Election Integrity News - June 19, 2007
In this issue ...
E-Voting Threatens Election Integrity
HR 811: Separating Truth From Fiction in E-voting Reform
Rep. Rush Holt's VCIA Bill is Fair, Necessary and Overdue
The Campaign For Secure Elections
Civic Groups Call on Senate to Correct E-voting Problems Before 2008
Career DOJ Professionals Urge Rejection of von Spakovsky's
On DREs vs. Opscan...
Statement of Hilary O. Shelton to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Commission Votes to Release All Documents Provided
Redistricting Reform: Tanner, Lofgren, Wamp Call for Judiciary Hearings
News From Around the States
Connecticut Legislature Sends Audit Bill to Governor
Florida Court Rules in Favor of ES&S Trade Secret Protection
Governor Crist Signs Legislation Creating Paper Trail for Florida Votes
Florida Voters Coalition and Florida Council of the Blind Announce Strategic Alliance
Florida 13th Investigation Could Extend to 2008 According to GAO
Maryland: Gov. O'Malley Signs Paper Records Bill Into Law
New York: Microsoft Muscles the Legislature
New Jersey: Coalition Introduces Groundbreaking Election
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Time Has Come for Congress
to Help Fix Voting System
by Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State of Minnesota
assistance from the Help America Vote Act, most states have now
retired the punch-cards systems and lever voting machines that plagued
elections in the past, most famously in Florida. This was an important
first step down the path of restoring public trust in our elections.
Now it is time for the next step.
Ironically, Florida is leading the way. Gov. Charlie Crist's (R)
recent decision to replace expensive and unreliable direct electronic
voting machines with paper ballots counted by inexpensive optical
scanners is the next big leap toward security and integrity in elections.
Recently, the state of Maryland and counties in other states have
joined Florida in making this shift. In Mississippi, Harrison County
Clerk Gayle Parker explained that her county board voted unanimously
to dump their electronic voting machines because "we've had
a lot of problems with the machines" and "if we have a
contested election, we're not going to have a paper ballot to be
able to rely on."
Florida has adopted the voting system that we use in Minnesota,
where every citizen votes by marking a paper ballot that is then
counted by an optical scanner located in each polling place. These
counting machines are then double-checked with post-election random
audits. Crist had one overriding objective in his decision - "no
more election embarrassments" - and he will be implementing
these changes before the 2008 presidential election. About two dozen
other states are moving in the same direction or are already there.
The confidence of Minnesota voters in our paper ballot-based system
is one reason why we consistently lead the nation in voter turnout.
This approach also turns out to be the lowest cost and simplest
to administer - important considerations for government.
Congress needs to help other states move in the same direction
as Florida. The federal government must provide the funds needed
to replace unverifiable direct recording electronic voting machines.
Several bills moving through the House and Senate would provide
the money needed to help other states take the same steps as Florida.
In the House, the bill with the most support and momentum is H.R.
811, and it is slated to go to the floor in the next few weeks.
Introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) with more than 200 bipartisan
co-sponsors, this bill provides the financial support many states
will need to move toward a verifiable system with paper ballots.
H.R. 811 rightly requires that all paperless voting systems be upgraded
to produce an auditable paper record before the November 2008 presidential
election (the bill permits later, staggered deadlines for other
improvements). Considering the mounting evidence that paperless
computerized voting machines can fail or be hacked, it is only prudent
to require the production of paper record for all voting machines
before our next federal election. This simple safeguard will immeasurably
increase integrity, security and confidence of our democracy.
This bill deserves the support of every voter who has worried that
our election system is broken. It deserves the support of election
judges and poll workers frustrated by electronic voting equipment
that constantly breaks down or loses votes. It deserves the support
of local- and state-level elected officials who want free and fair
elections but lack the money needed to fix their broken systems.
And it deserves the support of every Member of Congress who has
heard the anger and cynicism of citizens who no longer believe our
elections can be trusted.
Congress is moving toward establishing national standards for transparency
and verifiability in federal elections, seeking to demonstrate to
voters everywhere that the many different systems used at the local
level in our country are equally accurate and secure. H.R. 811 is
an important first step in this direction.
Paper ballots, optical scanners, effective testing and post-election
audits are not the end of the journey to securing our democracy
- they are just the next step. And 2008 is not the end of our search
for a democracy restored, it's just the next step. I agree with
Florida Gov. Crist - no more embarrassments. Our democracy cannot
afford the price of another failed election. Permalink
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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
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Rush Holt’s bill, which was recently approved by a House committee,
would be a big improvement.
This article was published on American.com
love new technology. We buy ever-smaller gadgets and ever-larger televisions.
Many of us have computers in our cars, our telephones, and our music players.
But our fetish for all things high-tech has not served us well when it comes
to elections. We began wide-scale adoption of touch-screen voting machines after
the 2000 elections in the hope that they would make our elections more secure.
Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred: Voting machines have proven to be
buggy, error prone, and less reliable than the low-tech systems they replaced.
And unfortunately, these problems are not just growing pains. The fundamental
problem with computerized voting machines is their lack of transparency. In
order to ensure that elections are conducted fairly and accurately, it is important
that election officials, candidates, and members of the general public be able
to observe and verify every stage of the election process. Computerized voting
machines make independent verification of election procedures extremely difficult
because important steps of the election process, including recording, tallying,
and reporting votes, occur unseen inside a computer chip.
That’s not the only reason e-voting is dangerous. One of the important
safeguards in the traditional election process is that it is extremely labor-intensive.
Thousands of people are involved in the process of collecting and counting votes.
As a result, stealing an election almost always requires a large, organized
conspiracy that would be hard to keep secret. In contrast, e-voting can allow
a single, well-placed individual to tamper with the software of numerous voting
machines at once, potentially altering the outcome of an election in an entire
congressional district or state. Indeed, this is more than a hypothetical scenario.
Last fall, Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten obtained a widely-used
e-voting machine and created a virus
that could be used to steal an election. The virus would spread from
machine to machine through the memory cards that install software upgrades.
(Of course, Felten didn’t use his virus on any real voting machines or
release the software to the public.) Read
the Entire Article at American.com.
This article was posted on the Deep
Links Blog at the Web site of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation website and is reposted here with permission of the
After years of painstaking lobbying, e-mail and phone campaigns, congressional
hearings, and committee markups and amendments, Rep. Rush Holt's Voter
Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act finally appears poised for a
floor vote in the House of Representatives. With an impressive 216 bipartisan
co-sponsors, the bill has a real chance of passing. If signed into law, HR 811
would dramatically improve the electoral process in both the short and long
term. While it would not solve the immense shortcomings in the current system,
HR 811 would take a giant step towards returning much-needed transparency and
accountability to the process.
Not unexpectedly, now that the bill has gained traction in the 110th Congress,
critics have descended onto the bill with a fury, complaining that it is too
weak or too strong, that its deadlines are too ambitious or too distant, that
it takes too much autonomy away from the states or not enough.
HR 811 is not perfect. Few bills are. And honest debate about a matter as important
as election integrity is always helpful to the process. However, much of the
ostensibly pro-transparency criticism of HR 811 has sadly taken a detour away
from being useful and descended into hyperbole, fear-mongering, and uninformed
posturing. Returning to the substance of the bill and its actual consequences
is long overdue. Read
the Entire Article
This editorial appeared in The
Spectrum and is reposted with permission of the author.
Since the Help America Vote Act was implemented and electronic voting machines
became commonplace, there has been a growing clamor for all voting systems to
provide a voter-reviewed paper ballot. The call for a voter-verified paper ballot
for every vote cast comes from the General Accounting Office, the National Institute
of Standards and Technology, The Commission on Federal Election Reform, countless
election experts and computer scientists and most overwhelmingly from voters.
Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., responded by introducing, "The Voter Confidence
and Increased Accessibility Act," addressing widespread concern about the
security and reliability of electronic voting systems by requiring that all
voting systems provide a paper record and all voting systems be audited to check
the accuracy of the vote count. It also provides the needed funding for these
provisions. These common sense safeguards are long overdue.
The recent editorial, "Holt
bill not fiscally fair," though well intentioned, was itself not entirely
fair. Before and after the bill's introduction, Congressman Holt sought comments
from state and county election officials. Rep. Holt and the presiding U.S. House
Committee listened, and meticulously amended the bill to satisfy many of the
concerns raised, while safeguarding the 2008 election. Thus, the amended bill,
now up for a floor vote, already resolves the criticisms levied in The Spectrum
& Daily News editorial. Read the Entire Article
This article was posted at The
Huffington Post and is reposted here with permission of the author.
As the presidential candidates' ramp up their campaigns, it's hard to resist
asking, 'can't give us a break?' Didn't the last federal election cycle just
end? Isn't November 2008 awfully far away?
Perhaps. But there is one campaign for all future federal elections that must
begin in earnest immediately. And that is the campaign to make elections as
secure and accurate as possible. After Florida's hanging chad debacle in 2000,
voting irregularities in Ohio in 2004, and the mysterious loss of 18,000 votes
in a House race in Sarasota in 2006, there is little room for another divisive
national election marred by voting machine glitches.
The good news is that experts agree on what steps must be taken to make voting
systems more secure and more reliable. In fact, the House of Representatives
is about to vote on a bill introduced by Congressmen Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Tom
Davis (R-VA) that would mandate many of these steps. Read the Entire Article
In a joint statement, CommonCause, VerifiedVoting and VoteTrustUSA.org called
on Senator Feinstein to revise her bill, “The Ballot Integrity Act of
2007” to address the widespread problem of paperless voting before the
2008 Presidential election.
Although we are glad to see Senator Feinstein taking leadership on the vital
issue of voting machine integrity, we are profoundly disappointed that The
Ballot Integrity Act will not provide every voter with a verifiable paper
record of his or her vote for the 2008 election.
There is copious evidence that e-voting machines are prone to malfunctions
and vulnerable to malicious software attacks, yet over 35 million registered
voters will cast their vote on an unverifiable, unauditable, paperless electronic
voting machine in November 2008 unless Congress acts urgently to correct this
unacceptable reality. Voters everywhere agree that all voting systems
should produce a verifiable, re-countable paper record. We know too much to
recklessly gamble with the 2008 Presidential election”.
We wanted to bring to your attention the following letter to the Senate
Rules Committee from six former career professionals at the Justice Department
urging the rejection of the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal
June 11, 2007
Dear Chairperson Feinstein and Ranking Member Bennett:
As former career professionals in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice's
Civil Rights Division, we urge you to reject the nomination of Hans A.von Spakovsky
to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Prior to his current role as a recess
appointee to the FEC, Mr. von Spakovsky oversaw the Voting Section as Voting
Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division from
early in 2003 until December, 2005. While he was at the Civil Rights Division,
Mr. von Spakovsky played a major role in the implementation of practices which
injected partisan political factors into decision-making on enforcement matters
and into the hiring process, and included repeated efforts to intimidate career
staff. Moreover, he was the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's
mandate to protect voting rights. Foremost amongst his actions was his central
decision-making role on a matter where he clearly should have recused himself.
We urge you to use this confirmation process as an opportunity to thoroughly
examine Mr. von Spakovsky's tenure at the Department of Justice and how his
commitment to party over country will affect his decision making at the FEC.
Each of us came to the Voting Section to participate in the crucial role the
Department of Justice plays in protecting all Americans without fear or favor.
We saw this as an honor. Our commitment to public service was grounded in the
belief that every American should have an equal opportunity to participate in
our political process. We sought to work for the Civil Rights Division because
of our patriotism, because of the honor of service and because of our commitment
to the historic and heroic work of our predecessors in the Division. We are
deeply disturbed that the tradition of fair and vigorous enforcement of this
nation's civil rights laws and the reputation for expertise and professionalism
at the Division and the Department has been tarnished by partisanship. Over
the past five years, the priorities of the Voting Section have shifted from
its historic mission to enforce the nation's civil rights laws without regard
to politics, to pursuing an agenda which placed the highest priority on the
partisan political goals of the political appointees who supervised the Section.
We write to urge you not to reward one of the architects of that unprecedented
and destructive change with another critical position enforcing our country's
election laws. Read
the Entire Letter
This article was posted on Joe
Hall's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.
There seems to be a sentiment in the e-voting activist community that
"DREs involve secret recording and counting of votes and optical scanning technologies (Opscan) only involve secret counting."
(that's my paraphrase... I'm not quoting anyone in particular)
Someone has asked what I think about this:
Let's look at this from a scientific point of view. Both DRE and Opscan voting
technology involve translating voter intent into digital records. With a DRE,
the voter touching a touchscreen (or other form of input) is translated into
digital selections recorded in digital storage (and possibly also recorded on
a contemporaneously-produced paper record). For Opscan, the voter's marks on
a piece of paper are translated into a digital record. So, in both of these
cases, there is an individual digital record produced for each ballot from how
the machine interprets the voter's intent; these are later (counted) tabulated
at either the machine-level or after uploading them to a central computer (a
In both cases, unofficial results typically come from counting (tabulating)
the digital records. So, it is the digital records that are counted. In places
that require manual audits, some subset of machines or precincts may be manually
tallied to serve as a check on the results from digital tabulation. Rarely,
save in the cases of 100% recounts or jurisdictions that still use hand counting
methods, are all physical ballots recounted. Read
the Entire Article
The following statement was delivered at a hearing before the Senate
Judiciary Committee on the Prevention of Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation
in Federal Elections (S. 453), Thursday June 7, 2007.
right to vote has always been of the utmost priority to the NAACP. For almost
a century, the NAACP has fought against those who wish to suppress the votes
of African Americans and other racial or ethnic minority Americans through unfair
or unjust laws, deception and/or intimidation.
With the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it became illegal for states
or local municipalities to pass laws that in any way infringed on a person’s
Constitutional right to register and cast an unfettered vote. Subsequent laws
and reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act have further addressed these tactics
and made it harder for a state or a local government to infringe on a citizen’s
right and ability to cast an unfettered vote.
Unfortunately, some people are still so desperate to win elections – elections
that they fear they cannot rightfully win – that they resort to deceptive
practices, misinformation and lies, to try to keep legitimate voters away from
the polls or to support candidates whom they might not otherwise vote for. It
is even more unfortunate that these practices often target and exploit many
of the same populations that have historically been excluded from the ballot
box. Specifically, vulnerable populations, such as racial and ethnic minorities,
the disabled and/or the poor and senior citizens are often targeted by those
perpetuating these deceptive practices.
To put it bluntly, it is now against the law to use official means to prevent
whole communities of American citizens from casting a free and unfettered ballot.
Yet there are still people and organizations in our country who are so afraid
of the outcome of our democratic process that they must stoop to lies, duplicitous
behavior and intimidation to try to keep certain segments of our community away
from the voting booth. Read
the Entire Statement
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has voted to release more than
40,000 pages of documents provided in response to requests for information from
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) and U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-16).
Congressional and EAC correspondence are available here.
The documents are available on four compact discs by calling toll free at 866-747-1471
or sending a request to HAVAinfo@eac.gov.
"I am proud of our staff, and I believe we have conducted ourselves ethically.
That is why we are making all of this information available to the public,"
said EAC Chair Donetta Davidson. "There has been a lot of interest about
how the commission makes its decisions regarding editing and adopting reports,
and this information will shed light on that process.
"We look forward to answering questions about these documents and working
with Congress to make sure election officials have the tools they need to conduct
accurate, accessible, and secure elections." Read
the Entire Media Release
The ReDistricting Game!
U.S. Reps. John Tanner (D-TN), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) today
asked the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Congressional redistricting
Tanner and Wamp have introduced the Fairness
and Independence in Redistricting Act (H.R. 543), and Congresswoman Lofgren
has introduced the Redistricting
Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 2248). Both bills would create independent commissions
in each state to conduct redistricting and would ban mid-decade redistricting.
The text of their letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith follows:
Dear Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith:
We are writing to ask that your committee hold hearings on the issue of Congressional
redistricting reform. Recently, two bills – H.R. 543 and H.R. 2248 –
that would reform the process for re-drawing Congressional districts have been
introduced and referred to your committee.
Since the time of Elbridge Gerry, state legislatures have used their power
to draw Congressional maps for partisan gain. Improvements in technology and
an increasing willingness to participate in “mid-decade redistricting”
have taken the gerrymandering process to new extremes. As a result, large numbers
of voters are being marginalized while the climate in Washington, D.C., has
grown more polarized.
Redistricting reform is not and should not be a partisan cause. Both Democrats
and Republicans have engaged in gerrymandering and the recent increase in mid-decade
redistricting may spark retaliatory measures in other states. That is why good
government advocates, public interest groups, major newspaper editorial boards
and dozens of Members of Congress have demanded that some type of reform be
instituted to guarantee a voice for every voter. It is time for the House of
Representatives to examine the process used for drawing its Members' districts.
Under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has the power to regulate how
districts for the House are drawn. Again, we ask that you schedule a hearing
in the Committee on the Judiciary to review the fundamental problems with the
flawed redistricting process and consider some of the solutions that have been
From Around the States
On June 6 the Connecticut House voted 150-1 to adopt a post election audit
provision supported by Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz's. The bill has already
been approved unanimously in the Senate and now goes to Governor M. Jodi Rell
The bill requires audits in 10 percent of randomly selected polling districts
during state elections starting in 2008. Bysiewicz had originally proposed a
20%, which would have been the highest post election audit percentage in the
nation. Thirteen other states require audits of election results.
Connecticut will begin using optical scan voting systems statewide with this
fall's local elections, replacing the lever voting machines used since the 1920s.
Focus Now Shifts to GAO and Congressional Task Force
Florida appellate court has ruled that Congressional candidate Christine Jennings
(pictured at right) may not have access to the software that counted votes in
the last November’s disputed contest for Florida’s 13th District.
Citing Jennings’ failure to prove the "extraordinary burden"
of proving that the December decision of a lower court ruling denying her access
to the source code of the ES&S iVotronic machines used in Sarasota County
had been wrong.
National attention was drawn to the irregularly high undervote rate on the iVotronic
machines used in Sarasota County last November. While absentee ballots in Sarasota
County and paper ballots used in other counties in the 13th District reflected
a typical Congressional undervote rate of around 2% in the election, the iVotronics
reflected an undervote rate of over 16%. While different explanations for the
anomaly have been offered, without access to the source code from which the
software on the machines was generated, it is impossible to rule out the role
that software may have played.
In the December ruling, Florida Circuit Judge William Gary had determined that
ES&S’s trade secret protection overrode Jennings' contention that
access to the source code was necessary to determine with certainty the cause
of over 18,000 undervotes in the hotly contested race for the 13th District.
the Entire Article
Charlie Crist (pictured at right) has signed House Bill 537 that will establish
a paper trail for all votes cast in Florida elections. The election-reform
legislation will provide optical scan machines for counties that do not already
have them for Election Day voting and early voting sites. The legislation
also changes the date of Florida’s presidential primary to the last
Tuesday in January.
There is no greater testament to our nation’s democracy than the people’s
ability to choose their leaders,” Governor Crist said. “When Floridians
cast ballots in an election at any level – local, state or federal –
they can leave the polling place knowing that their vote has been counted
and recorded and can be verified.”
Governor Crist signed the bill at the Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections
office in West Palm Beach. He was joined at the bill signing ceremony by Palm
Beach County Supervisor of Elections Arthur Anderson, Congressman Robert Wexler,
bill sponsors Representatives David Rivera (R-Miami) and Dorothy Hukill (R-Port
Orange) and Senators Lee Constantine (R-Altamonte Springs) and Jeremy Ring
(D-Margate) and other legislators.
Representatives from the following organizations also attended the bill signing
ceremony: the Voters Coalition, Broward Election Reform Commission, Miami-Dade
Elections Reform, Palm Beach Elections Reform, Voting Integrity Alliance,
and the Palm Beach League of Women Voters. Read
the Entire Press Release
All Voters Deserve Paper Ballots - Voters With Disabilities Must Not
Be Left Behind
Florida Voters Coalition (FVC) and the Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) today
announced a strategic alliance calling on Florida state and county officials
to provide paper ballots for all voters in all elections. “This is an
historic day,” said FVC Co-Founder, Dan McCrea, “when those demanding
the security of paper ballots and those demanding HAVA compliant accessibility
for voters with disabilities speak with one unified voice. Listen up, state
and county officials. No voter should be left behind, especially in the name
of equality. That is simply absurd. It’s time to scrap your DREs and replace
them with non-tabulating ballot marking devices, providing all voters paper
ballots – no exceptions.”
“No exception needed or wanted for voters with disabilities,” said
Paul Edwards, former President of the American Council of the Blind, speaking
for the Florida Council of the Blind, the state-wide chapter. “The very
purpose of HAVA Section 301 was to provide an equal opportunity to voters with
disabilities. ’Equal’ doesn’t only apply to the ability to
cast a private and independent ballot – something precious to blind and
other disabled voters - it also applies to the ability to cast a secure ballot.
Only optical scan paper ballot systems are secure in Florida today. Florida’s
newly passed legislation requires paper ballots for everyone then provides an
exception for voters with disabilities. Until 2012, counties can choose to provide
us paperless electronic DREs. Our message today is, No thank you. We don’t
want them and should not be forced to use them. Paperless electronic DRE voting
systems are fit for no one.”
For years,” McCrea said, “proponents of paperless electronic DRE
voting systems have claimed that their systems are the only solution for voters
with disabilities. That’s just not true. Non-tabulating ballot marking
devices provide superior touchscreen, audio, tactile, sip-and-puff, and other
interface facilities to allow voters with disabilities to cast a private and
independent vote, and they are HAVA compliant. But unlike failed DRE systems,
they allow all voters to vote on one uniform, paper-ballot-based, secure voting
system. Surely that is the intent of both federal and state law.”Read
the Entire Article
The House Administration Committee task force investigation into the 2006 election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District could extend into 2008, according to an article published in the beltway newspaper Roll Call.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week told a special House elections task force that it may take months to determine what allegedly caused thousands of votes to disappear in a Florida House election in November, likely dimming the prospects that the sun will set in the still-disputed contest before late 2007 or beyond.
Among the reasons that the investigation will take so long: the GAO’s
stated need to evaluate the work of the Florida state audit published in February
– and the possibility that Election Systems and Software, the company
that manufactures the controversial ES&S iVotronic voting machine used in
Sarasota County, will refuse to disclose the iVotronic source code to the federal
agency. According to the article, GAO spokeswoman Nancy Kingsbury said it will
“take a couple of months” for the auditing agency to formulate its
game plan before reporting its findings back to the task force. Read
the Entire Article
Implementation next key step for securing Maryland’s elections
The Maryland Election Integrity
Coalition (MD-EIC) applauded Gov. O’Malley today for signing SB 392
and putting Maryland on track to enacting meaningful voting system reform in
time for the 2010 election.
Delegate Sheila E. Hixson, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and sponsor
of this voting proposal for the last two years said, ”Counting of votes
is a public trust. I am delighted that we can finally have the most secure voting
system possible. We must also recognize Maryland’s organizations such
as MD-EIC for their advocacy and support for the passage of this bill.”
“We are pleased that the legislature and Gov. O’Malley have taken
this important step toward securing Maryland’s elections,” said
John Schneider, a spokesperson for MD-EIC.
the Entire Article
Software giant moves to weaken NY Election law
This article appeared on Bo
Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.
The 800 pound gorilla of software development has moved forcefully into New
York State, supported by voting machine vendors using Microsoft Windows in their
touch screen voting machines and other systems. Over the last two months Microsoft
and a cadre of high paid lobbyists have been working a full-court press in Albany
in an attempt to bring about a serious weakening of New York State election
law. This back door effort by private corporations to weaken public protections
is about to bear fruit.
On Thursday, June 14, I received a copy of proposed changes
to New York State Election Law drafted by Microsoft attorneys that has been
circulating among the Legislature. These changes would gut the source code escrow
and review provisions provided in our current law, which were fought for and
won by election integrity activists around the state and adopted by the Legislature
in June 2005. In an earlier blog I
wrote about Microsoft's unwillingness to comply with New York State's escrow
and review requirements. Now the software giant has gone a step further, not
just saying “we won't comply with your law” but actively trying
to change state law to serve their corporate interests. Microsoft's attorneys
drafted an amendment which would add a paragraph to Section 1-104 of NYS Election
Law defining “election-dedicated voting system technology”. Microsoft’s
proposed change to state law would effectively render our current requirements
for escrow and the ability for independent review of source code in the event
of disputes completely meaningless - and with it the protections the public
fought so hard for. Read
the Entire Article
Bills seek to improve the administration of elections to ensure accuracy,
security, inclusiveness and integrity
The New Jersey Citizens’ Coalition on the Implementation of HAVA (Help
America Vote Act) is introducing six pieces of legislation that it believes
are needed to ensure the integrity of New Jersey’s elections. One
bill, which has a sponsor, outlines a procedure for the mandatory audit of election
results (amending S.507), and is designed to serve as model legislation for
election integrity post-HAVA. Its most innovative feature is that the margin
of victory in a race would determine the extent of the audit. In closer
races, more districts would be scrutinized, and the districts to be audited
would be chosen at random. The process is transparent, nonpartisan, and
completely independent of software, assuring that outcome-reversing miscounts
are detected. The other five bills address inter-county provisional voting,
voter assistance in Asian languages, verification procedures for voter registration
information, training for poll workers, and requirements for voter registration
Over the past few years, the Coalition has been working with State and local
election officials and legislators to propose and implement election reforms
that build upon the requirements of federal law. By treating HAVA as a
floor and not a ceiling, New Jersey is poised to become a leader in election
administration. With the 2008 Presidential primaries less than a year
away, the need to have reforms in place has created a sense of urgency across
the state, causing the Coalition to take the lead in drafting the new legislation
and forge new partnerships along the way. Its mandatory audit bill was
drafted with the assistance of a Ph.D. political scientist, experienced election
integrity advocates from two states that have election auditing laws, Ph.D.
statisticians from the American Statistical Association, and other voting rights
advocates, all of whom worked pro bono.
We could no longer simply comment on the initiatives of others,” said
Renée Steinhagen, Coordinator of the Coalition. “The time
had come to change our stance and become proactive rather than reactive.”
the Entire Article
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren
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