Election Integrity News - June 19, 2007

 

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Committee Confirmation Hearings for Federal Election Commission Nominees


In this issue ...

National Stories

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 FEC Nomination

On DREs vs. Opscan...

Statement of Hilary O. Shelton to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Commission Votes to Release All Documents Provided to Congress

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 Reform Legislatation

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Time Has Come for Congress to Help Fix Voting System
by Mark Ritchie, Secretary of State of Minnesota

With 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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National Stories

E-Voting Threatens Election Integrity
by Timothy B. Lee - May 23, 2007

Rush Holt’s bill, which was recently approved by a House committee, would be a big improvement.

This article was published on American.com

Americans 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.

HR 811: Separating Truth From Fiction in E-voting Reform
by Matt Zimmerman, Electronic Frontier Foundation - June 13, 2007

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 author.

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

Rep. Rush Holt's VCIA Bill is Fair, Necessary and Overdue
by Pam Smith, President VerifiedVoting.org - June 11, 2007

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

The Campaign For Secure Elections
by Lawrence Norden, The Brennan Center for Justice Under Law of New York University - June 13, 2007

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

Civic Groups Call on Senate to Correct E-voting Problems Before 2008
by VoteTrustUSA - May 30, 2007

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”.

Career DOJ Professionals Urge Rejection of von Spakovsky's FEC Nomination
by Joseph D. Rich, Robert A. Kengle, David J. Becker, Bruce Adelson, Toby Moore - June 14, 2007

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 Election Commission.

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

On DREs vs. Opscan...
by Joseph Hall, University of California, Berkeley - May 25, 2007

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 tabulation server).

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

Statement of Hilary O. Shelton to the Senate Judiciary Committee
by Hilary O. Shelton, Director NAACP Washington Bureau - June 10, 2007

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.

The 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

Commission Votes to Release All Documents Provided to Congress
Election Assistance Commission Media Release - June 13, 2007

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

Redistricting Reform: Tanner, Lofgren, Wamp Call for Judiciary Hearings
by Rep. John Tanner, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and Rep. Zach Wamp - June 17, 2007

Play 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 reform.

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 proposed.

From Around the States

Connecticut Legislature Sends Audit Bill to Governor
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - June 7, 2007

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 for signing.

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.

Florida Court Rules in Favor of ES&S Trade Secret Protection
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - June 19, 2007

Focus Now Shifts to GAO and Congressional Task Force

A 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. Read the Entire Article

Governor Crist Signs Legislation Creating Paper Trail for Florida Votes
by Governor Crist Media Release - May 23, 2007

Governor 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

Florida Voters Coalition and Florida Council of the Blind Announce Strategic Alliance
by Florida Voters Coalition - May 16, 2007

All Voters Deserve Paper Ballots - Voters With Disabilities Must Not Be Left Behind

The 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

Florida 13th Investigation Could Extend to 2008 According to GAO
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - June 12, 2007

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

Maryland: Gov. O'Malley Signs Paper Records Bill Into Law
by Maryland Election Integrity Coalition - May 17, 2007

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.
Read the Entire Article

New York: Microsoft Muscles the Legislature
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - June 16, 2007

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

 

New Jersey: Coalition Introduces Groundbreaking Election Reform Legislatation
by NJ Citizens’ Coalition on HAVA Implementation - June 11, 2007

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 agencies.

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.” Read the Entire Article

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