Election Integrity News - August 29, 2006
This Week's Quote: "Just because [the votes are] not being uploaded doesn't mean they're not being recorded accurately." Whitney Brewster, Alaska Division of Elections Director.
In this issue ...
News From Around the States
|"Off with Their Heads!"
Cried the Queen of Hearts
by Ellen Theissen, Vote-PAD, Inc. -August 29, 2006
"How am I to get in?" asked Alice again, in a louder tone.
"Are you to get in at all?" said the Footman. "That's the first question, you know."
It was a Queen of Hearts sort of a day in California on August 9, 2006. The Secretary of State's advisory panel was hearing public comments regarding the pending certification of the Vote-PAD, a non-electronic assistive device designed to help voters with disabilities mark and verify a paper ballot independently.
Voting integrity advocates held signs supporting the certification of Vote-PAD. They told of countless failures of computerized voting systems. They spoke about recent discoveries of easily hackable "back doors" into the vote totals on those systems, which have been certified. By contrast, "Vote-PAD is no more hackable than a #2 pencil," said one.
Notwithstanding this and the letters praising the Vote-PAD from dozens of people with visual and motor disabilities, the Secretary of State's staff was recommending against certifying the Vote-PAD for use in California. The Queen started by describing the testing process, "We asked them to vote independently on the Vote-PAD, and we told them exactly what to do the entire time."
"Excuse me," said Alice, "but how is that
"That's not the point," said the Queen. "The point is that they weren't able to vote independently."
"But you didn't let them," objected Alice.
"Don't be impertinent," said the King.
"Yes!" murmured the jury.
"Let's be clear on one thing," spoke the Queen.
"When disabled people tried to vote on the Vote-PAD, their error rate was
unacceptably high and they took an excessively long time."
"Compared to what?" asked one of the jurors.
"Nothing," said the Queen. "Nothing at all. We have no standards."
"They've begun asking riddles," thought Alice. "--I believe I can guess that," she added, aloud.
"What was the error rate on the voting systems you've approved, and how long did people take to vote on them?" asked Alice.
"We haven't used people with disabilities to test the other systems," said the Queen. "We know nothing about that."
"Nothing whatever?" asked a voting integrity advocate.
"Nothing whatever," said the Queen.
Read the Entire Article
|Brennan Center Report
Finds Improvements in New Voting Technology Being Implemented in Several
by Brennan Center Press Release - August 28, 2006
Full Usability Report
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, today released a report and policy proposals, concluding that two of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems today are better at recording voter intentions than older systems like the punchcard system used in Florida in 2000. At the same time the report faulted one electronic voting system under consideration in New York and in use in parts of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee that continues to unduly hamper voters’ ability to easily and accurately cast a ballot for their preferred candidate without undue burden, confusion and delay.
“Ever since the words ‘butterfly ballot’ and ‘hanging chad’ entered the American lexicon in November, 2000 it’s been clear that we need to do more to ensure that voters can easily cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice and make sure their vote is actually counted as intended,” stated Michael Waldman, the Brennan Center’s Executive Director.
The Brennan Center report, The Machinery of Democracy: Usability of Voting Systems, examines, among other things, the extent to which current voting systems correctly record voters’ intended selections, i.e., the systems’ “effectiveness.” Specifically, the report looks at the residual vote rate for each major voting system in the 2004 presidential election. The “residual vote rate” is the difference between the number of ballots cast and the number of valid votes cast in a particular contest. Residual votes thus occur as the result of undervotes (where voters intentionally or unintentionally record no selection) or overvotes (where voters select too many candidates, thus spoiling the ballot for that contest). Read the Entire Article.
|Roy Saltman Writes New Paper On Voting Integrity
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 22, 2006
Dr. Roy Saltman (pictured at right) has submitted a significant paper "Independent Verification: Essential Action to Assure Integrity in the Voting Process" to the National Institute on Standards and Technology on August 22, 2006.
Saltman has worked in the field of election policy and technology for over 30 years. His 1975 report, "Effective Use of Computing Technology in Vote-Tallying" was a seminal work expressing concerns about the accuracy and security of computerized voting systems. His 1988 report, "Accuracy, Integrity and Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying," laid the groundwork for the initial efforts of the Federal Election Commissionto develop standards for voting system. After the 2000 Presidential election, the report was widely cited in the media for its statement that "the use of pre-scored punch card ballots should be ended."
In his new paper Saltman observes that the issue of software fraud and error in computerizes voting systems arose in 1969, soon after use of computers in voting began and document control and partial recounting were recommended solutions for systems using ballots. He recommends that independent verification would reduce the fear of fraud, a continuing concern over the more than 200 years of US elections, as well as improving integrity and public confidence in correctness of reported outcomes and evaluates the widely used, current method of providing an audit trail with printouts and notes several disadvantages.
|Ray Martinez, Former EAC
Vice Chairman Joins Overseas Vote Foundation
by Overseas Vote Foundation - August 22, 2006
Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) today announced that Ray Martinez (pictured at right) will join the OVF organization as a member of the Executive Board, effective immediately. August 19, 2006 was Mr. Martinez’ last day as Vice Chairman and Commissioner at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), a bipartisan, independent federal agency, responsible for assisting state and local governments improve their federal election administration processes. Mr. Martinez’ capability in the area of election administration has served the cause of enfranchisement and reform throughout his public career.
Among several planned post-EAC activities, Mr. Martinez will launch the Martinez Consulting Group, a Texas-based firm specializing in government relations, public affairs and policy implementation for both public and private sector clients, including consulting for state and local governments on implementation of HAVA and NVRA.
Mr. Martinez intends to maintain a national voice and presence in the arena of election reform. Mr. Martinez states that, “Overseas Vote Foundation is on the cutting edge of UOCAVA innovation and their mission is one that I support. The organization’s proven nonpartisanship in the area of UOCAVA voter registration is in the best interest of the American public.”
We are truly honored to have Mr. Martinez join our board. With close elections occurring around the country, UOCAVA enfranchisement issues continue to gain attention. Mr. Martinez’ experience in election reform will allow him to lead our technical initiatives for active-duty military and overseas citizen voter enfranchisement,” stated James Brenner, Chair of Overseas Vote Foundation.From Around the States
|Alaska: Diebold Failures Mar Primary Election
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 27, 2006
Another primary election has been marred by voting technology failures. As
usual, election officials were quick to defend the technology and the integrity
of election results, eagerly dismissing any concerns. According to an Associated
Press article problems with Alaska's Diebold TSx touchscreen voting machines
forced elections officials to hand count and manually upload vote totals from
several precincts across the state. Touchscreen machines in Kodiak, Nenana,
Healy, Tok, and Unalakleet counties were unable to upload their vote totals
to the Division of Elections' central computing system.
Division of Elections Director and former Mrs. Alaska Whitney Brewster (pictured at right) noted "just because they're not being uploaded doesn't mean they're not being recorded accurately." Of course there is no reason to assume that they were recorded accurately either.
State Democratic Party spokeswoman and former state representative Kay Brown was quoted in an Ars Tecnica post "there are many systematic problems with Diebold machines that have been identified in many contexts," and feels that the occurence of "technical glitches with the machines is not surprising." Brown has been a vocal critic of Diebold's technology since a 2004 election in which a catastrophic hardware malfunction caused the company's machines to miscount votes and report inexplicable 200 percent voter turnout in just under half of Alaska's House districts.
Brown has written several articles criticizing Diebold, including one posted earlier this month on VoteTrustUSA in which she observed that Diebold's hardware may have been certified fraudulently, and is therefore illegal according to Alaska state law.
While Brewster was defending her machines Brown pointed out that the slowdown caused by the touchscreen machines is indicative of larger problems with the machines. “I can say there are many systematic problems with Diebold machines that have been identified in many contexts. That there were technical glitches with the machines is not surprising, and it’s one indication of the kinds of things that can go wrong with the machines and it’s something to be concerned about.”
|California: Election Nullification II - Speaker's Special Source
by Michael Collins, for Scoop Independent Media - August 28, 2006
Election Nullification II: Speaker of House had Special Source for Election “Certification California Assistant Secretary of State for Elections Tells House Clerk, it’s all good!
This article appeared on Scoop and is repostyed with permission of the editor.
What would you think if you heard that a Member of Congress was sworn in prior to the official certification of his hotly contested and controversial election?
Would it matter to which political party the Member of Congress belonged?
On August 25, 2006, "Scoop" revealed that there was something very wrong with Brian Bilbray’s swearing in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican Bilbray allegedly defeated Francine Busby in a close and controversial special election in California’s 50th Congressional District. There were immediate cries of foul and demands for both an investigation and a recount. The problems were well publicized before the swearing in. Read the Entire Article
|Florida: Sarasota County Moves to Block Citizens' Paper Ballot Referendum
by Kindra Muntz, Chair, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) - August 24, 2006
Over 14,500 Sarasota County voters from all parties, all precincts, and all age groups signed a petition to put a referendum on the ballot in November to amend our County charter to require voter verified paper ballots and mandatory random independent audits of election results
The ES&S (Election Systems and Software) touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines used in Sarasota County have no way to verify the accuracy of our votes in an open and transparent manner. Problems with similar DRE touchscreen machines and their central processors have resulted in tallying errors in other counties such as Miami-Dade, and in other parts of the country.
On August 22, the Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners refused to advertise the ballot ordinance, which is a requirement to put the measure on the ballot in November. Instead they filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court for a pre-election declaratory judgment on whether the language of the petition fully complies with state and federal law. Read the Entire Article
|Florida: CNN's Lou Dobbs Reports On Pinellas Co. Florida E-Voting Test Fails
by John Gideon VotersUnite.org and voteTrustUSA - August 22, 2006
Logic and Accuracy Test of The County's Sequoia Machines Fails
Click Here to View The Video
Tonight Kitty Pilgrim reports that Pinellas Co.'s voting machines passed Logic and Accuracy (L&A) Tests until a Sequoia Voting Systems technician changed some software. A subsequent test failed so the county changed the software back and re-did the test successfully. There was no report as to what caused the problem or why Sequoia tried to install software that was, very apparently, unnecessary; or was it?
The text-transcript of tonight's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full:
PILGRIM (voice-over): Pinellas County, Florida wanted to make sure its Sequoia electronic voting machines were tested and ready for the September 5th primary. They ran a controlled test knowing what the results should be. Initially, they got the correct results, but after a Sequoia technician modified the database, supposedly to upgrade it, the machines failed the next test.
LINDA MCGEEHAN, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: My concern is if — this was controlled results going in. They knew what the results were. They programmed it in. They knew what the results were going to be, and so you could compare it to something. But in an actual election, there's no controlled result. So you don't know what it's going to be. How would you know if it's incorrect or not?
PILGRIM: The modification was reversed and the system passed yet another test. According to county officials, the 3,800 machines will read almost 1,200 different ballot configurations for this election alone. The complexity of the election begs for answers.
DAVID DILL, VERIFIEDVOTING. ORG: We don't really know what happened there. I'm glad that they do fairly thorough logic and accuracy testing. As I mentioned, some places don't do that, which is just an absolute invitation to disaster. On the other hand, the observers who were present still don't have answers as to exactly what happened. Read the Entire Transcript
|Indiana: ES&S Agrees To Pay State $750,000
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 28, 2006
MicroVote Still Under Investigation
Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has announced the settlement of an enforcement proceeding concerning Election Systems & Software (ES&S) in which the voting machine vendor agreed to contribute $245,000 to help the State fund a Voting System Technical Oversight Program (VSTOP). According to the Secretary of State’s office, that program will provide counties and the State with much needed technical support in the use of election equipment and the establishment of voting system standards. In addition to the VSTOP contribution, ES&S has agreed to pay almost $500,000 to the 27 counties it had contracted with to pay for training videos, onsite support and additional services such as ballot layout assistance and voter outreach through the 2007 elections, especially for disabled voters.
The state's began investigating ES&S even before the state’s May 2 primary, when Rokita's office accused it of breaking the law by providing poor service, defective equipment, and uncertified voting system software. The problems included improperly programmed memory packs used to tally votes in machines, mistakes on ballots and missed deadlines. Later, the investigation was expanded to include problems that several Southern Indiana counties had after the polls closed for the primary. Rokita's office had frozen over $300,000 in HAVA payments to counties pending the completion of the investigation. That money now will be released.
The state still is investigating separate complaints involving Indianapolis-based MicroVote General Corp., according to Rokita.
The ES&S agreement resolves the dispute without any fines or judgments and allows ES&S to deny any criminal wrongdoing. ES&S Senior Vice President John Groh acknowledged customer service had not lived up to the company's own standards. According to an Associated Press article, Groh said ES&S had compiled a "bible" of lessons learned from the Indiana situation and was changing some of its business practices as a result. ES&S has doubled the size of its election support staff for all states, adding about 50 workers overall, and is reconfiguring its staff into teams for each state, he said. Read the Entire Article
|Thousands Will Be Disenfranchised By Missouri's New Photo ID Law
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 29, 2006
While estimates vary on the precise number of eligible Missouri voters that will be disenfranchised under Missouri’s new photo identification requirements, there seems little question that thousands will be effected. Earlier this year, Missouri joined Georgia and Indiana in requiring photo identification in order to have one's vote counted.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan initially estimated that the number of eligble voters lacking the required ID would be 240,000. A recent o Associated Press article suggests that this number may be slightly high, with a more accurate number being 170,000. Either way, that’s plenty of dienfranchisement. There has been no evidence of any significant "voter fraud" that photo ID requirements like Missouri's are indended to curb - certainly nothing to justify denying the right to vote to thousands of eligible citizens.
The new law is being challenged by the Missouri ACLU (Jackson County v. State of Missouri), and there is also a motion for a preliminary injunction pending. A provision of the state constitution, the Hancock Amendment, prohibits the imposition of financial burdens on counties without state funding and the ACLU is arguing that the State of Missouri has imposed an unfunded mandate on Missouri counties by requiring voter ID.
According to the Kansas City Star, minimal efforts are being undertaken by the Department of Revenue to provide necessary identification for disabled and elederly voters, but there seems little doubt that thousands of eligible voters will be turned away from the polls. Of course, they can still vote absentee, which requires no identification at all.
|Nevada Congressional Candidate To Challenge Primary Election Results
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 28, 2006
Republican Congressional candidate Sharron Angle (pictured at right) has aanounced that she will challenge the results of her August 15 primary loss to Secretary of State Dean Heller in the hope of nullifying the election and holding a re-vote. Official results gave Heller a 421 margin of victory in the contest to choose a candidate to run against Democrat Jill Derby for Nevada’s Second District congressional seat, currently held by gubernatorial hopeful Jim Gibbons.
At a press conference in Reno on Friday, Angle said that rather than requesting a recount, she would challenge the election results in district court "based on errors in the voting process," which she maintained "clouded the outcome of the election to the point that the true winner is unknown."
"In this situation, the voters do not know who would have received the majority of votes if errors did not occur," said Angle. "Out of respect for the will of the people and their right to vote, I am obligated to contest the outcome of this election and request a special election."
According to an article in the Nevada Appeal, Elections Deputy Ellick Hsu said Nevada's 17 county elections officials estimated costs totaling $115,000 to do the recount and Sequoia Voting Systems, which manufactured and programmed the machines, said it would charge $175,000 - a total of $290,000. This money would need to be deposited by Angle campaign before a recount would be conducted.
The cost of a re-vote would be significantly more and would be borne by the counties effected. While the total cost is unknown, Washoe county registrar of Voters Dan Burke estimated that the cost would be $400,000 in his county alone. Read the Entire Article
|Ohio: Election Science Institute Report
by Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University - August 28, 2006
This article was posted on Avi Rubin's blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.
About a week ago, the Election Science Institute released a report analyzing the performance of a DRE with a VVPAT in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The report appears to me to be well written and the study well thought out. It has also generated a lot of chatter on the Internet. I have found on some "pro paper trail" mailing lists that I am on that people have used this report to show that DREs are error prone, and that the paper is more important than ever. Groups such as Voters Unite produced reports to that effect (e.g. this one). Likewise, people who might be categorized as "anti paper trail", such as Dan Tokajo at Ohio State, have used this report to criticize VVPAT (see Tokajo's blog entry).
I find it interesting that different people on different sides of the issue
have used this report to back up the claims they've been making all along. One
thing that is absolutely clear to me, and something I believe pretty much everybody
would agree on is that such studies are extremely valuable, and we need more
I will take this opportunity, as I have in the past, to respectfully disagree with Dan Tokaji, although not entirely. I will concede that the machines used in this study clearly did not implement an ideal paper audit trail. In fact, if you read the study, it is pretty clear that there were many faults with the paper audit trail. Where I part ways with Tokaji's is in his conclusions. I do not believe that the concept of a voter verified paper audit trail should be thrown out just because there was a poor implementation of it. In fact, if you consider a ballot marking system, where there is no electronic tally, such a system qualifies as a VVPAT, and would by its nature avoid many of the problems that arose in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Read the Entire Article
|Ohio: Cuyahoga Officials Attack Their Vendor - No Not Diebold; Election Sciences Institute
by John Gideon, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA - August 24, 2006
Election Science Institute (ESI) of San Francisco, California was paid $341,000 by Cuyahoga Co., OH to investigate why the county had so many problems with their voting system in the May 2006 election. Were the problems really all human or were the machines at fault? ESI finally issued a report last week that had plenty of blame to go around between poll worker training problems to voting machines that could not add votes and, in a few cases, machines that registered no votes at all.
Of course Diebold Elections Systems Inc. immediately denied that there were any voting machine problems at all as they blamed all problems on voters, poll workers, and election administrators. As reported earlier, they also received nearly instantaneous assistance from outside sources who obfuscated in their reporting of the problems singling out the problems with the voter verified paper audit trail and ignoring everything else that was in the report.
Now county elections officials seem to have decided that they don't like the results from the investigation done by ESI so they are throwing ESI under the bus while they run to defend Diebold. Apparently they don't want to have to explain why they spent millions of dollars for a voting system that is flawed or maybe Diebold put on the pressure. Read the Entire Article
|Comment on the Pennsylvania State HAVA Plan
by Rebecca Mercuri, Notable Software - August 27, 2006
This article was posted on OpedNews.com. It is reposted here with permission of the author.
citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requested that I submit a comment
regarding Pennsylvania's amended HAVA State Plan. I am an
expert on electronic voting matters, a former (long-time) resident of Pennsylvania,
as well as a former Bucks County poll worker and committeewoman. I have testified
before numerous PA legislative committees on the subject of Voter Verified Paper
Ballots, and continue to closely follow your State's HAVA implementation activities.
I am deeply concerned about Pennsylvania's interpretation of the HAVA Section 301 requirements with regard to the production of "a permanent paper record with a manual audit capacity" by voting systems that "allow the voter to correct any error before the permanent paper record is produced." I have examined all of the voting system certification reports on your Secretary of State's website and note that only your optically scanned paper systems appear to meet this dual mandate. That there is considerable debate about the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems is reflected in your State Plan Element 12 section entitled "Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail." Although you have observed that the EAC has not mandated VVPATs in their 2005 VVSG, actually none of their guidelines are mandatory (they are all voluntary). As well, the EAC has abstained from commenting with respect to the ability to apply "uniform and nondiscriminatory standards" in states where diverse voting systems are employed that exhibit different rates of disenfranchisement (such as via high undervote rates). These are points of concern.
With regard to the semantic discussion that appears on pages 53-55 of your State Plan, the terminology has been incorrectly applied. The balloting process (whether on optically scanned paper or via a VVPAT-equipped DRE) always requires a casting action that confirms that the voter has had an opportunity to examine the paper record and has deemed it to be correct. Thus, all ballots are "verified" (in the same way that a signature on a loan contract indicates that the signer has reviewed the document, whether they actually did or not) through the casting action following the verification opportunity. Most federal and state legislative efforts in this regard have consistently used the word "verified" and not "verifiable" for this reason. I therefore recommend that the phrase "voter verified" (including in the phrase "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail") be used in all instances in the PA HAVA Plan, rather than "voter verifiable." For additional purposes of understanding, an optically scanned ballot is a voter verified ballot, and a DRE with a VVPAT printing device also produces voter verified ballots if the printed documents are used to create the vote totals. Read the Entire Article
|Wyoming: Yet Another ES&S Ballot Programming Error
by Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA - August 29, 2006
Error Similar To Earlier Problem In Iowa Effects Municipal Race in Wyoming Primary
Initial results published Wednesday in local Jackson Hole, Wyoming newspapers indicated that incumbent Jackson Town councilman steve Harrington had been rejected by voters. However, after a “recalculation” of the vote totals, Harrington will be a candidate in the November general election and council member Scott Anderson will take his place on the sidelines.
Another election, another “glitch”. Fortunately this one was caught. As the Jackson Hole News reported, the problem involved a rotation system intended to prevent the same candidate from always appearing at the top of ballots in each voting precinct. In creating the rotation, a tabulation program substituted one of the two blank spaces provided for write-in candidates on the ballot with one of the candidates listed.
The effect was someone may have voted for a particular person, but the program counted the vote toward a write-in candidate instead of the person for whom the vote was intended. The programming error affected 331 ballots and significantly altered the outcome of the race.
While local news coverage focused on the embarrassment of the announcement of incorrect pre-recalculated vote totals, little attention was focused on the possibility that such ballot programming errors may have happened in other Wyoming counties. The problem in Jackson Hole is nearly identical to problems encountered earlier this summer in Pottawattamie County, Iowa where nine Republican primary races were effected by a similar ballot programming error.
Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
VoteTrustUSA Statement of Principles
Please forward Election Integrity News to your friends!