Election Integrity News October 18, 2005
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Actions to Take Now

National: Pass HR 550 As Written

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000

In this issue ...

National Stories
Use It or Lose It: For Democracy, the Time to Act is Now!
Response to The Carter-Baker Report: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
National Summit on Elections Held in Portland, Oregon
Venezuelan CEO of Smartmatic (owner of Sequoia) Refused Entry to US

News From Around the States
California: Governor Signs SB 370 Into Law
Colorado: New Problems Found with Hart Intercivic in Boulder County
New Mexico: Secretary of State Attempts to Subvert Paper Record Requirement
Pennsylvania: Rep. Dan Frankel Introduces Voter Verified Paper Record Bill

Upcoming Events
Southwest Election Reform Conference Oct. 21
Florida Election Reformers Plan Statewide Conference Nov 12-13

Issues
Who Is R. Doug Lewis?
Cost Analysis of DREs vs. Opscans



National Stories

Use It or Lose It: For Democracy, the Time to Act is Now!
by Joan Krawitz, Executive Director, VoteTrustUSA

When the Final Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform was released in September, editorials across the nation and blogs around the web condemned its recommendations for a National Voter ID. Generally overlooked were the Commission's recommendation of a meaningless and expensive placebo paper record whose status would be left up to the individual states, and the very real risk that opponents of secure and accurate vote counts would attach this cosmetic VVPR requirement to the Commission's Voter ID recommendations.

Well, it's happened exactly as we feared. Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida has introduced a bill that combines the worst of the Carter-Baker recommendations for Voter ID and meaningless VVPR. The Orwellian title of HR 3910 is Verifying the Outcome of Tomorrow's Elections Act of 2005 (VOTE for short). Its paper record requirement lets the States decide what significance the paper has if any. The Voter ID section requires a government-issued photo ID to vote in person, or a copy of it to vote by mail, per Homeland Security (read REAL ID) guidelines.
Read the entire article

Response to The Carter-Baker Report: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

The recently released report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, available for download here, is a significant tome at over 100 pages, and its 87 recommendations cover a wide range of issues of concern to election activists. The section dealing with voting technology is of particular interest to those concerned about the accuracy and security of elections in that it calls for a voter verifiable paper trail on all voting machines.

The Commission's report very correctly recognizes the need to ensure voter confidence in the election process through a verification process. However, the report specifically recommends that the status of the voter verified record should be left to the states. This is unacceptable. It is fundamental to the integrity of the democratic process that it is the voters and not the machines that ultimately confirm the accuracy of their votes.
Read the entire article

National Summit on Elections Held in Portland, Oregon
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VotersUnite.org and VoteTrustUSA

It's been an amazingly uplifting and invigorating weekend in Portland, Oregon. This past weekend the Oregon Voting Rights Coalition provided citizens of the country a venue to share their experiences about their voting advocacy and a chance to teach and learn from others.

Activists came from all over the country to attend this amazing gathering. Bernie Ellis from Tennessee, Karen Renick and Pokey Anderson from Texas, MaryBeth Kuznick from Pennsylvania, and many from California, Missouri, and elsewhere; all joined our Oregon hosts.
Read the entire article

Venezuelan CEO of Smartmatic (owner of Sequoia) Refused Entry to US
Press Release from VotersUnite.org

According to news reports, on October 14, 2005, Antonio Mujica, CEO of Smartmatic, was refused entry into the United States. His Visa was revoked by the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela. Read the article

Ten months ago, Smartmatic, a Venezuelan-owned company, purchased Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. for $16 million (U.S.). Sequoia Voting Systems is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic voting systems purchased in the United States. Public access to the company's vote-counting software is prohibited by trade secret laws.
Read the Entire Press Release

News From Around the States

California: Governor Signs SB 370 Into Law
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

In spite of pressure from his appointed Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 370 into law late Friday insuring that the state mandated voter verified paper records would in fact be used in California's mandatory 1% audit of elections. The bill had passed the State Senate unanimously and its companion bill had faced little opposition in the State Assembly, but had faced public opposition from the Secretary of State and The California Association of Clerks & Elections Officials. However, widespread constituent action led by VerifiedVoting.org, The California Voter Foundation, and many other election integrity groups eventually prevailed.

The Governor also signed into law SB 1016, a bill that will protect the confidentiality of voter signatures by making signatures confidential the same way Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers on voter records are protected. Disappointingly, the Governor vetoes two other election measures, one that would have ensured that write-in votes would actually be counted and another that would have required disclosure of the five primary funders of ballot initiatives in campaign literature. All four bills had been introduced in the Senate by Senator Debra Bowen of Redondo Beach.
Read Senator Bowen's Press Release

Colorado: New Problems Found with Hart Intercivic in Boulder County

According to an article published in Colorado, the Hart Intercivic cannot be trusted to properly read ballots where a fold passes through a ballot item. The problem was discovered the glitch Thursday while running ballots through Hart InterCivic scanners during a test when folds running through ballot items caused the scanners to misread seven of the 429 test ballots incorrectly.

Colorado Voting activist Joe Pezzillo is quoted in the article. He fought the Boulder County's purchase of the Hart equipment and supported scrapping it after last year's rocky election, said he is disappointed that a system that is supposedly ideal for mail-ballot elections cannot read ballots that are folded and mailed. "This is what it's good at. This is the kind of functionality we get when it's working at its best," he cracked. "This is the type of foible people encounter when they don't know how to analyze a voting system for purchase."

An excellent Usability Study on the Hart Intercivic was prepared last year by Kevin Hughes for Safe Vote Hawaii. It is available here.

New Mexico: Secretary of State Stacks Deck Against the Automark
By VerifiedVotingNM and UnitedVotersNM

New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron appears ready to spend millions in taxpayer money on voting machines for the disabled but has ruled out the one machine the disabled are said to like best. Moreover, she is doing this out of the public view.

Her action, she says, is to comply with the requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that at least one voting system accessible and usable independently and privately by the disabled must be purchased for each polling place by December 31. The Secretary seems poised to use an estimated $9 million in HAVA funds for buying some 1,400 electronic voting machines.

During Sept. 19-23, Secretary Vigil-Giron held an unpublicized meeting in Rio Rancho, to which she invited representatives of the disabled as well as county clerks from throughout the state. She has not revealed who these disabled representatives were and how comprehensively they reflected the range of disability. At this meeting she barred the county clerks from providing input and asked the disabled representatives to rate three touch screen machines the Sequoia AVC Edge and the ES&S iVotronic and the ES&S AutoMark. According to testimony on 10/13 before the legislative task force on election reform, nine out of ten of the participating disabled voters at the Rio Rancho meeting preferred the AutoMark. But inexplicably the Secretary of State told them that the AutoMark is not eligible for selection on grounds that it is not HAVA compliant -- this despite the fact that the other two machines being rated are also not HAVA compliant at this time.
Read the Entire Press Release

Pennsylvania: Rep. Dan Frankel Introduces Voter Verified Paper Record Bill
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

A bill that would require a voter verified paper record of every vote and a routine random manual auidt of 5% of the state's precincts has been introduced into the Pennsylvania Assembly today by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and 38 initial bi-partisan co-sponsors.

In the 2004 General Election, Pennsylvania witnessed an alarming number of incidents of voting machine malfunctions and irregular vote totals. Machines malfunctioned and votes were lost in many Pennsylvania counties. And Pennsylvania was not alone, with hundreds of incidents in precincts and counties across the nation.
Read the Entire Article

Upcoming Events

Southwest Election Reform Conference Oct. 21

Common Cause will host the 2005 Southwest Election Reform Conference which will bring together a small group of elected and government officials, academics, and advocates from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona invited by Common Cause to focus on strategies for effecting election reform at the state level.

The conference will take place over 2 days in Estes Park CO. You are invited to join us for day two, Friday October 21, 2005. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants to hear from experts in the field and attend workshops filled with discussion and tools for organizing election reform.
For More Information

Florida Election Reformers Plan Statewide Conference Nov 12-13

Florida election reformers are invited to attend a statewide election reform conference and workshop hosted by Florida Fair Elections Coalition in Orlando November 12-13. The goals of this event are to create a unified, coordinated, statewide effort to effect reform, to develop strategies for a coordinated legislative agenda, to share information, ideas, and expertise on issues, to build a working relationship among Florida election reform organizations, thereby maximizing our effectiveness
Read More Here

Issues

Who Is R. Doug Lewis?
by New Yorkers for Verified Voting (www.nyvv.org)

R. Doug Lewis is the Executive Director of the Election Center in Houston, a private, "non-profit organization that serves the elections and voter registration profession" by sponsoring training and certification programs for election administrators and vendors. The Election Center has about 1,000 dues-paying members, including state and county election officials and "suppliers of election products and services."

Prior to taking over the Election Center in 1994, Lewis was president and director of Micro Trade Mart, a company that traded in used computer parts. He claims political experience as a presidential assistant, aide to Texas governor John Connolly, and chairman of state Democratic parties. Lewis has developed a continuing education program for election officials and the first Code of Ethics for voter registrars and elections administrators.
Read the Entire Article

Cost Analysis of DREs vs. Opscans
New Study in Florida Analizes Actual Costs of Election Administration
by Rosemarie and Richard Myerson

A new study, by Dr. Rosemarie Myerson and Richard Myerson, of the real cost of DRE and optical scan voting systems in all Florida Counties, reveals that buying touchscreens will increase a county's annual expenditures by 57.3%. Owning optical scanners should increase their expected annual costs 16.9%. Optical scanners have the further advantage of providing a voter verified paper ballot that can be used to audit the machine's data and for any needed independent recount. To match this auditing advantage of optical scanners, the present touch screen systems would require the county to purchase and maintain a large number of printers, an additional set of costs that would significantly increase the county's annual expenses.
Download the Study

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VoteTrustUSA Newsletter Editor: Warren Stewart