Election Integrity News - August 7, 2006

This Week's Quote: "Touch-screen technology, in its current state of development, is simply not ready for 'prime time' here in Connecticut." Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State

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Actions to Take Now

Nationwide: Support Emery County UT Clerk Bruce Funk

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

National: Say No to Prohibited Software in Voting Machines!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977


In this issue ...

National Stories

„You Don‚t Need Papers To Vote?š Non-Citizen Voting and ID Requirements in U.S. Elections

Touch Screens Are Not The Best Choice For Disabled Voters

Voting Security Attacked In Court Again

People With Disabilities Set Up For Failure In Vote-PAD Testing In California

EAC Requests Public Comment On Draft of 2006 Election Survey

News From Around the States

Alabama: Judge Gives Responsibility For State Database To Governor

Arkansas: Committeee Accepts Election Report's Recommendations

California: Do The Secretary of State's Voter Database Restrictions Violate Federal Law?

New Voters With Disabilities Suit in California

Guest Editorial: Count the Vote in CA-50

Connecticut To Use Paper Ballot Voting System

Maine: Department of Justice Announces Agreement On State's HAVA Compliance

Missouri: Second Lawsuit Filed Against Voter ID Law

Tennessee: Voting Machine Failures And Long Ballots Create Delays And Uncertainty

Washington: Federal Judge Strikes Down Restrictive Registration Rules

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Will Your Vote Count in 2006?
by Steven Hill, New America Foundation

This article was published in the Washington Post. It is reposted her with permission of the auhtor. 

Watching Mexico live through a controversial presidential election was like holding up a mirror to our own election difficulties in recent years. As we round the corner and head toward the upcoming November elections -- with control of the Congress up for grabs -- what can Americans expect? Will our votes count? There is both cause for worry, as well as signs that effective voting reform advocacy is paying off.

The root cause of our troubled elections is that, unbelievably, the U.S. provides less security, testing, and oversight of our nation's voting equipment and election administration than it does to slot machines and the gaming industry. Our elections are administered by a hodgepodge of over 3000 counties scattered across the country with minimal national standards or uniformity. Widely differing practices on the testing and certification of voting equipment, the handling of provisional and absentee ballots, protocols for recounts, and training of election officials and poll workers makes for a bewildering terrain.

The three federal laboratories testing voting equipment and software operate with little government oversight. They are called "independent testing authorities," even though two of them have donated tens of thousands of dollars to GOP candidates and the Republican National Committee. The shoddy testing and certification procedures are greased by a revolving door between government regulators and the industry. Former secretaries of state from California, Florida and Georgia, once their state's chief regulator, became paid lobbyists for the corporate vendors after stepping down from public office, as did a former governor of New Hampshire. Several secretaries of state in 2004 served as co-chairs of the George W. Bush re-election campaign for their state; one of these oversaw the election in which he ran -- successfully -- for governor.

Conflicts of interest have crept like a weed into nearly every crevice of election administration. Making matters worse, the powers-that-be appear uncertain about what a secure election administration system actually looks like. This was painfully obvious at the Voting Systems Testing Summit in November 2005, which marked the first time that top federal regulators, vendors, testing laboratories, election administrators, computer scientists and fair elections advocates came together in one place. No one could articulate a comprehensive inventory of the many problems in securing the vote, much less the solutions. Instead, there was a lot of finger-pointing and excuses.

Clearly, the biggest threat to the integrity of our elections is not the shortcomings of any particular type of computerized voting equipment but the fact that -- like the failed rescue effort following Hurricane Katrina -- no one seems to be steering the ship. There is no central brain or team that has a handle on all aspects of the process, developing best practices or a roadmap that states and counties can follow. Tragically, while Congress has appropriated $3 billion for buying new voting equipment, the money is arriving before there are necessary standards in place to ensure the money is not wasted. Read the Entire Article

National Stories

„You Don‚t Need Papers To Vote?š Non-Citizen Voting and ID Requirements in U.S. Elections
by U.S. Representative Rush Holt - August 7, 2006

The following Statement was submitted on June 22, 2006 for the Committee on House Administration Hearing on non-citizen voting.

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Millender-McDonald and respected Members of the Committee, I wished to speak before you today because, while I am pleased that the Committee is considering the issue of fraud in U.S. elections, I am disappointed that your emphasis today is the possibility that dishonest voters will cheat, rather than the possibility that honest voters will be disenfranchised. I do not say that because I think voters will never cheat; I simply say it because evidence that they are doing so to any significant degree appears to be lacking.

For the past three years, I have been documenting to the House Membership the substantial risks that our votes may not be counted as cast on paperless electronic voting machines, that paperless electronic voting devices cannot be independently audited, and that time and again, such systems have been shown to have lost, added, changed, or miscounted our votes. I thank the Chairman again for holding this hearing on election reform today and for the commitment he expressed to me to hold a hearing on the subject of e-voting security and auditability of election systems before the November elections, and I urge him to do so soon.  

The unfortunate remark made by Congressional candidate Francine Busby during her race in California’s 50th Congressional District, which is memorialized in the title of this hearing, is precisely the sort of “anecdotal” rhetorical device that Professor Overton, who testified to this Committee, has remarked. Will we make policy in this Congress on the basis of anecdotes and sound bites, or on the basis of hard evidence? Did Ms. Busby’s remark in fact provoke illegal aliens to vote?  Did any aliens actually overcome the already-existing barriers to entry at the polls and succeed in casting an illegal vote? I do not believe the witnesses before the Committee today offered compelling evidence that such problems were rampant in that election or others. I will be very interested see evidence that voters are, to any significant degree, showing up at more than one polling place to vote, or successfully voting without being registered, or trying to vote using someone else’s identity.  

The Department of Justice (DOJ), in its “Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity for 2004,” reported that “[a]t the end of 2004, the [Public Integrity] Section was supervising and providing advice on approximately 133 election crime matters nationwide.” That is an average of just over 2 cases per State for the entire year – hardly an avalanche. In addition, most of the cases described with specificity in the report concerned campaign finance violations. Only one described a vote-buying scheme, and none referred specifically to non-citizen or double voting. On the other hand, the same Report noted that a total of 1,213 public officials had been federally charged with corruption in 2004, that 1,020 of them had been convicted of corruption, and that 419 cases remained pending.  In other words, according to the DOJ’s own findings, the problem of corruption among public officials is at the very least ten times worse than the problem of citizens cheating in elections. Read the Entire Statement

Touch Screens Are Not The Best Choice For Disabled Voters
by AJ Devies, Handicapped Adults of Volusia County - August 1, 2006

A key point has been lost in the various arguments for and against touch-screen voting machines. The spirit and intent of the accessible voting law are to allow every disabled person the opportunity to cast his or her privately and independently. The key word in the preceding sentence is “every.”  It is not acceptable to accommodate some members of the disabled population and expect the rest of us to live with “business as usual.” That is discrimination, which is not legal.

Accommodating people with different disabilities requires great flexibility in a voting system. What works for and is preferred by certain members of the blind and visually impaired community does not accommodate people with mobility or motor impairments. That is one specific shortcoming with touch screen machines. People with limited use of their hands and arms may not be able to use the touch screen machines. People with spinal cord injuries or similar disorders may require binary devices such as such as “sip-and-puff”. (Other binary devices include foot pedals, joy-sticks and gel pads.)

A  recent analysis of one vendor’s touch screen machine has proven that that touch screen machine contains illegal programming code and high-level security risks.

The gold-standard of assistive ballot marking machines provides audio and/or visual methods to accommodate people with visual or cognitive impairments, binary devices for motor or mobility impairments, touch screen with color contrast and magnification for those who require such accommodation, large, tactile keys on a keypad, and produces a paper ballot just like the paper ballot used by people without disabilities. Visually impaired voters can re-insert their paper ballot into the assistive ballot marking device (in any orientation) and have their ballot read back to them in lieu of the visual check done by non-visually impaired voters.

The majority of touch screen machines which produce a voter-verifiable paper record either print the record on a toilet-paper-like roll which remains inside the touch screen machine and is viewable through a small window, or prints an ATM-like receipt which is ejected or torn from the touch screen machine’s printer. How can people with visual impairments verify their votes on these touch screen machines? Read the Entire Article

Voting Security Attacked In Court Again
by Cindy Cohn, Electronic Frontier Foundation - August 3, 2006

This article appeared on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Deep Links Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

Here we go again. Despite all of our efforts to dispel the false dichotomy between secure voting and accessible voting, a shrinking but vocal minority of the disability rights community continues to take steps to prevent more secure voting by claiming that it will violate the rights of the disabled. They've now filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco, called PVA v. McPherson, to try to turn back the clock -- and force Californians back into insecure, inauditable voting systems. This argument was wrong when it was rejected by a federal judge in 2004 and it's still wrong now.

Since 2004, the nation has awakened to the problems with electronic voting machines. We've slowly recognized the need for voting systems that are transparent and that allow for trustworthy and complete audits and recounts. The fact that Las Vegas slot machines are infinitely more secure than our voting systems is now widely known, and the movement to remedy that problem is growing stronger with each botched election. EFF represented the Handicapped Voters of Volusia County (HAVOC) in Florida, filing a brief there to insist that their voting systems have a paper trail. They wanted to make sure their votes were counted as cast too.

Our favorite current solution is the new generation of optical scan systems, led by the AutoMARK, that are broadly accessible to voters with disabilities. Another option is the voter verified paper trail attached to DRE electronic voting systems. The current crop of paper trail machines still has serious problems, and we still have much additional work to do to ensure verified voting, but these systems are still better than DREs with no paper trail at all. Yet the suit filed yesterday would push California back to those insecure, paperless DREs.

EFF and a broad coalition of voting activists will likely participate in the PVA v. McPherson case, as we did in the one in 2004, to point out, once again, that secure, accessible voting can and should be our shared goals.

People With Disabilities Set Up For Failure In Vote-PAD Testing In California
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - July 27, 2006

Voters To Hold Press Conference Before Public Hearing In Sacramento On Wednesday

This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

Vote-PAD is a low-tech, voting assistive device that was developed with input from the disabilities community. Because it is inexpensive to purchase and maintain, Vote-PAD is a threat to electronic voting systems. Vote-PAD also makes voting a possibility for a wider range of voters with disabilities than do almost all of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) or touch-screen voting systems.

Even though some northern California counties had already purchased Vote-PAD for use in their elections as their HAVA compliant voting system for voters with disabilities; the Secretary of State decided that they would have to certify Vote-PAD for use with the optical-scan systems that are in use in each of the user counties.

The state then wrote a test plan that was totally unfair to the voters with disabilities who were expected to test the Vote-PAD. The state did not use a Human Factors Usability Testing Expert, an expert in writing test procedures for disabilities access. Instead they wrote a procedure that would have been better suited to testing a computerized voting system and they appear to have done this without really understanding how voters with disabilities actually use the device.

It is important to note that the state of California has certified for use many voting systems produced by Sequoia, Elections Systems and Software, Diebold, and Hart Intercivic. These devices have been certified by the state as being HAVA compliant and usable by voters with disabilities. Yet, not one of the electronic voting systems has been tested specifically by the disabilities community or even advocates for that community. Instead, a cursory inspection was made by unqualified staff and/or unqualified consultants and they were all accepted for use. Read the Entire Article

EAC Requests Public Comment On Draft of 2006 Election Survey
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 2, 2006

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is accepting comments on information gathering activity for the DRAFT 2006 Election Administration and Voting Survey.  Written comments must be submitted on or before Friday, September 29, 2006. The proposed survey can be downloaded in PDF format here. Specifically the EAC is requesting comments on the neccesity and utility of the information being requested in the survey and ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected.

The EAC conducts the survey as part of its role as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration as established by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Described as "the largest and most comprehensive survey of voting and election administration practices ever conducted by a U.S. government organization," The 2004 Election Day Survey was distributed to election administrators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and information was received from 6,568 election administration jurisdictions. Subjects covered included voter registraiton, ballots counted, turnout, absentees, provisional ballots, overvotes and undervotes, voting equipment usage, and polling place operations. The results of the 2004 Survey are available for download here.

The survey results, which were released in September, 2005, have been used to draw conclusions about a wide variety of election administration issues, ranging from provisional and absentee ballot procedures to voting technology. Election Data Services (EDS) was contracted to collect, review, and analyze the findings of the 2004 Survey. In an article published shortly after the release of the survey results, Michael McDonald and Kimball Brace of EDS cautioned "While the Election Day Survey holds promise to inform us about voters' election experiences and the administration of elections, the survey also reveals continuing challenges." Read the Entire Article

From Around the States

Alabama: Judge Gives Responsibility For State Database To Governor
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 6, 2006

In an extraordinary move, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins has given Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (pictured at right) the title of "special master" and placed him in charge of developing an overdue statewide voter registration database. The decision was over the objections of Democratic Secretary of State Nancy Worley and the Alabama Democratic Conference. The request of the Justice Department to move the responsibility for the voter database to a partisan elected official is unusual. Typically, the government would seek an order telling a state official what to do, or it would ask to have a nonpartisan person appointed as a special master.

Alabama is one of several states that have missed the deadline for implementing a statewide voter registration database and the Department of Justice (DoJ) has taken strikingly different approaches to the state’s that are not yet in compliance. Riley was given until Aug. 31, 2007 to set up the statewide voter registration database. A statement from Gov. Riley was quoted in an Associated Press article "The appointment of a special master is not something I sought, but I accept the judge's appointment and will work in a non-partisan manner to make Alabama compliant with the law. It's inexcusable that our state isn't already compliant."

The contentious hearing on Wednesday in which deep and long-standing disagreements between the Governor and Secretary of state were aired, was described by the New York Times as resembling a “kangaroo court”.  The Justice Department and the Alabama attorney general, Troy King, both argued that Governor Riley should control the voter database. Mr. King, a Republican, was appointed to his job by Governor Riley after serving as his legal adviser, and when Ms. Worley (pictured at left) realized that Mr. King would not represent her interests, she asked him to let her hire a lawyer to argue her side but the judge refused. Watkins also denied motions by Democratic Party Chair Joe Turnham and Alabama Democratic Conference Chair Joe Reed to intervene in the case arguing that the porocess had proceeded in a "non-partisan" fashion in the case and that the HAVA Committee, bi-partisan and composed of 23 individuals, was the "model to implement."

In a local news report, Turnham said after the ruling that it was "predictable". "The appointment of a special master should have been a broader stakeholder group than inputted into the appointment of a special master," Turnham continued. "The party did not object to the special master appointment, to the ruling the other day. What we fear is there's been no statement of how this particular new system could impact minorities and disadvantage voters.  This is not a state where things have gone smoothly for the last half century."

In his order denying the motions of Turnham and Reed, Watkins said "the Court is not convinced that the movants have met any of the criteria as they must to become intervenors." The judge will issued a more detailed opinion later. He did allow attorney Edward Still to speak on behalf of both men at Wednesday morning's hearing. Read the Entire Article

Arkansas: Committeee Accepts Election Report's Recommendations
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 3, 2006

Election Systems and Software (ES&S) should be required reimburse Arkansas counties for expenses incurred in the states’ primary and run-off elections this Spring, according to a bipartisan Voting System Performance Review Committee. The exact costs will be determined by the Board of Election Commissioners. The committee had been tasked with reviewing a report prepared by Glenn Newkirk of Raleigh, North Carolina-based InfoSentry Inc. that was delivered last month. (Download InfoSentry report) In the report, Newkirk found that ES&S didn’t send enough workers to Arkansas until after elections finished in other states.

The report, which drew on comments from county officials, analyzed the voting system implementation for Arkansas’s primary election, outlined findings and recommendations on project background and history; project planning, organization, and management; meetings and meeting management; testing and test management; documentation management; risk management and issue tracking; and training and communications. The committee found that Election Systems & Software’s Little Rock office was understaffed and unresponsive to the counties’ needs, and delivered faulty voting-machine programming and paper ballots, often behind schedule. The flaws and late delivery also cost some counties money, forcing them to print extra ballots or hire more staff.

Arkansas signed a contract with ES&S for $ 15 million last November and $ 3. 8 million has already been paid. The balance, minus any adjustments related to the committee’s findings, is to be paid after the company reaches certain milestones, including a successful general election in November. Read the Entire Article

California: Do The Secretary of State's Voter Database Restrictions Violate Federal Law?
by California State Senator Debra Bowen Press Release - August 2, 2006

Federal Judge Blocks Implementation of Washington Law Nearly Identical To Standards Set By California's Secretary of State 

"…the Court finds that plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their argument that [Washington State law] RCW 29A.08.107 stands as an obstacle to achieving the purposes and objectives of HAVA [Help American Vote Act], and is therefore preempted by federal law."

Those are the words of U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, who on Tuesday afternoon, issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the implementation of a Washington state law preventing people from registering to vote unless the information on their voter registration form matches a record on file with the Social Security Administration or the state's Department of Licensing.

The case is relevant in California because the California Secretary of State adopted regulations to implement an agreement with the Bush Administration's Justice Department in 2005 that are very similar to the Washington state law the court put on hold yesterday afternoon.  It's not known how many Californians may have been prevented from registering or re-registering to vote prior to the June primary or how many are still experiencing problems as they attempt to register in time for the
November election.

"That ruling tells me there's a very good chance the regulations the Secretary of State adopted to implement his agreement with the Bush Administration violate federal law and the state Constitution because of the barriers they put up to prevent eligible Californians from registering to vote," said California State Senator Debra Bowen, the chairwoman of the Senate Elections, Reapportionment & Constitutional Amendments Committee and the Senate Select Committee on the Integrity of Elections. "We'll never know how many people were prevented from voting in the June primary thanks to the Secretary of State's regulations. The general election less than 100 days away, meaning it's time for him to change his regulations to make sure no eligible voter who wants to register is turned away because they're not on some bureaucratic list." Read the Press Release

New Voters With Disabilities Suit in California
by Joseph Hall, Univeristy of California, Berkeley - August 3, 2006

This article was posted on Joesph Hall's Not Quite A Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 

As Dan Tokaji and Cindy Cohn point out, a lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by advocates of people of disabilities against the Secretary of State in California and seven counties in California (See " Disability Rights Suit Over California Voting Equipment" and "Voting Security Attacked In Court Again"). Here is a searchable (OCR'd) version of that complaint.

Dan does a great job of summarizing the suit so I'll try not to be redundant with what he said. I do want to point out a few things that I found interesting.

First, it is interesting to note which counties are not named as defendants in the suit. A quick glance at the Secretary of State's list of voting systems used by each county in California's recent primary election shows that there are counties that meet the exact criteria of some of the defendants but that were not named. None of the twenty counties using the Sequoia AVC Edge DRE with VVPAT or the four counties using the Hart eSlate DRE with VVPAT were included despite the fact that neither of these systems read the contents of the VVPAT record to voters with visual disabilities. The suit names only three out of the eleven counties that used the AutoMARK for HAVA compliance. It also only names Alameda county as having violated HAVA by using the VVPAT-enabled version of the DESI AccuVote-TSx when there are ten other counties that used the same model (including the largest, Los Angeles County, where presumably many voters with visual and manual disabilities reside). The plaintiffs fault Yolo county for not having an accessible system at all, which Dan notes is a serious issue of HAVA non-compliance.1 However, the suit also claims in paragraph 13 that six other counties were in the same situation but does not name these counties as defendants (and the suit neglects to mention Nevada county which also had to rely on HAVA-non-compliant optical scanners). I'm unsure as to why the plaintiffs chose this particular set of defendants and didn't simply list every single county in California as violating their reading of the accessibility provisions of HAVA.

A second issue that Dan mentions concerns whether there exists a private right of action under HAVA. If the court finds that there is no private right of action, four out of the five claims -- the HAVA-specific ones -- will be moot. Dan points out that the 6th Circuit has ruled in Sandusky County Democratic Party v. Blackwell that there is no such private right of action under section 302 of HAVA. However, the accessibility provisions are from section 301 of HAVA, which broadly requires states to meet a minimum set of standards for voting technologies used in federal elections. Read the Entire Article

Guest Editorial: Count the Vote in CA-50
by John Bonifaz, founder National Voting Rights Institute - August 3, 2006

I join the growing numbers of citizens across this country who are declaring "no confidence" in the machine tally results of the special election held on June 6, 2006, for the 50th Congressional District in California. I further join their call for a full hand-count of both the paper ballots and the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail in that election.

We face today a crisis in public confidence in the integrity of our elections. This crisis threatens the foundation of our democracy. Now more than ever, we must return to a basic truth: In order for voters to trust the outcome of our elections, they must be able to trust that their votes are properly counted.

It is clear that too many voters in California's 50th Congressional District do not trust that their votes have been properly counted in the June 6, 2006 special election.

In the wake of Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, we must stand up and prevent further erosion of the public's trust in our democracy. Following the November 2004 election, I went to Ohio and led the fight in the federal courts for a full recount of the presidential vote in that state - a recount that Ohio election officials resisted and ultimately refused to conduct in a manner consistent with the due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Read the Entire Article

Connecticut To Use Paper Ballot Voting System
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 4, 2006

Secretary of State's Decision To Buy Diebold AccuVote Puts Connecticut's Mandatory Audit Provision In Question 

An Associated Press article is reporting that Connecticut will be replacing its lever machines this November with a Diebold AccuVote Optical Scanners. The state will meet the federal requirements for disabled accessibility with the Inspire Vote-By-Phone system provided by IVS of Louisville, KY. The IVS system will also be used in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Oklahoma, and individual jurisdictions in other states.

Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced today that she has entered into a $15 million contract with LHS Associates of Methuen, Mass. At the announcement on Friday, Bysiewicz studiously avoided naming Diebold, LHS supplies only Diebold equipment so it is clear that Diebold’s equipment will be used. Just a week ago the Secretary of State had declined to give any details of the technology being conidered, telling the New Britain Herald "I'd love to tell you about the technology, but we're still sorting out the details." Bysiewicz also noted that local registrars of voters will have the choice of using the machines in the November election or the 2007 election.

Bysiewicz said her office decided against purchasing touch screen voting machines after hearing concerns from thousands of citizens, academics and advocacy groups about problems with the devices. "Touch-screen technology, in its current state of development, is simply not ready for 'prime time' here in Connecticut," she said.

Election activist were quick to notice that the choice of a paper ballot optical scan voting system was not anticipated when the state's election reform legislation S.B.55; Public Act 05-188; was signed into law on July 1, 2005. The law required that "not later than five business days after each election in which a direct recording electronic voting machine is used, the registrars of voters or their designees, representing at least two political parties, shall conduct a manual audit of the votes recorded on at least two direct recording electronic voting machines used in each assembly district." Optical scanners, of course, are not direct recording electronic voting machines. The possibility of a special session of the state legislature may offer the opportunity to address the audit issue. Otherwise it may have to wait until January. Read the Entire Article

Maine: Department of Justice Announces Agreement On State's HAVA Compliance
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 2, 2006

Maine Third State To Be Sued For Failure To Meet HAVA Deadlines

The Justice Department announced last week that it has reached an agreement with Maine officials that will help to ensure full access to voting for Maine's citizens with disabilities and to protect the accuracy and integrity of Maine's statewide voter registration list in accordance with the provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

The agreement, which must be approved by the federal district court in Maine, requires the state to provide each polling place with a voting system that is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. The agreement also requires the state to develop a centralized statewide database and to begin conducting a program of list maintenance.

To meet HAVA’s Accessible Voting Solution requirement, the State of Maine recently selected the IVS Vote-By-Phone System to help individuals with disabilities vote with privacy and independence. The same system has been adopted in Vermont, New Hampshire, and some counties in Oregon and Oklahoma. Read the Entire Article

Missouri: Second Lawsuit Filed Against Voter ID Law
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 6, 2006

A lawsuit has been filed in Cole County Circuit Court seeking a preliminary injunction to block implementation of a new state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification. The plaintiffs argue that the new requirements could discourage or prevent people from voting in November.

The suit was filed by a group of individuals who do not have photo identification cards. Don Downing (pcitured at right), a St. Louis-based lawyer representing the plaintiffs was quoted in a Columbia Tribune article "There are a lot of people adversely affected if this law is allowed to go into effect. They include the poor, elderly, handicapped and women." Under current law, voters can use other forms of identification, such as college IDs, a copy of a utility bill or a bank statement as well as cards issued by local election authorities.

The lawsuit contends that "This requirement imposes an unnecessary, unauthorized and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote of at least 170,000 registered Missouri voters who do not currently possess a photo ID." A separate lawsuit was filed last month, Democrats in St. Louis and Kansas City filed a lawsuit claiming the law unconstitutionally imposes costs on local governments without providing state funding.

The Missouri General Assembly passed the law, SB 1014 in the last week of this year’s legislative session after a contentious Senate debate in which Democrats mounted a filibuster to block the bill. The Republican-controlled Senate approved a rarely used motion to cut off debate and forced its passage.

Supporters say the law is necessary to safeguard the state’s election process and to prevent fraud. They also say it’s not difficult for people to obtain state-issued photo ID cards. Republicans generally support the law, while Democrats oppose it.

Tennessee: Voting Machine Failures And Long Ballots Create Delays And Uncertainty
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 7, 2006

The Nashville Tennessean is reporting that “voting machine foul-ups across the state during the primary election last Thursday are sparking concerns that problems may not be worked out by the general election in November.” The combination of voting machine problems and the longest ballot in state history resulted in long lines at polling places in many counties. Many voters chose the option of voting on paper ballots to avoid the lines.

Several races are still undecided in Williamson County, where election officials reportedly got two different vote totals and are trying to reconcile them for a final count. Williamson election registrar Ann Beard said results that were reported at 9:09 p.m. Thursday did not match results reported at 2 a.m. Friday. "It's more than likely a problem with the software or human error," Beard said.

One of the candidates whose election is in question, County Commissioner Mary Mills, when faced with the two different voters counts commented "I thought I'd won, then this morning it doesn't look like that. I want to be the one that wins, but if I don't there's nothing I can do about it."

Deborah Narrigan, with the Tennessee election integrity organization called Gathering to Save our Democracy observed "It's a real problem. There's no paper trail, no paper ballot for voters to look at. I don't know if there are any problems or mistakes. No one will ever know. I'm concerned about future elections. Voters need confidence their votes will be counted."

State election director and Election Center board member Brook Thompson, a staunch advocate for electronic voting technology was quick to downplay the problems. "We were faced with the longest ballot in state history because of the eight-year judicial cycle," said Thompson. "I know we just put new voting equipment in a lot of our counties and that may have added a little bit to it. It didn't help that the first election we're using a lot of this new voting equipment is the biggest election in Tennessee state history. That's bad luck."

Washington: Federal Judge Strikes Down Restrictive Registration Rules
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 2, 2006

Download the Decision Here 

A federal district judge in Seattle today blocked enforcement of a Washington state law enacted earlier this year that would have kept eligible voters off the registration rolls because of typos and minor errors. The case, brought on behalf of a coalition of voting rights groups by the Brennan Center for Justice, is the first decision to hold that any state's database matching violates the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). It could have far-reaching consequences as it could be used in other states as an avenue for challenging restrictive registration rules or other barriers to voting.

The case, Washington Association of Churches, et al. v. Reed (case no. C06-0726RSM), focused on a “no match, no vote” provision that took effect on Jan. 1, 2006. This law (RCW 29A.08.107) directed Secretary of State Sam Reed to compare driver's licenses, state identification cards or Social Security numbers on registration forms with records from state and federal agencies to ensure that a voters' information matches. The state enacted the law in response to HAVA, which requires states to keep accurate voter lists by matching names and driver's license or Social Security numbers with those in existing databases. But under the act, the right to vote does not hinge on such a match.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez’s opinion concerning the effect of the "match" requirement explained that “the Court does not consider a person’s right to vote a mere ‘detail’ to be so easily dismissed.”  The judge also ruled that the state law was in violation of a provision of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from denying the vote based on an "error or omission on any record or paper" relating to registration. After noting the closeness of Washington’s 2004 governor’s race, Judge Martinez stated that “the public interest weighs strongly in favor of letting every eligible resident of Washington register and cast a vote. ”Read the Entire Article

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