North Carolina: Is The Public Confidence In Elections Law Safe Now?
North Carolina State Board of Elections Throws Counties A $3 Million
Bone - Activists Wonder If The County Commissioners Have Been Appeased
On January 26, the North Carolina State Board of Elections approved a plan to spend an extra $3 million of the state's Help America Vote Act Allocation for voting equipment upgrades. The Board also agreed to test equipment for all 100 N.C. counties, saving the counties an estimated $2.4 million. This amounts to the State Board throwing a multi-million bone to the The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) - this in addition to state grants already given last year. The NCACC had been asking for delay, changes or repeal of the Public Confidence In Elections Act (S. 223) that was passed and signed last summer. They also complained of needing an additional $20 Million that was cut from the legislation. It remains to be seen if the assault on S. 223 is over.
The NCACC had succeeded in convincing many counties that the law was an unfunded mandate and was to too restrictive. Meanwhile, activists were trying to counter the NCACC rhetoric and convince their counties to purchase optical scan voting systems. Buncombe County thought they would be joining a coalition of counties that could force the legislators to revist, revise and rough up S. 223, along with the big push by the NCACC to all counties. Read the Entire Article
Ohio: HB 3 Would Make It
Harder to Vote, Harder to Ensure Accuracy, Harder to Recount
After being stalled in December, HB3 is back at the top of legislative agenda
in Ohio. The bill is called an "election reform" by some. CASE
Ohio calls it "election regression". The worst features of HB
3 are still contained in the recent version and include restrictive ID requirements
(Sec. 3505.18), the deletion of the recount as machine audit (Sec. 3506.20),
the establishment of unaffordable recount cost (Sec. 3515.03), and the prohibition
of election contests (Sec. 3515.08).
First, the most recent version of the bill includes the now infamous ID requirement:
Sec. 3505.18. (A)(1) When an elector appears in a polling place to vote the elector shall announce to the precinct election officials the elector's full name and current address and provide proof of the elector's identity in the form of either a current and valid photo identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and current address of the elector.While most Ohio voters will have a photo ID or other identifying documents, many, many do not, especially the young, old, poor, homeless, out-of-town college students, and others. HB 3 will effectively disenfranchise as many as 200,000 legally eligible voters. Read the Entire Article
Op-Ed/Zogby Poll: Pennsylvanians Want Voter Verified Paper!
But Diebold Dangles Deep Discounts to Grab HAVA Contracts in
By overwhelming majority, Pennsylvania voters want the security and accuracy of a voter-verified paper record or ballot, according to the most recent OpEdNews.com / Zogby People's Poll. Zogby International conducted interviews of 850 likely Pennsylvania voters online on January 26th and 27th. The poll consisted of over 70 questions, including questions on privatization of electronic election technology, voter registration, and more. (More About the Poll)
One of the most stunning results showed that only 11.6% of respondents viewed electronic voting as trustworthy. Approximately 85% want some form of voter-verified paper record to protect and preserve their vote, with 73% supporting Electronic voting with paper records and 12% supporting paper ballots or lever machines only.
In spite of strong public support for vote verification, the Pennsylvania Department of State and county officials seem to continue flying in the face of voter concerns as a state-wide headlong rush to certify and purchase paperless electronic voting systems continued last week in the Keystone State. At the same, Diebold Election Systems is offering their touchscreen machines to Pennsylvania counties at fire sale prices. With concerns about the vulnerabillity of their machines making headlines across the country, has Diebold decided to unload their inventory in Pensylvania while they can? Read the Entire Article
Virginia: Subcommittee Puts
The Brakes On Verifiable Elections
Focus Shifts To Companion Bill In The House
In a disappointment for citizens concerned about the accuracy and security of elections in Virginia, the Campaign and Elections Subcommittee of the Senate's Privileges and Elections Committe has voted to recommend that SB 424 be carried over until the 2007 legislative session. While the full committee could still take the bill up in this session, it is unlikely. The bill, which arose from hearings held by a special joint committee over the past two years, had been introduced by Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-34th). The bill would would have established requirements for a voter verified paper record of every vote, mandatory random audits, and the disclosure of voting system software.
The vote to effectively stop the bill from moving forward in this session was 3-1. Voting against action on the bill in this session were subcommittee chairman Jay O'Brien (R- 39th), Phillip Puckett (D-38th), Mark Obenshain (R-26th). Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville 25th), a consistent champion on election integrity issues, voted against the recommendation.
Attention is now focused on the companion bill in the House of Delegates, HB 1243, which was introduced by Rep. Tim Hugo (R-40th). Virginia Verified Voting, The New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia, VerifiedVoting.org, and VoteTrustUSA have all endorsed both HB 1243 and SB 424. For more information about the bills click here.
Washington: New Bill Would Close Hole In State Audit
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 ounty 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. Read the Entire Article
VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA have launched a Citizen's Action in support of HB-2532. Please click here to send a message to your Washington State legislators urging them to support this important legislation.
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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