Election Integrity News - November 7, 2005

This Week's Quote: “One thing that Democrats and Republicans can agree on is that as we enter a new era in voting equipment we must continue to have faith in our election process…requiring a paper ballot trail is a simple check to make sure the new technology works as it should.” Wisconsin State Representative Steve Freese (R-Dodgeville)

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Actions to Take Now

National: Pass HR 550 As Written!

Pennsylvania: Support HB 2000 and S 977

Wisconsin: Pass AB 627 & S 296 Now!


In this issue ...

Commentary
Proprietary Software On Voting Machines?

National Stories
Mainstream Media to American Democracy: Drop Dead!

News From Around the States
Arizona: Vote Machine Suit Designed to Protect Election Process
Arizona: New Law Keeps Thousands of Legal Voters From Voting
California: Is Los Angeles County Above the Law?
Minnesota: Another State Goes with Automarks
New Jersey: Garden State Voting Update
Pennsylvania: Conti Introduces VVPR/Audit Bill in Senate
Texas: Citizens in Travis County to Conduct Parallel Election and Debut Vote-PAD
Virginia: Call for Legislative Action
Wisconsin: VVPB/Open Source Bill Sent to Assembly Floor

Upcoming Events
November 8th - Election Day!
Nov. 10-11: New Mexico Election Reform Task Force
Nov. 12-13: Florida Election Reformers Statewide Conference

Previous Issues
October 31, 2005
October 25, 2005
October 18, 2005

The Top Five Stories from the Past Week's Daily Voting News
by John Gideon, VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

#5 Colorado - Phantom votes haunt Pitkin County election officials. 1,186 phantom votes were counted when only 374 voters actually voted. This happened on Diebold Op-scans. Link

#4 Louisiana, Arkansas, & Minnesota - Three states made state-wide voting decisions. The Louisiana SoS has dictated that only Sequoia Edge’s will be used. In Arkansas, ES&S is the vendor but the counties have a choice of whether they want to use the AutoMark. And Minnesota settled on ES&S Op-scans and AutoMark.
Louisiana to use same voting machines in all 64 parishes.(Sequoia Edge) Link
Arkansas - State signs contract to buy new voting equipment (ES&S and Possible AutoMark). Link
Minnesota - Touch screens to aid disabled voters next year Link

#3 New Mexico - Election Errors Threaten Future Voting Rights in New Mexico. This is an excellent beginning article in a series of articles on New Mexico and what happened in the state last November. Link

#2 National An extremely important report was issued recently that has had the whole voting activist community talking. However for the most part, the main stream media has ignored this report. Brad Friedman has not only reported on the GAO report but he has reported on the MSM and their seeming disregard of the report. Link Link Link

#1 Florida - Secretary of State Glenda Hood is gone on Nov. 21 and her voting technology deputy, Paul Craft, is gone on Nov. 27. Paul Craft is going on to be a consultant in elections. Secretary Hood is just going away(?).
Florida - Secretary of State quits Link
Florida voting gear chief exits to start own firm (Paul Craft) Link



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Commentary

Proprietary Software On Voting Machines?
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

This week a panel of three judges in Sarasota County, Florida found that a breathalyzer manufacturer, CMI Inc., must turn over its source code to an expert hired by defendants in drunk driving cases. The expert would only be allowed to inspect the code for bugs and he would be under court orders not to divulge any of the code to the public. The manufacturer of the breathalyzer has refused to allow its source code to be reviewed.
In an article in News Forge Bill Scofield, manager of engineering for CMI Inc., the company who makes the subject breathalyzer, is quoted as stating, “It's a trade secret. There is no reason to release the source code because there are other ways to test its effectiveness." However no other means of testing the source code were offered by CMI.

The article goes on to quote Mr. Zimmerman, "It's one of the few cases that we've seen recently where a court has come out and said it really is appropriate, if you're going to be making important decisions that affect someone's liberty, then you should be able to understand what's going on with these technologies that are helping make these decisions."

The article continues, “He said that in addition to various fears over losing proprietary advantages, companies may also fear that public examination of software would let the public know "there may be some flaws in the design, in the coding, that otherwise they wouldn't have to reveal."

“"The government is outsourcing a governmental process," Zimmerman said of both e-voting and the breathalyzer questions. "It's not a case where you're alleging that a certain harm has been done to a specific person. You're making the allegation that the technology doesn't do its work quite as well as it could."

“The key to both concerns is the potential for these devices to affect people's liberty and freedom, while the manufacturers do not provide the public with the information to know what is going on, Zimmerman said. Both cases, he said, should tell the government that the public has a right to know how technologies actually work when they have to do with individual liberty.

“Although the e-voting issue, and potentially the breathalyzer issue, have the potential to become political issues because of the implication that government is trying to cover something up or at least not pursue answers vigorously enough, each is a matter of protecting citizens rights -- which in itself can be a political issue.”

In response to a question about whether this court ruling was something that could be used in his lawsuit, Paul Lehto, who has sued Sequoia Elections and Snohomish County, WA., responded, "This Florida ruling is a common sense application of the right of citizens to confront their accusers and cross examine evidence used against them, based on longstanding bedrock principles of due process fairness and the Courts' truth-seeking function. With regard to secret vote counting on corporate hard drives, it is already the case that secret vote counting is grossly illegal and unconstitutional (without any court needing to rule) but unfortunately some people and voting machine vendors in particular will persist until they are ordered by Courts to back off. It's not a close question, though, nor a novel principle of law."

Transparency is important otherwise we will never know for sure how our votes were counted or whether they were really counted at all. And if, like CMI, voting machine vendors refuse to reveal their source code for inspection by our experts then they should not be allowed to use their machines to count our votes.

National Stories

Mainstream Media to American Democracy: Drop Dead!
by Brad Friedman, Brad Blog

Originally published in The Huffington Post and The Brad Blog. Reprinted with permission.
It's been a full two weeks now since the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO came out with their 107-page report [PDF] confirming what so many of us have been trying to ring the bell about for so long: The Electronic Voting Machines which are proliferating in counties and states across America even as I type, are not secure, not accountable, not recountable, not transparent, not accurate and not adequately monitored or certified by anybody.

Culminating a year-long investigation into the secret Voting Machines and Software now being deployed to the tune of millions of tax-payer dollars to privatize our American Democracy, the report was requested by several high-ranking members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The report confirms that “concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes.”


Brad Friedman

Furthermore, it was released in tandem with a joint bi-partisan news release which lauded the report. That's right. Six high-ranking U.S. Congressmen (3 Democrats and 3 Republicans) issued the incredibly rare joint News Release together. Two of those Congressmen were Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee respectively. You do understand how rare it is that those two can agree on anything much less issue a joint press release, right?!

The Mainstream Corporate Media couldn't care less. As of yet, none of the above has been carried by even one wire service or one major American Newspaper. Not one. Read the Entire Article

News From Around the States

Arizona: Vote Machine Suit Designed to Protect Election Process
by Tom Ryan, Arizona Citizens for Fair Elections

Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer dismisses my lawsuit as "bogus" ("Brewer sued over voting equipment standards," Republic, Oct. 24). My lawsuit asks the court to require Brewer to produce election equipment decertification standards that are required by state law, and which her office admits it has not produced.

Currently, there are no procedures or criteria of any kind for removing defective equipment from use in this state, or even determining that equipment should be subject to evaluation. Yet we have very good evidence that equipment is defective.

In a September 2004 Republican primary election in Legislative District 20 (Maricopa County), the margin between two candidates was so close that a recount was required. According to the recount, there were 472 additional votes counted on the same ballots. On one optical scan machine assigned to recount mail-in ballots, there was a nearly 4 percent increase in votes. Read the Entire Article


Jan Brewer

Arizona: New Law Keeps Thousands of Legal Voters From Voting
by John Gideon, Information Manager, VotersUnite and VoteTrustUSA

Little did Arizona voters know when they voted in favor of Proposition 200 last year that they may be removing their right to register to vote. Thousands of voters in the state are now realizing their mistake. Part of Proposition 200 requires a photo ID at the polls.

That's bad enough but another part of the Proposition requires that all voters prove their citizenship when they register. This has caught tens of thousands of voters unawares and will keep thousands from voting this Tuesday. Elections officials say that only a small percentage of those voters affected by this law are illegal voters. Read the Entire Article

California: Is Los Angeles County Above the Law?
by Sherry Healy, California Election Protection Network

Officials in the nation's largest county seem to be laboring under an alarming misinterpretation of California's venerable mandatory random audit provision. According to an email from Conny McCormack, Registrar/Recorder of Los Angeles County has asserted that “early voted ballots on DREs…are not required to be a part of the 1% manual tally.” Subsequent correspondence with the Registrar’s office revealed that neither absentee ballots nor early vote ballots are audited and that the county apparently intends to violate the state election code by reporting those votes by ballot type rather than by precinct.

The One Percent Recount is detailed in California Election Code 15360 which states that “during the official canvass of every election in which a voting system is used, the official conducting the election shall conduct a public manual tally of the ballots tabulated by those devices cast in 1 percent of the precincts chosen at random by the elections official.” Nowhere are early votes, which are considered a subset of absentee votes, nor any particular type of voting system excluded from this 1% recount. If McCormack has been routinely excluding absentee, early votes, or votes on DREs from the recount in her county, the selection of precincts can hardly be considered to have been “random”. Read the Entire Article


Conny McCormack

Minnesota: Another State Goes with AutoMarks
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

Minnesota has chosen to use the Automark ballot-marking device to meet the accessibility requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The state passed a voter verified paper record requirement earlier this year and the use of a ballot marking device for disabled voters allow all Minnesotans to cast their vote on the same optical scan ballots that are inherently voter verified. Optical scan ballots are also well suited for the hand counted audits that are also required by state law.


Mary Kiffmeyer

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer noted that 2006 would mark "a major leap forward" for voting rights, thanks to ballot marking technology that will allow disabled people to cast ballots privately and independently for the first time.

Ken Rodgers, president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Council of the Blind, said he hopes the equipment will encourage visually impaired residents to vote. “I can’t wait,” said American Council of The Blind Of Minnesota's Ken Rogers of Minneapolis, of using the ballot-marking machine. “I wish we could do it this election,” he said.

Rogers, who lost his sight as an adult, said that in informal surveying of the blind community he has found that many people who were born blind have never voted. The difficulty they have getting to the polls, the lack of privacy, just leaves some blind people thinking the effort isn’t worth it, he explained. Read the Entire Article

New Jersey: Garden State Voting Update
by Pam Barton, for VoteTrustUSA

New Jersey has an election for governor and several statewide offices coming up in New Jersey on November 8th. Here's an update on voting machines, election protection, and Voter ID developments in the Garden State.

In a mixed victory for New Jersey voting activists, Liberty’s 2002 qualified DRE was approved by state examiners last month. Nearly every county in New Jersey uses the Sequoia Advantage, and activists and county officials have long sought an alternative that met both state and federal guidelines. While Liberty’s machine is problematic in certain ways (download this report [PDF] from New Yorkers for Verified Voting for a takedown), New Jersey activists feel much more comfortable with this system than with Sequoia’s and are encouraged by their modest success in pressuring the attorney general’s office to accept an alternative, any alternative, to the 1990 qualified Sequoia Advantage. Read the Entire Report

Pennsylvania: Senator Conti Introduces Companion Bill to HB 2000
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

On November 1, Pennsylvania Senator Joseph Conti (R-10th) introduced S. 977, a bill calling for a voter verified paper record of every vote and a mandatory random handcount of 5% of those paper records in each county in the state.companion bill to HB 2000 yesterday. The bill is a verbatim clone of a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House in late September by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny)

The verification language of the bills, which have over 50 co-sponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate, is drawn from Rush Holt’s Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) which was introduced in the US House earlier this year. The Pennsylvania legislation has the support of state and local election integrity organizations and VoteTrustUSA joins with other national organizations like Verified Voting, VotePA and Common Cause Pennsylvania in supporting HB 2000 and S 977.

More information about HB 2000 and S 977 can be found here. If you are a Pennsylvania resident please click on this link to send an email to your Representative and Senator in support of accurate and secure elections in your state.


Sen. Joseph Conti

Texas: Citizens in Travis County to Conduct Parallel Election and Debut Vote-PAD
by Karen Renick, VoteRescue

Responding to widespread concern about electronic voting machines, citizens in Travis County will conduct parallel elections in twelve of the county‚s precinct on November 8. Volunteers working on the Citizens' Parallel Election (CPE) will invite voters once they leave their polling place to vote again on a paper ballot, place their vote in a ballot box, and return at 7:00 pm to watch the counting of the votes.

Parallel election volunteers will also have available a new prototype of a voting system for the visually and physically impaired called Vote-PADs, an innovative voting method that offers a non-electronic way for the disabled to vote independently. The use of this device would provide election officials an alternative to buying electronic voting systems to fulfill the mandate of the „Help America Vote Actš to have private voting methods in place for the visually and physically impaired by January 1, 2006.

The results of the Citizens' Parallel Election will serve primarily as a basic survey of the voters participating in the CPE and will be compared to the official election results, but only in very sweeping terms. If a significant difference is found between any two election results, this discrepancy will be presented to election officials simply as a red flag that may signal a problem warranting further attention. The final assessment of the CPE, including any such discrepancies, will be announced at a press conference following the election.

Read the Entire Article

Virginia: Activists Call for Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail
by Ivy Main, Policy Director, New ERA for Virginia

The New Electoral Reform Alliance for Virginia ("New Era for VA") is urging the Virginia legislature to require that all ballots be verifiable by voters before being cast, and that all voting machines be equipped with a permanent paper record that can be audited for accuracy and that will form the official record of the vote count. These proposals are currently being studied by the legislature’s Joint Subcommittee to Study the Certification, Performance, and Deployment of Voting Equipment.

The election integrity group also supports no-excuse in-person absentee voting, non-partisan redistricting, improved notice to the state party chairs when local officials are conducting their mandatory testing of electronic voting machines, provisions for random audits of machines to ensure public confidence in their accuracy, and a ban on wireless modems and internet connections on voting equipment. Read the Entire Article

Wisconsin: VVPB/Open Source Bill Sent to the Assembly
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

With a unanimous 5-0 vote on November 3rd, the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections sent a bipartisan election reform measure to the floor of the Assembly. The bill, AB 627, was introduced by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Madison) and Steve Freese (R-Dodgeville) on August 24th. The bill supports the position of Wisconsin’s multi-partisan Board of Elections.

The bill would require electronic voting machines to generate “a complete paper ballot showing all votes cast by each elector at the time that it is cast that is visually verifiable.” The voter must be able to verify the ballot before leaving the machine and it must be suitable for a manual count or recount. A similar bill passed the Assembly unanimously last session but was stalled in the Senate. This time there is a Senate companion bill, SB 296, introduced by Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee).

Significantly the bill also would require that “the coding for the software that is used to operate the system on Election Day and to tally the votes cast is publicly accessible and may be used to independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the operating and tallying procedures to be employed at any election.” Read the Entire Article VoteTrustUSA has launched an Action Alert in support of AB 627 & SB 296 Click here to send an email to your state legislators. For more information about AB 627 & SB 296 click here.

Upcoming Events

November 8th is Election Day in Most States!
Vote, Volunteer, Verify - Report Any Problems to 1-866-OUR-VOTE

A majority of states in the nation are holding elections on November 8th. Gubernatorial elections are being held in New Jersey and Virginia, election initiatives will be decided in Ohio, and a controversial special election will take place in California. Many counties will be using voter verified paper record printers for the first time. Be sure to go to the polls, make sure your friends vote, verify your vote and consider volunteering as a pollworker - democracy needs all of us.

If you experience any problem casting your ballot -- finding the polling place, voter intimidation, accessibility issues, voting machine problems, provisional ballot issues, or you witness anyone having voting problems, please call 1-866-OUR- VOTE to report the problem. Verified Voting Foundation volunteers and staff have developed a new version of the "Election Incident Reporting System" (EIRS) to record all problems reported to 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Since 2004, hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals in the United States have used EIRS to help protect our right to vote and assure that every vote is counted as cast.

New Mexico Election Reform Task Force Final Meetings Nov. 10-11

The next meeting of the interim legislative Election Reform Task Force will be held on 10-11 November 2005 in Room 307 of the State Capitol in Santa Fe. The meetings begin at 9:00 a.m. on both days. A tentative agenda can be downloaded here. There will be two presentations, one on state compliance with federal consent decrees and one on election day voter registration. The latter one is an important new initiative, and is being promoted by Common Cause. Beyond those two presentations, the rest of the agenda is on "Discussion of Legislative Proposals". These discussions are intended to provide guidance for the development of legislation in future legislative sessions.
For More Information about the Election Reform Task Force. Also visit United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico.

Achieving Election Reform: A Florida 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 Kissimee 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. Guest speakers include Ion Sancho, Supervisor of Elections, Leon County; Joyce Cusack, Florida State Representative; and Frank Bruno, Volusia County Council Chairman. For More Information

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Election Integrity News Editor: Warren Stewart
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