Election Integrity News - July 9, 2007

This Week's Quote: "Just like there has been in electronic voting, I realize some will be skeptical about an Internet approach and that there will be legitimate concerns over security and transparency issues." Paul DeGregorio, former chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, now Chief Operating Officer of Everyone Counts, a company that is marketing internet voting systems.

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Click Here To Download Testimony from The Senate Rules
Committee Confirmation Hearings for Federal Election Commission Nominees


In this issue ...

National Stories

After Three Months, What Can Tova Wang Tell Congress

EAC Releases NVRA Report

Justice Department's Failure to Enforce National Voter Registration Act Underscored by New Report

More Election Officials in Diebold Sales Literature

Presidential Candidate Supports "Open Source" for Voting Systems

House Passes Bill Prohibiting Deceptive Practices in Campaigns

News From Around the States

California: New Working Group Established to Evaluate Post-Election Audit Standards

California Secretary of State Moves To Tap ES&Sās Escrowed Source Code

Florida: Disappearing Votes in Charlotte County

Maryland: Election Official Endorses Diebold Machines in Marketing Literature

New York: Citizens 1, Microsoft 0

New York: Why Computerized Voting Machines Cause Long Lines and Disenfranchise Voters

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HR 811: A Reliable, Verifiable Vote in 2008
by Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico

In November 2008, voters will go to the polls and choose the next president of the United States and their representatives to Congress — or will they?

According to Common Cause, more than a third of our states still use voting machines that do not support hand recounts and provide no auditable paper trail. “One person, one vote” is the hallmark of America’s democracy, but to make sure that our next president is elected by people, not by the malfunction of an electronic voting machine, we must immediately move to a durable paper-ballot system backed by regular audits in every state in the nation. For these reasons, Congress should quickly pass H.R. 811, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and cosponsored by more than 220 Democratic and Republican members of Congress.

Every federal election since 2000 has clearly shown that these machines can and do malfunction. In New Mexico, in 2002 these voting systems lost the votes of almost 13,000 citizens, and in 2004 they failed to register the candidate of choice for many voters. If there is no accurate and verifiable paper record of voter intent, there is no accountable means of determining a winner. Worse still, voter confidence is damaged and diminished. Any elected official’s authority is only as strong as the voter’s belief that the election was won fair and square.

In 2005 a grassroots coalition of concerned New Mexicans demanded action — and we acted. Working together with these citizens and the state legislature, I fought for legislation to increase voter confidence in our democracy through specific and concrete measures. We improved and standardized training for poll workers. We established statewide standards for provisional ballots to ensure that voters in low-income areas will not be disenfranchised. We made absentee voting fair, simple and uniform. And we established a random, statewide 2 percent audit of voting machines.

One year later, I signed a bill to move New Mexico to an all-paper-ballot system using optical scanners to count votes. We ended the hodgepodge of systems that confused voters and raised questions about reliability.

New Mexico’s conversion to a paper-ballot system made sense. Paper ballots are the least expensive, most secure form of voting available. For people with disabilities, ballot-marking devices were available at every polling location to ensure that every voter was treated equally. Voters who required assistance to vote in their native language, such as Navajo, could also use ballot-marking devices. Using optical scanners meant quick and accurate results, while at the same time paper ballots became the permanent, verifiable, durable record of the vote.
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Congress should expect any transition to be met by demands for transitional funding and a go-slow approach from some state and county election officials. Any bill should indeed include full funding to transition and maintain paper-ballot machines, and ongoing funding for manual audits — as the Holt bill does. That includes reimbursing those states that have shown leadership and moved to a full-paper-ballot system. I call on Congress to go further and provide funds to train volunteers, staff and election officers to use the new machinery.

Congress must also resist demands for a go-slow approach that unduly delays the sensible, pragmatic approach in the Holt legislation. In New Mexico, within eight months of mandating a voter-verified paper-ballot system statewide, we held elections that were accountable and verifiable.

That result is due in no small part to the diligent and committed work of state and county election officials, and the poll workers in each of our precincts. To ensure the integrity of our next election, America must move to a paper ballot system by 2008, not 2010.

One person, one vote is in jeopardy if we do not act boldly and quickly. It’s time we undertake national electoral reform that restores confidence in our electoral system and our democracy.

I urge Congress to pass and fully fund the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, to go a step further and fund training for election officials, and move America to a reliable and verifiable paper-ballot system now.

Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, is the governor of New Mexico. Permalink

National Stories

After Three Months, What Can Tova Wang Tell Congress?
by Sean Flaherty Iowans for Voting Integrity- July 7, 2007

Almost three months after Tova Wang (pictured at right) requested that the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) grant her permission to speak to third parties, including members of Congress, about her work on the Commission's Voting Fraud and Voter Intimidation Project, the EAC refuses to state if it believes that specific aspects of her work are off limits.

Wang, Democracy Fellow at the New Century Foundation, and Republican election attorney Job Serebrov were contracted by the EAC in 2005 to prepare a report on voting fraud and voter intimidation summarizing the available evidence and current scholarship on the subject. Significant differences between the report they submitted to the EAC on July, 2006 and the version approved and published by the Commission in December have inspired controversy and Congressional inquiries.

James Joseph, Wang's attorney, calls the EAC's response to Wang's request "incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading." In a June 14 letter to Joseph, EAC counsel Gavin Gilmour interpreted Wang's request to speak publicly about her work as a request to speak "on behlaf of the agency." Gilmour's letter states that "Ms. Wang is free to discuss public matters as she wishes," that the Commission has decided to make the "Voting Fraud and Voter Intimidation Project's correspondence and documents available to the public." Immediately following this statement, Gilmour writes that on June 8, the EAC voted to "publicly release (waiving associated priveleges) all Voter Fraud Project documents is has provided in response to Congressional requests." Whether that statement means all documents relating to the project were in fact provided to members of Congress is unclear. Read the Entire Article

EAC Releases NVRA Report
by EAC Media Release - July 1, 2007

172.8 Million Registered Voters in 2006

The United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) today delivered to Congress its report on the Impact of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993. The NVRA report, which covers registration information from after the 2004 general election through the 2006 general election, and the corresponding data tables are available at www.eac.gov.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 mandates that the EAC submit a report to Congress every two years on the impact of the NVRA on the administration of federal elections. The report was based on information provided by 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories, representing 2,978 out of a total 3,524 jurisdictions.

Read the Entire Article

Justice Department's Failure to Enforce National Voter Registration Act Underscored by New Report
Project Vote Press Release - July 4, 2007

Late last week, the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) published its biennial report (PDF) to Congress on the impact of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). This report includes data on various aspects of voter registration in the past two years. These most recent numbers strongly indicate that many states continue to ignore the requirement (Section 7 of the NVRA) that public assistance agencies offer voter registration to clients, while enforcement of the law by the Department of Justice has been virtually non-existent. In response, the following statement was released by Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, national voting rights groups that have been working to improve NVRA compliance:

"The registration data published by the EAC are disturbing. Between initial implementation of the law in 1995-1996 and 2005-2006, the EAC's numbers indicate an 80 percent nationwide decrease in voter registrations from public assistance agencies. Nine states reported decreases of 90 percent or more. States only registered half as many voters in public assistance agencies in 2005-2006 as they did as recently as 2003-2004. With only 59 percent of citizens in households making less than $15,000 registered to vote--compared to 85 percent in households making $75,000 or more--voter registration in public assistance agencies is an increasingly important tool to ensure all eligible citizens are able to participate in the democratic process."

"It also appears that states are making little effort to train public assistance caseworkers in conducting voter registration. The EAC report indicates that only six states provide training at least every two years to all voter registration agencies. Read the Entire Article

More Election Officials in Diebold Sales Literature
by Kim Zetter - July 6, 2007

This article was posted at the Wired.com Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author. 

Maryland's Linda Lamone isn't the only election official appearing in literature to market Diebold voting systems (see this post from last week). Another, older, brochure has surfaced featuring photos and quotes from four other current and former election officials from Maryland and other states. Conny McCormack, the registrar of voters from Los Angeles County; Margaret Jurgensen, election director of Montgomery County, Maryland; Cathy Cox, Georgia's former secretary of state; and Connie Schmidt, former election commissioner of Johnson County, Kansas. All four appear in a Diebold brochure titled "We Won't Rest" touting the company and its machines.

Last week Lamone, Maryland's Board of Elections administrator, was chastised by the governor after Wired News revealed Lamone's participation in a Diebold brochure praising Diebold's new e-pollbook product -- a product that experienced widespread failure during the state's September primary last year. The governor ordered Lamone to tell Diebold to cease using the brochure, which she did, and asked the state ethics commission to look into the matter. Lamone's actions violated a state ethics law. Read the Entire Article

Presidential Candidate Supports "Open Source" for Voting Systems
by Alan Dechert, Open Voting Consortium - July 1, 2007

John Edwards has become the first presidential candidate to support "open source code" for election systems. In a letter dated June 21st addressed to Alan Dechert, the Edwards campaign stated that, "To ensure security, these machines should be programmed with an open source code for complete transparency, and election results should be safeguarded by voter-verified paper records."

Currently, software used in election systems remains the proprietary property of vendors. This situation has created a continual problem when anomalous results have been reported and independent experts are denied the ability to review how the systems work. A growing body of critics oppose this privatization of the voting system.

"Open source" means that the computer instructions written by programmers are publicly available. Open source software is rapidly replacing proprietary software in other applications, including the Internet and military applications.

"We congratulate Senator Edwards for taking a leadership role in the fight to restore public oversight of the voting system," said Alan Dechert, president of Open Voting Consortium.

House Passes Bill Prohibiting Deceptive Practices in Campaigns
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - June 26, 2007

On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (HR 1281) in a bi-partisan voice vote. The bill would make it a federal crime to knowingly provide false information with the intent to disenfranchise another person in a federal election. Violators would be subject to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

The bill would have limited the time frame for infraction to 60 days preceding a federal election. A committee amendment offered by ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX) made deceptive practices punishable year-round. Under the bill, the Attorney General would be required to establish a Voting Integrity Task Force within the Justice Department to “undertake all effective measures necessary to provide correct information to voters” and refer matters to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division for prosecution.

The legislation was initially introduced in the Senate in the last session by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), who has a similar bill pending in this session. The Senate bill, unlike the House version has a provision that would allow private parties, rather than just the Justice Department, to bring lawsuits in order to block deceptive practices during an election campaign. Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

California: New Working Group Established to Evaluate Post-Election Audit Standards
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen Press Release - June 28, 2007

In her continuing effort to ensure the security, accuracy, reliability and accessibility of California voting systems and the elections in which they are used, Secretary of State Debra Bowen today announced the creation of a Post-Election Audit Standards Working Group charged with examining whether the post-election audit standards in California should be strengthened.

While many states have no obligation to manually audit election results, California law requires counties to conduct a manual tally of 1% of the precincts following each election. Congress is currently considering legislation to set a national standard that could require higher percentages of election results to be audited in a post-election hand count.

“California’s 1% audit law is 40 years old, and I want to know how effective it is and whether there are better models for auditing election results and maximizing voters’ confidence in the electoral process,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer.

Read the Entire Article

California Secretary of State Moves To Tap ES&Sās Escrowed Source Code
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen Press Release - June 24, 2007

Vendor Violates Conditions of Its State Certification

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has taken the unprecedented step of pursuing access to a voting system vendor’s source code located in escrow after the vendor – Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) – refused to provide it to the Secretary of State’s office as part of the top-to-bottom review of California’s voting systems.

“I’m not going to stand by and watch ES&S ignore the State of California and, in particular, the voters of Los Angeles County by refusing to abide by the certification conditions that were imposed when ES&S’s InkaVote Plus Voting System was certified last year,” said Bowen. Secretary Bowen’s letter to Iron Mountain, the escrow facility where ES&S stores its source code, is attached.

Secretary Bowen announced in February her intent to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the voting systems certified for use in California. ES&S was first notified 87 days ago – on March 26 – that it had 30 days, under the conditions imposed in April 2006 by the previous Secretary of State when he certified the InkaVote Plus Voting System, to provide the Secretary of State with its equipment, a certified version of the source code, funding to cover the reasonable cost of conducting the review, and an acknowledgement of the terms of a confidentiality agreement. The company has provided the Secretary of State’s office with some voting system equipment, but nothing else.

Read the Entire Article

Florida: Disappearing Votes in Charlotte County
by Florida Fair Elections Center- July 4, 2007

Charlotte County had an astronomically high 25% undervote rate in the November 2006 election – but only in the contest for Attorney General. 

Why did one-in-four Charlotte County voters not get their votes recorded in this race?

We have been investigating what caused the high undervotes in both Charlotte and Sarasota Counties,” said Susan Pynchon, Executive Director of Florida Fair Elections Coalition, “and we’re quite sure that the preliminary results of our investigation will surprise you.” Charlotte County used the ES&S iVotronic touchscreen voting machines on Election Day - the same equipment that was used in Sarasota County.

“We’re inviting Charlotte County voters who experienced a problem voting in the November 2006 election to attend a public forum next Wednesday evening, July 11,” explained Kitty Garber, Florida Fair Election Center’s Research Director. “For example, did your vote vanish from the review screen? Did you have trouble getting your vote to register?  Did the machine fail while you were voting? Did any of your friends and neighbors have the same problem?  If you had a problem voting, we hope you will attend to share your voting experience with us. Read the Entire Article

Maryland: Election Official Endorses Diebold Machines in Marketing Literature
by Kim Zetter - June 26, 2007

This article was posted on the Wired Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Maryland's Board of Elections Administrator, Linda Lamone, is featured in a sales brochure for Diebold Election Systems praising the company's new ExpressPoll-5000 electronic pollbook.

"Our election judges just love this product, and so do I. We in Maryland are extremely pleased with the performance of the system during the general election," reads Lamone's quote next to a photo of her smiling and sitting, presumably, in a state election office.

Aside from the fact that some voters (and the Maryland State Ethics Commission) might take issue with the idea of a state election official appearing in sales literature to promote a specific voting machine company's product, there's one other detail that stands out about Lamone's endorsement (at right) -- the e-pollbooks she's promoting in the brochure experienced large-scale failure during Maryland's inaugural use of them in the September primary last year. More specifically, the Diebold e-pollbooks used in precincts across the state crashed repeatedly during the election causing long delays in voting at some precincts.

The ExpressPoll is a new Diebold product, separate from Diebold's voting machines, for verifying that voters are in the voter-registration database and thus elligible to vote. It's also used to encode a smartcard that voters place in a Diebold voting machine to cast their ballot.

Read the Entire Article

New York: Citizens 1, Microsoft 0
by Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting - June 22, 2007

New Yorkers win Round One in fight for source code protections

This article was posted on Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author. 

I’m pleased to report that due to a huge outpouring of calls from citizens, and three intense days and nights working the Capitol halls by New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the League of Women Voters/NY, New York States’ voting machine laws were not weakened or tampered with in any way. Neither the Microsoft amendment nor any other proposals being pushed by voting machine vendor lobbyists made it into any of the thousands of bills passed in this last crazy week of the session. The citizens of New York State stood up to these powerful private interests and won.

A rapid response of citizens to this threat to our essential protections resulted in over 3000 calls to legislators in just over two days. This huge outpouring from the public averted the threat of a stealth amendment slipping into law unnoticed, as so often happens in this last hectic week in Albany. Every legislator I talked to over the last three days was impressed by the volume of calls and the passionate reaction, promising they would watch the bills carefully for back door changes, and adding their eyes to ours. They reaffirmed their commitment to keeping New York’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation, and in the end, they came through. The public’s response to this threat has kept our representatives vigilant and committed to keeping New York State’s voting machine laws among the strongest in the nation.

Keeping our strict laws intact was an essential win for us, but this is only Round One. The next battleground will be the New York State Board of Elections, where the four commissioners are discussing how to interpret the New York State law. And yes, you guessed it, one of the interpretations being promoted by some of these decision makers would allow the voting machine vendors to use Microsoft and other source code in voting technology that would not be subject to review in the event of election problems. Our next task will be to make sure the State Board of Elections understands what we’ve told the State Legislature, that the public’s will is expressed precisely in the letter of our election law – ALL source code must be handed over, not just some pieces of it. Our elections, and the technologies we use to conduct them, belong to us. And we the people aim to keep it that way.

But today, let’s celebrate. Congratulations friends, we did it!

Read the Entire Article

See also Voting Machine Vendors: We Won't Comply With NY Law

New York: Why Computerized Voting Machines Cause Long Lines and Disenfranchise Voters
by William A. Edelstein, Ph.D. - July 8, 2007

Why Paper Ballot-Optical Scan Eliminates Lines

Technical details with calculations available for download here

New York counties will soon choose computer touchscreen/pushbutton DRE (direct recording electronic) (DRE) voting machines or paper ballot-optical scanner systems (PBOS) to replace lever voting machines. How many new voting machines will be needed? The answer to this question is critical to ensure that voting will go smoothly and that costs will be within reason.

Long lines have occurred during elections using DREs in many states, causing some voters to give up and go home, effectively disenfranchising them. It is prohibitively expensive to buy a large number of DREs, which makes it likely that a substantial number of voters using DREs will end up in long lines. In contrast, PBOS uses simple marking booths whose numbers can be inexpensively increased to eliminate lines and long waits.

I believe that inevitable long voter waits—and consequent disenfranchisement of those who cannot wait—is a fundamental and disqualifying problem for DREs.

A New York City Board of Elections report suggested that one DRE could replace each of our present lever machines and serve 277 voters in a day. They posit that each voter using a DRE with voter verified paper trail takes 3.25 minutes. They then divide a 15 hour election day (900 minutes) by 3.25 minutes and get 277 voters. Read the Entire Article

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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