Election Integrity News - August 15, 2006
This Week's Quote: "Our election laws should not be a matter of political calculation but a preservative of our most precious right, the right to vote." U.S. Representative James Langevin of Rhode Island
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
National Coalition for Election Integrity
For almost a year VoteTrustUSA has provided this weekly newsletter free of charge to election officials, legislators, and concerned citizens in every state in the nation. Each week we collect news and commentary on issues and events that are effecting how our votes are cast and counted. VoteTrustUSA does not sell advertising space on our website and is entirely depend entirely on individual contributions. Thank you for your concern about the integrity of our elections and thank you for your support of VoteTrustUSA
|Raphael Bear's Testimony Against HR 5913
by Raphael Bear, President, Intertribal Council of Arizona - August 12, 2006
The following testimony was presented at the Committee on House Adminbistration field hearing "Securing the Vote" in Tucson, Arizona on August 3, 2006.
Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers, Good evening and welcome to Arizona. I am Raphael Bear, President of the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation and President of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. an organization of 20 American Indian governments here in Arizona.
I am glad to have this opportunity to speak to the H.R. 5913, the Voter Integrity Protection Act of 2006, introduced in the House of Representatives on July 26, 2006. I believe that H.R. 5913 will inflect violence to the principles of freedom and equality and erect major barriers to the right of American Indian citizens to register to vote and to vote in this country. A similar law was passed here in Arizona as proposition 200 in the last election. This proposition is proving to be a major barrier for many American Indian people to register to vote and to vote.
In 1948, two Yavapai men from my reservation won a ruling by the Supreme Court of Arizona that recognized the right of Indian people to vote. Since that time progress has been made in registering Indian people to vote and Indian people exercising their right to vote by going to the polls on Election Day.
Arizona Proposition 200, which is now law, and the proposed H.R. 5913 will greatly affect the progress that has been made toward encouraging Indian people to vote. Many Indian people, especially elders, don’t have birth certificates, driver’s licenses or two forms of Tribal identification.
Special regulations for identification for Indian people were included in the implementation regulations for Proposition 200 because it was realized the law imposed requirements on Indian people that would hinder their right to register to vote and to vote at the polls.
However, the special regulations do not resolve the problems of identification and proof of citizenship as Tribal identification documents are different, contain different information such as some not having a photograph, others may, and some Tribes not having a Tribal identification card at all. Also, the uncertainty about what is acceptable ID for American Indians will prove to be extremely confusing for the poll workers. A provisional ballot which may or may not be issued based on what a poll worker may accept as ID may or may not in the end be counted, again, based on misunderstanding by the poll worker of whether the person should or should not be issued a provisional ballot. Further, the person issued the provisional ballot may need to make a trip to the county recorders’ office to substantiate proof of identification. For most American Indian citizens who reside on the reservations this trip could mean several hours of driving because county records offices for many American Indian voters are many miles away. The other forms of acceptable identification are also impediments. Indian citizens living on reservations may not have phone services, so there would not be a phone bill, may not have utility bills and will not have a property tax notification. Read the Entire Testimony
|New Election Auditing Protocol Proposed
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 12, 2006
In a newly released paper, “Random Auditing of E-Voting Systems: How Much is Enough?”, Howard Stanislevic argues that “Auditing protocols proposed and implemented at the federal and state levels that rely on small-percentage random sampling without replacement are unlikely to detect miscounts sufficient to change the outcome of Congressional or smaller local races, even if such races initially appear to be decided by relatively wide margins.”
While accepting that a random sample comprising a small percentage of thousands of voting systems may be adequate to confirm the outcome of all but the closest statewide races, Stansislevic recommends that a much larger percentage of systems must be audited than commonly suggested for Congressional elections. "Each race must be considered a separate auditing process taking into account the vote margin, the number of precincts in which the race appeared on the ballot and the possibility of miscounts concentrated in a relatively small number of large precincts."
Stanislevic is quick to add that he does not discourage legislation requiring routine election audits, but rather, that the limitations of such audits must be acknowledged by those who promote them so as not to engender a false sense of security. “Routine methods of error and fraud detection must be developed and employed to supplement small-percentage audits, particularly when there is no obvious trigger for additional auditing or full recounts.”
The full paper can be downloaded here in PDF format.
|Fraud Vitiates Everything It Touches: Why Diebold DREs May Have Invalid NASED Numbers
by John Washburn, VoteTrustUSA - August 9, 2006
The centuries old legal principal, Fraus omnia vitiate, “Fraud vitiates everything” renders the following NASED qualification numbers
null and void. Thus, for Wisconsin and 37 other states, these Diebold
systems identified by the qualification numbers above are not certified for
use in the state because the required, legally valid NASED qualification number
may not exist. In particular, the certifications for systems N-1-06-22-22-001
and N-1-06-22-22-004 are may be void in Wisconsin.
On Thursday, August 3, 2006 a three year investigation came to the conclusion that Diebold committed fraud against Wyle Labs in order to obtain valuable qualification numbers from the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) Voting Systems Board (VSB). It appears that over a period of several years, Diebold and its corporate predecessor, Global Election Systems, knowingly and repeatedly withheld from review source code to the several versions of WinCE (Windows Compact Edition) used in the touch screen DRE’s manufactured by the company. Such source code review is required under both the 1990 and 2002 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines in Section 7.4 and Volume I Section 1.6; respectively.
For the details of the alleged fraud, I would refer you to the article by Jim March and the accompanying Declaration by Dr. Lee. The thumbnail sketch of this story is that Talbot Iredale, V.P. for Research and Development for Diebold specifically instructed subordinates to not turn over the WinCE source code to Wyle Lab for the required source code reviews and further he instructed his subordinates: “We do not want to get Wyle reviewing and certifying the operating systems. Therefore can we keep to a minimum the references to the WnCE 3.0 operating system?” The second half of the story is that Diebold took advantage of the bovine lack of curiosity exhibited by Wyle Labs and Ciber, Inc. Both labs have stated that anything Diebold declared as "commercial off the self" (COTS) software, they treated as COTS software without any verification as to whether the software was or was not in fact COTS. Read the Entire Article
See also "Diebold May Have Defrauded The Federal Certification Process"
|SEC Opens Formal Invesitgation Into Diebold
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 10, 2006
Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has begun a formal investigation into how Diebold recognizes revenue. In a public filing in May, Diebold has acknowledged that SEC staff had begun an informal inquiry but the company’s latest filing on July 27 reported that the investigation had been converted into a formal nonpublic investigation.
SEC investigations typically begin as informal inquiries. A formal inquiry is one in which the commission authorizes the staff to look at whether laws have been broken and carries the power to subpoena witnesses and documents.
Though both Diebold spokesman Mike Jacobsen and SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment on the investigation, it was clear that the focus of the inquiry relates to Diebold's election division, Diebold Election Systems, Inc. Read the Entire Article
|Some Statewide Databases Lacking In Privacy Safeguards
by Mindy Moretti, electionline.org - August 10, 2006
Incidents could portend widespread 'compromised security'
This article was published in the electionline.org newsletter. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
When the Denver Election Commission (DEC) moved to new offices in February, a cabinet containing the registration information for 150,000 voters was left behind and ultimately disappeared.
Although the Commission has back-ups of the voter registrations from 1989 to 1995 that disappeared, the missing records contained everything from voters' names and Social Security numbers to birth dates, signatures and addresses, much of what an identity thief would need to cause havoc.
"We still don't have any reason to believe that it was, quote unquote stolen," Alton Dillard, commission spokesman told the Denver Post at the time. But given that the cabinet is missing, Dillard said, "we will be . letting them (voters) know that they probably ought to take that step of placing alerts on their accounts."
In early 2006, a Washington, D.C. television station conducted an investigation into the availability of personal information on voter records at the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The investigation found that the personal information, including Social Security numbers of thousands of voters was easily available to the public. The station was even able to obtain the personal information of Mayor Anthony Williams and members of the city council. Read the Entire Article
|NASS Launches National Voter Education Campaign
by National Association of Secretaries of State - August 15, 2006
CanIVote.org Offers An Online Step-Bt-Step Guide To Voting In All 50 States
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) today launched the first-ever national voter education campaign to provide eligible voters from all 50 states with the information they need to cast their ballots in 2006 – all on one Web site. The campaign’s centerpiece, www.canivote.org, is a one-stop shop that provides voters with step-bystep instructions for voting no matter where in the United States they live.
The Can I Vote? Campaign is designed to help answer the two questions voters most often asked in 2004, according to data collected by the Election Protection hotline: “Am I registered to vote?” and “Where is my polling place?”
"Now, instead of having to search the Internet for voting information, voters can just visit one Web site to find links to all of the information they’ll need to prepare themselves for the 2006 elections,” said NASS President and Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz (pictured at right). “Who better than the nation’s chief state election officials to provide answers to voters’ questions and to make voting as simple as possible?”
The Campaign Web site provides links to online voter registration lookup tools and polling place locators on state and local Web sites. It also includes an interactive directory of local election officials. The Campaign and its Web site will also provide additional information voters need, including the voter registration deadlines and polling place hours for every state and each state's voter identification requirements. Read the Entire Article
From Around the States
Alabama Congressman Challenges Department of Justice Decision
“This is the kind of situation where the court should bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of partisan politics."
U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL 7th, pictured at right) has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to re-examine a Justice Department suit that led to Republican Gov. Bob Riley being put in charge of a state voter registration database, replacing Democratic Secretary of State Nancy Worley, as he leads the GOP ticket on the November ballot. Federal District Judge Keith Watkins last week named Riley to be "special master" in charge of developing the registration database, as required by the Help America Vote Act, a move recommended by the Justice Department.
In a letter delivered yesterday, Davis also asked why the Department had not sought similar relief in other instances where states have failed to comply with their obligations under HAVA and also mentioned Voting Rights Act violations. Both New York and Maine face lawsuits for failure to meet the January 1, 2006 deadlines mandated by HAVA but several other states are not yet in compliance. “It is also striking that in no instance has the Department of Justice under the Bush Administration ever sought such an aggressive intervention in a state’s election process,” noted Davis. “Numerous claims of violations by states under Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and even more numerous allegations of violations under HAVA have not provoked your Department to ever seek to strip a state constitutional officer of his or her legal authority. In fact, none of the various other states that have failed to maintain computerized voter databases have merited the kind of relief sought and obtained in Alabama.”
According to an Associated Press article, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Cynthia Magnuson, declined to comment specifically on Davis's letter to Gonzalez, saying department officials had not read it. But she denied that the department's motives in the case were political.
"This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with coming into compliance with the law," Magnuson said. Read the Entire Article
Alaska: Touch Screen Voting
Too Risky For Upcoming Elections
Diebold's Federal Certification May Not Be Valid
The Division of Elections should not use Diebold touch screen voting machines in upcoming elections due to reports that Diebold fraudulently obtained certification, the Alaska Democratic Party said today.
Alaska's electronic voting machine vendor, Diebold Elections Systems, may have defrauded the federal certification process for its touch screen voting machines by withholding source code from review, according to a report published by Vote Trust USA, a national non-partisan, non-profit group devoted to ensuring the integrity of elections.
Under Alaska law, voting machines and vote tally systems must be in compliance with the voting system standards approved by the Federal Election Commission before they can be used in a state election.
Given the potential that Diebold’s touch screen machines depend on software
that has been reviewed by no one except Diebold, and the potential that federal
certification requirements have not been met, the Democratic Party urged the
Division of Elections not to use its Accuvote TSx touch screen machines in the
Read the Entire Article
|Arizona: Brennan Center Commends Pima Co. For Implementing Security Procedures For Electronic Voting
by Brennan Center for Justice - August 10, 2006
The Brennan Center
for Justice at NYU School of Law has commended the Pima County Board of
Supervisors (AZ) for adopting rigorous security procedures for electronic voting
machines being deployed for the first time in September's primary election.
Pima County's action comes less then two months after the Brennan Center's Task Force on Voting System Security released a report and policy proposals concluding that all three of the nation's most commonly purchased electronic voting systems are vulnerable to software attacks that could threaten the integrity of a state or national election. Pima County's security newly enacted security protocols follow many of the security recommendations of the Task Force's report.
"As electronic voting machines become the norm on Election Day, voters are more and more concerned that these machines are susceptible to fraud," said Michael Waldman (pictured at left), the Brennan Center's Executive Director. "These machines are vulnerable to attack. That's the bad news. The good news is that jurisdictions like Pima County are taking steps to protect the vote and reduce the risks of software attacks."
Last week, after authorizing the purchase of the Diebold TS-X touch-screen voting machines to comply with the Help America Vote Act's requirement for a private and independent voting experience for people with disabilities, the Pima County Board of Supervisors announced
security procedures to minimize the threat of a software attack against these machines. According to Pima County's Office of Strategic Technology Planning, the back panels of the machines will be sealed to prevent tampering and no wireless connections will be used in
conjunction with the machines. The Board of Supervisors also announced that they would require a routine random audit of all electronic votes to ensure their accuracy.
"Counties across the State of Arizona and the country have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that people with disabilities can cast secret ballots in privacy," stated Lawrence Norden, Chair of the Brennan Center Task Force on Voting System Security and co-author of a forthcoming Brennan Center report on voting system accessibility. "They also have a responsibility to ensure that those votes are accurately recorded, and not at risk from programming errors or software or other attacks." Read the Press Release
|Vote-PAD Defends Itself
In Public Hearing In California
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - August 9, 2006
Vote-PAD's President Explains The Flaws in The State's Test Plan and Certification Process
See also "California SoS Office Engaged In Smear Campaign Against Vote-PAD"
As reported previously the state of California unfairly treated voters with disabilities in the testing of the Vote-PAD, a voting assistive device designed specifically for use by voters with disabilities and successfully tested and used by those voters across the country. The fact that the staff of the Secretary of State of California used shoddy test procedures and then recommended denial of certification, based on those test procedures, of the Vote-PAD is certainly questionable. Why haven't other voting systems, that purport to be accessible, been tested by the disabilities community at all?
As reported earlier, today is the public hearing for the Vote-PAD. Ellen Theisen, President and Founder of Vote-PAD has testified about the problems with the test procedure. In her testimony she referred to accompanying testimony from Valerie Rice, PhD., CPE, OTR/L, whose PhD is in "Human Factors Engineering (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) with a specialization in Human Factors Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and masters degrees in both Occupational Therapy (University of Puget Sound) and Health Care Administration (Baylor University). She is a Board Certified Professional Ergonomist and a liscensed and registered Occupational Therapist". In otherwords, Dr. Rice is the person who should have written the states test procedure which would have given everyone a fair and even field for making a judgment on Vote-PAD. Read the Entire Article
|California Voters File To Halt Use of Electronic Voting Machines
by Voter Action - August 8, 2006
Hearing to take place in time for November election
California voters challenging the use of Diebold touch screen voting systems
today filed a motion for preliminary injunction in San Francisco Superior Court,
asking the Court to prohibit purchase or use in California of Diebold Accuvote
TSx electronic voting machines for use in the November 2006 general election.
A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is expected on August 31,
2006. Defendants in the case are Secretary of State Bruce McPherson and elections
officials in 11 California counties. Elections officials in eight other California
counties have been dismissed from the suit, after they signed affidavits that
they will not use Diebold touch screens for the November elections.
"This case will be the first time the California Courts have looked at the evidence on the myriad defects of this touch screen electronic voting system, and its failure to satisfy state law for election security. If the California voter plaintiffs win, the Secretary must immediately decertify the problem-plagued machines, and counties will still have time to find an alternative for use in the November election," said John Eichhorst, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, and a partner at the law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco.
"This case is a powerful and well-documented challenge to the Secretary of State's certification of the Diebold touch screen machines, which is illegal because they cannot be made secure, reliable, or verifiable. Unless the Court acts to prevent it, we are headed for a train wreck in the November election," said Lowell Finley, co-counsel for the plaintiffs and co-director of Voter Action. Read the Entire Article
Assistant Attorney General Robert Jones contended in Franklin Circuit Court that Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (pictured at right) was unauthorized to purge about 8,000 people from the state's voter registration database earlier this year. In the latest installment in an ongoing battle over the state’s voter registration database, Jones argued that Grayson needed authority from the State Board of Elections to purge the voters. The dispute stems from the purging of names from voter rolls in April.
In an April 24 press release, Grayson cited a recent episode of the fictional program West Wing in which a presidential election was temporarily in doubt due to concern of voter fraud based on citizens voting in multiple states, in part, because those states could not share voter registration data with each other. Grayson went on to announce that Kentucky was one of four initial states to take proactive steps to prevent such fraud. Working initially with South Carolina and Tennessee, Grayson was able to determine that no voters registered in multiple states actually voted in Kentucky and another state. However, he was quick to add that this was “not slowing down Kentucky’s efforts to continue this cleaning of the registration rolls.”
voter purge was immediately challenged by the Attorney General Greg Stumbo (pictured
at left). “The right to vote is our most precious liberty,” said
Stumbo in a
May 11 press release. “We all want to fight fraud, but we must
also protect legitimate voters who want to have their voices heard at the polls.”
The Attorney General asserted that such a systematic purge must be completed
more than 90 days before a primary election. The State Board of Elections and
the Secretary of State agreed
to a compromise in which an eligible voter whose name was purged could prove
his or her residency, sign an oath and be permitted to vote.
On August 10, the Secretary of State reported that of the 8,105 people who were deleted in the spring because they had a more recent voter registration in Tennessee or South Carolina, 196 people showed up at the precinct and were permitted to vote in the primary. Shortly after the Secretary of State’s announcement, the Attorney General responded with a his own press release in which he acknowledged that “the Secretary of State has now recognized the need to notify voters that they have been purged,” but went on to note “this in no way excuses the illegality of purging voters in the first place.”
Read the Entire Article
|Maryland: Court Rules Early Voting Law Unconstitutional
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 13, 2006
Preparation For Early Voting In September Primary Continues While Plaintiffs Appeal
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth (pictured at right) ruled last week that a law passed earlier this year providing for early voting Maryland is in violation of the state constitution. In his opinion, Silkworth contends that the consitution allows voting only on a single day, not for several days and that it would be illegal to permit voters to cast ballots outside their home precincts, as allowed under the new law. Early voting became law this year when the Democratic Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
Silkworth wrote in his opinion, "The General Assembly exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the early voting statutes". The judge, however, issued a stay allowing preparations for early voting to continue until the Maryland Court of Appeals hears an appeal by the state. A hearing was expected by the end of August, according to a statement issued by the attorney general's office. Early voting was to be used for the first time in the state in the primary election set for Sept. 12.
In a Baltimore Sun article M. Albert Figinski, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, was quoted "Maryland can adopt early voting if it wants by a constitutional amendment. What it can't do, in my view and apparently the judge's view, is to do it by legislation." The article reported that Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. has already filed an appeal of the decision, and both sides say the issue will be settled by the Court of Appeals, Maryland's highest court.
The court’s decision is the latest development in an ongoing battle between the Republican Governor and the Democratic-controlled state legislature. Read the Entire Article
|Massachusetts: Still No Decision About Accessible Voting Machines
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 14, 2006
With No Signed Contract or Training Plan, Galvin Is Unconcerned Because The Voting Machines Are 'Relatively Easy To Use'
Just over a month before the state’s primary elections, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin (pictured at left) still has not decided what equipment disabled voters in his state will be using. According to a report in The Boston Globe, Galvin is "near the end of a lengthy vetting process and could order the machines within days, depending upon an outside expert's evaluation of three models." The Help America Vote Act, signed in October 2002, mandated that states provide voting systems that allow disabled voteresz to vote privately and independently by January 1, 2006.
Three voting machines were given test-runs in last November’s elections: Hart Intercivic’s eSlate was tested in Woburn, the AutoMARK, marketed by ES&S was tested in Waltham, and the Diebold TSx was tested in Watertown. Presumeably these are the three systems that were reviewed by Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University, who was hired by the state to test the equipment for security flaws and other potential problems. Shamos has finished his review, and he is expected to report back to the secretary of state's office soon.
While Galvin was doubtful that the accessible machines would be available for the September primary, he was optimistic that the machines would “almost certainly” be available in time for the Nov. 7 general election. Joseph M. Collins, chief executive of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind expressed disappointment that the equipment will not be available in September noting “It is unfortunate because the primary is when you have the most choices."
One of those choices will be for the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, and Galvin’s opponent, John Bonifaz, observed “we're weeks away from the first statewide federal election under HAVA requirements, and we have no plan in place. There is no excuse for why it's taken so long. This law has been on the books for some time." Read the Entire Article
|Pennsylvania Drops ãNo Matchä Voter Restrictions
by Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) - August 13, 2006
The State of Pennsylvania has agreed to change a flawed voter registration policy that wrongly rejected many citizens voter registration applications. ACORN leaders announced the change and praised Secretary of State Cortes at a news conference on Thursday, August 10th at the State Building.
"The state dropped its 'No Match, No Vote' policy conditioned voter registration on the inherently flawed procedure of 'database matching' and wrongly denied registration to thousands of voters," said Ali Kronley of PA ACORN.
Until recently, the Department of State had to confirm applicants' information by "matching" applicants' driver's license or Social Security numbers to the respective government database.
Pennsylvania ACORN noticed the problem as part of a program to track the status of applicants who applied to register to vote through ACORN's voter registration drive. The group then alerted the Department of State that although thousands of applicants provided correct information, they were being denied registration.
After a detailed internal review, the Department of State revised its policy and will now allow applicants who cannot be matched to become registered voters. All voters must show ID when they vote in a new polling location in Pennsylvania.
Only six other states adopted a policy similar to Pennsylvania's. A federal district court in Seattle, Wash. blocked implementation of 'No Match, No Vote' last week. U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez wrote in his August 1 opinion that the state “failed to demonstrate how an error or omission that prevents Washington state from matching an applicant’s information is material in determining whether that person is qualified to vote.” Read the Entire Article
|Tennessee: Problems with MicroVote Prompt Candidates To Call For A Revote
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 9, 2006
"There is a cloud over this and I think it needs to be lifted."
Problems with MicroVote Infinity voting machines led to long lines and delayed results in several Tennessee counties in last week's primary and candidates in at least one county are demanding a revote. MicroVote equipment was used in 45 of Tennessee’s 95 counties. They are the same machines that led caused a meltdown in Canada’s first experiment with electronic voting last November.
The Stewart-Houston Times reported that Stewart County Election Commssion member Ronnie Byrd noticed that vote totals generated by MicroVote technicians exceeded the number of voters in some districts. Apparently in cumulative reports, the early and absentee votes were being added in twice. The technician eventually managed to generate the ‘correct’ results, which were double-checked by entering the totals into a spreadsheet.
"The new machines were supposed to eliminate the need for doing the spreadsheets that we used to do, but we'll be doing (backup) spreadsheets from now on," said Stewart County Administrator of Elections Nellie Anderson. "The new machines will generate a report, but it will have to agree with our spreadsheet in the future. If we ever had to go to court, we'd win because everything agrees.Just exactly can Anderson let the voters know that the totals are correct? Of course, the MicroVote Infinity doesn’t really provide more than one way to check the totals – there is no independent means of verifying that the vote totals are correct. Read the Entire Article
"It's always good to have more than one way to check the vote totals," she continued. "We have to let the voters know that the totals are correct."
|Needed: A Paper Trail For Harris County Texas
by Stan Merriman - August 13, 2006
County clerk and mayor shouldn't ignore troubling situation any longer
The following editorial appeared in the Houston Chronicle. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
A year and a half-long study of the security vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems has just been published by the Brennan Center For Justice at New York University, deploying the expertise of a panel of computer security experts, including Dr. Dan Wallach of Rice University. This seminal study recommends a regime of tests and a voter-verifiable paper trail (VVPAT). It is referring to the Hart InterCivic, Inc., electronic voting system right hereused in Harris County.
A coalition of local vote protection advocates, including the Harris County Democratic Party and People For the American Way's Election Protection Division, have been advocating these protections for our vote since the fall of 2004. Our efforts have been dismissed by the Harris County clerk with the rebuttal that "voting is a faith-based exercise." To date, they we also have been ignored by Houston Mayor Bill White, who has statutory responsibility to assure the efficacy of the voting system used in city elections. At least County Clerk Beverly Kaufman has met with our group, though neglecting to implement solutions. The mayor has not even been willing to meet. with our Committee. He has also failed to send a representative from the city to observe the failed tests on the electronic voting systems used in city elections.
So, what is the big deal?
Shouldn't we trust our election officials to "do the right thing"? The answer is yes, but only if proper measures are in place to enable them, and provided we the voters are able to verify that our votes are cast and counted as intended.
Since a major tool - access to the operational programming of the Hart system - is denied to our local election officials, we the people need reasonable assurance of the efficacy of the Hart voting system. Read the Entire Article
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