Election Integrity News - April 11, 2006
Week's Quote: "One of the most alarming trends in our country
is the continual erosion of voter confidence in the accuracy of our tabulated
results." Election Assistance Commisioner Ray Martinez
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
In Pennsylvania ES&S has become the main provider of voting systems and they are not able to deliver all machines that they are contracted to deliver to the counties in time for the primary. They are asking counties to accept a small percentage of the machines they need to conduct elections. In some instances counties may be left with fewer machines than they need to satisfy the accessibility mandates of HAVA and they will have to find another means of meeting that requirement.
Why don't the states or counties speak out? Just this week Marion County Indiana
a county council meeting and demanded that the local ES&S representative
attend. Marion County's ballots for a school board position were
received with no instructions printed for the voters. Instead ES&S sent
an attorney with orders not to say anything except that the representative was
involved in a conference call that began 15 minutes before the council meeting
and that he would not be able to attend.
Johnson County Clerk, Jill Jackson had this to say about their experience with ES&S:
"I guess what bothered us the most is that it's like it's no big deal that they missed a statutory deadline," Jackson said of ES&S. "They're a big company and it's like they don't care, that they'll get (the ballots) to us when they get them done, and that's not acceptable. I'm extremely disappointed in the vendor."What is reported above is only what has been in the media. We now have reports from Nevada County, California that ES&S has missed its deadline for delivery of paper ballots to the county. They were due to be delivered on April 6. On April 7 the county registrar received Democratic ballots only and those were filled with errors and will need to be returned to ES&S. The county also has not had their ballot programming done, as promised.
"I am not happy about the outcome, or the state of the industry. I think that something needs to be done. I'm not sure what it is, it probably doesn't include AccuPoll at this point, but I do not feel that any of the vendors has a system that voters can trust. I think that vendors outright misrepresent the robustness, stability, and security of their systems. You just have to look at the litany of problems and it points at one thing, bad fundamental design, and not enough checks and balances. I also wonder why the other vendors were so adamant in fighting a VVPAT [Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail] system requirement. They spent much more in fighting it than in implementing it."Yesterday I heard a speech from my county auditor who is the head election official in my county in Washington state. She said that those who are raising concerns about voting and elections are just undermining the confidence of the voting public. What a naïve statement to make. We all need to be aware of what is happening to our elections. We all need to talk to our counties, states, and federal officials and let them know that we are headed for a disaster nationally. Maybe your county is in good shape but this is a national issue and a national disaster in the making.
National Coalition for Election Integrity
On behalf of the I Count Coalition, VoteTrustUSA would like to thank all the citizen patriots that came to Washington D.C. last week to voice their concern in the halls of Congress. Well over 200 people came to the Lobby Days and meetings were held in 117 Congressional offices. A petition in support of HR 550, signed by over 50,000 concerned Americans from every Congressional district in every state, was delivered to the Committee on House Administration. During the lobby days, we added 10 new HR 550 co-sponsors. Meetings will continue during the two-week recess in the home districts of those Representatives that are not yet co-sponsors of this important legislation. Help VoteTrustUSA continue the struggle for fair, transparent, and auditable elections. Click here to help VoteTrustUSA continue the struggle for fair, transparent, and auditable elections.
Commissioner Met With Election Activists On Saturday
Commissioner Martinez' Letter of Resignation
The current vice chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Ray Martinez submitted his resignation to President George W. Bush this morning. Mr. Martinez' resignation will become effective June 30, 2006. He cited family considerations as his primary reason for stepping down and lauded his colleagues at the EAC and the agency's staff for their continued work on behalf of the nation.Martinez had been recommended for nomination by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2003.
On April 8, Martinez had met with election integrity activists participating in a VoteTrustUSA leadership workshop. The Commissioner graciously and diplomatically fielded a barrage of questions from leading election refom advocates from across the country for well over and hour. The questions were challenging and well informed and reflected the growing crisis facing our democracy.
The day before he spoke at the VoteTrustUSA workshop, Martinez had presented a paper at a colloquium in Princeton, NJ. The paper presented four solutions to what he called the"alarming erosion" of American voter confidence following the last two presidential elections.
As reported on NJ.com:
"One of the most alarming trends in our country is the continual erosion of voter confidence in the accuracy of our tabulated results," Martinez said. "The 2000 presidential election has adversely affected the opinion of the average American on our electoral process. "Since then, voter confidence has continued to trend in the wrong direction," Martinez added, "and it's unlikely to fade any time soon." At the top of his list was the idea that every state perform a regular election audit to determine that the administration of elections is fair, impartial and consistent with voter intent. The results of these audits should be widely dispersed.Read the Entire Article
HR 550 Collects Ten New Co-Sponsors As Citizens Come To DC To Demand Verifiable Elections
Ion Sancho Issues Statement Supporting HR 550
Over the past two days, hundreds of citizens from across the country participated in a the I Count Lobbys Days in support of Rep. Rush Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550). Meetings has been arrranged in 117 Congressional offices on Thursday afternoon and during the day Friday but already by mid -afternoon Thursday, Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) agreed with activists representing Iowans for Voting Integrity that the nation needs the election safeguards that HR 550 would provide.
By the time Rep. Holt (D-NJ), and HR 550 co-sponsors Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), and Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) spoke at a press conference on Friday morning, the number of new co-sponsors had risen to eight. New endorsements came from Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA), Rep. Steven Lynch (D-MA), and Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY). As the final meeting was concluding at the end of Friday afternoon, the call came from Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had brought the total co-sponsorship of HR 550 to 177. On Monday, Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) signed on as a co-sponsor.
After the press conference, a petition signed by over 50,000 voters form each of the 50 states was delivered to the both the majority and minority offices of the Committee on House Administration. The petition was received by Rep. Vernon Ehlers aide in the Committee Will Plaster (pictured at right with receiving the petition signatures from VoteTrustUSA executive director Joan Krawitz, VotePA's Marybeth Kuznik, Susan Pynchon and AJ Devies of Florida Fair Election Coalition, and other Lobby Days aprticipants).
The I Count Lobby Days were organized by a coalition of national organizations dedicated to transparent and verifiable elections: Electronic Frontier Froundation, True Majority, Verified Voting, VotersUnite.org, VoteTrustUSA,Common Cause, and Working Assets. The I Count Coalition wishes to express their gratitude to the remarkable activists who came to Washington DC at their own expense to voice their support for voter verified paper records, random mandatory hand counted audits, and the prohibition of undisclosed software and wireless ocmmunication devices in voting systems.
Everyone involved in this exhilirating experience of democracy in action is also grateful to Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M. who paid for the printingof materials provided to activists and for the packets left behind for members of Congress.Read the Entire Article
Support HR550 for Voter-Verified Paper Records - Still The "Gold Standard"
This article was posted on VerifiedVoting. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
Recently allegations of shortcomings in the "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" -- HR550, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey -- have been circulated, moments before citizens concerned about verifiable elections nationwide converge on Washington DC to lobby for this particular bill.
The concerns about the legislation are generally unfounded. HR550 remains the "gold standard" of voter-verified paper record (VVPR) legislation, the only one with bi-partisan support and the only one to require mandatory random manual audits that would check for accuracy in every state. The organizations that support it, which run the gamut from partisan at both extremes to non-partisan election reform organizations, do so because it is clear that this legislation would go the furthest to improve election integrity nationwide. Despite the fact that 27 states have passed requirements in one form or another for voter-verified paper records, and another handful have purchased 100% voter-verifiable equipment statewide even without passing a requirement, the sad fact remains that much of our country still lacks a voter-verified paper record and fully three-quarters of the states lack any requirement to audit their elections for accuracy!
In short, HR550 is the best VVPR legislation and has earned the support of those who are concerned about election integrity nationwide. Read the Entire Article
|Keep Electronic Voting Honest
by The Times of Trenton - April 4, 2006
This editorial was published in the The Times of Trenton on April 4th, 2006.
Members of Congress of both political parties and experts on elections across the country have declared their support for laws to ensure the integrity of the nation's electronic voting systems. The campaign received a strong endorsement last summer by the Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, which urged that a voter-verified paper ballot be required for every vote cast and that routine random audits be held to check the accuracy of electronic voting.
Unfortunately, the report also recommended allowing the states to determine the status of the voter-verified paper ballot rather than mandating it as the ballot of record nationwide. This means that any state could decide to disregard the only record that the voter has confirmed in favor of the record inside the electronic machine. Such a decision would make the voter-verified paper ballot in that state nothing more than a meaningless feel-good device. The commission also suggested that pre-election machine "audits" might also be acceptable.
The ideal proposal is HR 550, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt, D-Hopewell Township, which would require all computerized voting machines to produce an individual permanent paper record for each ballot cast that the voter could verify and that could be counted manually to resolve disputes over the outcome. The bill has bipartisan endorsement from one-third of the members of the House of Representatives, and has been endorsed by good-government groups as the "gold standard" in verifiability legislation. It would benefit all political parties and independents equally, in that anyone's election-day candidacy or cause can be the victim of computer malfunction or partisan sabotage. Therefore, it's hard to understand why the leaders of the Republican congressional majority have refused to push it, and why it was stalled in the House Administration Committee for two years by its chairman, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Rep. Ney stepped down from that post in January after being subpoenaed in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, but so far the new chairman, Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., has shown no inclination to move the bill. Read the Entire Article
|Former Voting Machine Vendor CEO Speaks Out Against The Industry
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA- April 11, 2006
Warns That 'None of the Vendors Have a System That Voters Can Trust'
ALSO: Paper Ballot Printing Problems Stop Early Voting In Several States
On April 6, our friends at OpEdNews.Com featured an article that includes an interview with the former CEO of AccuPoll, a voting machine vendor that recently went bankrupt. In the article by Sean Greene of electionline.org the CEO, Dennis Vadura is quoted as saying:
"I am not happy about the outcome, or the state of the industry. I think that something needs to be done. I'm not sure what it is, it probably doesn't include AccuPoll at this point, but I do not feel that any of the vendors has a system that voters can trust. I think that vendors outright misrepresent the robustness, stability, and security of their systems. You just have to look at the litany of problems and it points at one thing, bad fundamental design, and not enough checks and balances. I also wonder why the other vendors were so adamant in fighting a VVPAT system requirement. They spent much more in fighting it than in implementing it."
Now, finally, an industry insider and 'mover-and-shaker' has stepped forward to echo what many of us have been saying for the past two or three years. The remaining vendors are doing all they can to prove that Mr. Vadura is right. That fact is borne out by the following two stories:
Read the Entire Article
|Supreme Court Denies Standing & Allows Costs Against Voting Rights Activist
by EcoTalk Press Release - April 4, 2006
Copy of Supreme Court Ruling
In an alarming wake-up call to voting rights activists accross the country,
the U.S. Supreme Court let stand last week a decision by the U.S. Third Circuit
Court of Appeals. The lower court ruled (Landes v Tartaglione, et al) that Philadelphia
journalist and voting rights activist, Lynn Landes (pictured at right), had
no standing to challenge the constitutionality of election laws which Landes
claimed deny direct access to a tangible ballot and meaningful transparency
to the election process.
Specifically, Landes challenged the use of voting machines and absentee voting in elections for public office. The defendants in the lawsuit were Margaret Tartaglione, Chair of the City Commissioners of Philadelphia; Pedro A. Cortes, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States.
Landes says that the court's decision does not mean that the use of obstructive and non-transparent voting processes or technologies is constitutional. But, it doesn't send a good signal, either.
"Since I represented myself without the support of a voting rights organization, this decision may be a matter of the Court not taking me seriously, rather than any reflection on the case itself," says Landes. She points out that the Third Circuit based its dubious decision on three cases that had nothing to do with elections, voting rights, or challenges to the constitutionality of state and/or federal law.
Landes encourages activists to continue to pursue legal action, but adds a strong note of caution. "The Court is now packed with extremely conservative judges who are taking extraordinary steps to discourage civil rights litigants," she warns. Read the Entire Article
From Around the States
My Rationale For Filing An ADA Complaint Against the State of Florida
Touch-screen voting machines are not accessible to the majority of people with disabilities.
of Devies' ADA Complaint Against The State of Florida
The 2000 Census lists 3.6% of the population as "sensory impaired," which is defined as a degree of loss of sight or hearing. The overall disabled population over age 16 but less than age 65 comprises 20 to 25% of the population, depending on the year for which the data was collected.
Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) devices, otherwise known as a touch screen machines, don't fully accommodate the sight-impaired portion of the 3.6% of sensory-impaired people because the Voter Access Card (VAC) required to activate the DRE voting process requires a specific orientation of the VAC when it is inserted into the DRE. There are no markings on the VAC to help these people orient it properly, so someone will need to assist them.
The National Federation of the Blind and the American Association for People with Disabilities (NFB and AAPD respectively) insist that to vote privately and independently (HAVA 301(a)(1)(A)(i)) a disabled person must be able to enter the polling place and vote without any assistance from anyone. The NFB and AAPD actively promote DRE's. It is obvious these so- called "disability experts" have not thought through the entire process. Read the Entire Article
Chicago City Council Hearing Pursues "Venezuelan Connection"
- Ignores Substantive Issues
Friday's joint hearings conducted by the Chicago City Council's Committees on Finance, Budget and Government Operations and Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics failed to shed much light on the "events and problems that occurred during vote tabulation for the City of Chicago Primary Election held on March 21, 2006," as stated in the meeting's agenda.
Alderman Ed Burke (14th) led off the hearing with a statement expressing concerns and then proceeded with two hours of sharp questioning of Jack Blaine, president of Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc., the company that supplied the voting systems used in both the City of Chicago and suburban Cook County.
Occasionally joined by Alderman Richard Mell (33rd) and Alderman William Beavers
(7th), Burke, chairman of the Council's Finance Committee presented a timeline
chart relating to the acquisition of Sequoia by Bocca Raton, Florida-based Smartmatic
Corporation in March 2005. Throughout, Blaine professed to have little
knowledge of Smartmatic’s Board of Directors or principal investors or
stockholders, even though he serves as president of Smartmatic as well as Sequoia.
Blaine even professed ignorance of the price Smartmatic paid to acquire an 85%
interest in Sequoia from De La Rue Cash Systems 13 months ago, stating only
that it “was less than $20 million.” Of course, it was widely
reported in the financial press at the time that the purchase price was $17.6
million, but apparently Blaine doesn’t pay much attention to details like
major acquisitions his company might have made.
At issue was a disclosure affidavit which Sequoia had completed on August 3, 2005, as a part of the procurement process. The form, which requires the disclosure of officers and directors of the corporation and anyone having a more than 7-1/2 percent interest in the company is silent as to Smartmatic's majority interest in Sequoia. The affidavit, signed by then Sequoia president, Tracy Graham, lists only herself as president and "J. Blaine" as secretary. Blaine consistently deflected questions about the contract between Sequoia and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, suggesting that Howard Cramer, vice president of sales, was responsible. At one point Blaine appeared to disassociate himself from the contract (actually a number of separate agreements) by indicating that Cramer might have been the signatory. However, some of the documents, signed only eight months ago, which Blaine claims he did not know about or did not remember, bear what purports to be his signature, but do not disclose his title as required. Read the Entire Article
|Indiana ES&S Breaks State Law
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA. - April 5, 2006
No Early Voting Ballots Provided, Just Electronic Touch-Screen Voting Machines that Don't Work
Paper Ballots Are Used in the Meantime as ES&S Succeeds at Failing Yet Again…
THE GOOD NEWS: A Local TV News Outlet That Reports Actual News!
This article was published on The Brad Blog and is reposted with permission.
Proving that local TV News stations actually can serve their viewers
by actually investigating stuff that matters, and then reporting on
it, Indianapolis' WISH-TV 8 does it again. In yet another report on local election
has been keeping their viewers informed with a series of stories on voting issues.
"Well, once again, a Voting Machine Company is breaking Indiana law and violating county contracts," the story by reporter Pam Elliot began.
Last night, WISH TV 8 reported on the failure of Elections Systems & Software (ES&S) to perform up to their contract with their customers. That contract: to provide ballots to voters and touch-screen voting equipment that actually works.
Johnson County Indiana was supposed to have their ES&S iVotronic DRE (touch-screen) machines set-up and in use for "absentee voting". However, contrary to their contract and, as WISH TV reports, in violation of state law, ES&S has failed to program the counties "smart cards" with ballot definitions. Which means the voting machines are of no use.
Also missing are printed paper ballots for Johnson County and nearly two-dozen other counties across the state. Which means that in order for these counties to conduct "absentee voting" they will have to copy paper ballots and provide those to the voters. Read the Entire Article
Maryland: Senate Democrats Defeat Verifiable Elections
Maryland voters will vote on paperless touchscreen voting machines again this year thanks to concerted efforts by Democratic State Senate President Mike Miller and Senator Paula Hollinger, chair of the committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs.
In a disappointment to election integrity activists nationwide, the Senate killed a bill that had passed unanimously in the Maryland House of Delegates that would have called for voter verified paper records and mandatory audits on thde last day of the legislative session. As sent to the Senate, the bill also included an amendment that called for implementing a paper ballot optical scan voting system for this year's elections. In addition to the unanimous support of the House of Delegates, the proposal also had the full support of Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. (R).
Senator Hollinger is running for the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Benjamin Cardin. Senator Hollinger has ensured that it will be impossible to independently verify the results of that election results and that the votes of Maryland citizens will be counted by propreitary software provided by Diebold Election Systems.
Also, Firmware Found to be Buggy on Their Electronic Voting Machines as Well
ES&S To Face Tough Questions From County Elections Board, Others States Need to be Notified of the Problems!
This article was posted at The Brad Blog. It is reposted with permission.
Summit County has recently had problems with failed memory cards as related by The BRAD BLOG on March 9 and March 10. As reported at the time, as many as 30% of the cards completely failed initial testing in the county. A few days later, corresponding tests in North Carolina found more than 1000 of the cards failed. The memory cards, amongst other things, store the vote tabulations from elections.
New tests now in Summit County have also revealed additional failures on both memory cards, and the voting machines "firmware" as well.
Today the Akron Beacon Journal has revealed that Summit County has discovered 28 more bad cards in a batch of what was supposed to be good cards as sent to them by ES&S specifically to replace the previous bad ones. Read the Entire Article
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
VoteTrustUSA Statement of Principles
Please forward Election Integrity News to your friends!