Voter Verification Newsletter -- January 19, 2004
David L. Dill, http://www.verifiedvoting.org
Please forward this newsletter to your friends!
Voter Verification Newsletter -- Vol 2, Number 2, January 19, 2004
* New York Times Op/Ed Calls for VVPT
* Florida Special Election Proves Need for Paper Trail
* Meanwhile, a Florida Judge Requires Accessible Machines by August
* Fairfax, Virginia GOP Calls for VVPT
* North Carolina Activist Group Pushes for Verified Voting
* Ohio Counties Balk at Choosing DREs
* North Dakota buys ES&S
* Vermont May Ban Electronic Ballots
* Maine VVPB Bill Opposed by Sec of State
* California Still Caught in Certification Brambles
* Michigan Allows Internet Voting in Democratic Primary
We've heard that there are now 102 co-sponsors, including another Republican. We won't know the details until the new list is posted on Thomas.loc.gov, which we hope will be updated by Wednesday. We haven't heard of a co-sponsor for S.1980 but we'll keep you informed when we do.
Many of you are visiting your Congress people. Great! Please keep it up. Guidelines for visiting legislators or staff are here: http://www.verifiedvoting.org/resources/town_meeting_resources.asp
More and more electronic voting problems are being reported. How many remain undetected? The good news is that more and more states are taking action!
NEW YORK TIMES OP/ED CALLS FOR VVPT
January 18, 2003 - the Sunday editorial is a very good read. It mentions the Florida fiasco detailed below, urges Congress to pass Holt's bill, and decries the use of Internet voting in Michigan primaries and the Defense Department's SERVE program. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/18/opinion/18SUN1.html
FLORIDA SPECIAL ELECTION PROVES NEED FOR PAPER TRAIL
Broward County, Florida. In a special election for the State House District 91 seat, ES&S electronic voting machines showed a total of 134 undervotes - that is, 134 ballots in which voters did not select a candidate in the single-race election. In this single-race election, all candidates were Republicans. The winner, Ellyn Bogdanoff, received 12 more votes than the runner-up.
Florida law requires a manual recount of invalid votes when the winning margin is less than one-quarter of one percent, which it is in this case. However, it is impossible for election officials to comply with Florida law because the 134 invalid votes were cast on electronic voting machines, and there is no record of the voter's original votes. ( http://tinyurl.com/2jrbt and http://tinyurl.com/27w69)
The day before the disastrous election, the Sun Sentinel wrote an article entitled "Don't Require Paper Ballots" ( http://tinyurl.com/3y3kt). Wexler wrote a scathing response ( http://tinyurl.com/yuy3l).
Representative Wexler (D-FL), an early co-sponsor of H.R.2239, has been an outspoken advocate for the bill. Shortly after the election disaster, he issued a press release pointing out that last July he had warned Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood about these very problems. http://www.house.gov/wexler/press_releases/Jan_10_04.htm
A few days later, he issued another release urging Governor Jeb Bush to join the fight for ballot printers. http://www.house.gov/wexler/press_releases/Jan_13_04.htm
Then on January 16, he announced that he has filed a lawsuit against Glenda Hood and Teresa LaPore, charging them with violating their duties to ensure that votes are counted accurately. "If the lawsuit is successful, Wexler is hoping to change Florida's election law by requiring that every touch-screen machine in the state be affixed to a printer in order to print out an individual voter-verifiable ballot." http://www.house.gov/wexler/press_releases/Jan_16_04.htm
The BAD NEWS is that while this election fiasco, and even the lawsuit, are being covered heavily in Florida newspapers, they are getting virtually no national press. So, tell your friends and call your local newspapers to inform them.
MEANWHILE, A FLORIDA JUDGE REQUIRES ACCESSIBLE MACHINES BY AUGUST
Last week, U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley ruled that Duval County is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and must provide the blind and disabled with voting machines that have an audio system. While the ruling applies only to Duval County, it could have far-reaching effects on the rest of Florida's 52 counties that use optical scan machines. The ruling requires that the new equipment be in place by the August primaries, and the county is planning to buy Diebold machines as soon as they are certified.
"Once the judge issues his final ruling, Duval County will determine whether to appeal. If the judge orders the county to put touchscreens in every precinct, the county will likely appeal. If he orders a limited number of machines, an appeal is unlikely." http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/state/7719248.htm
We support the availability of accessible equipment for the disabled, but given the questions about paperless DREs, we strongly prefer machines that provide an accessible VVPT. Otherwise, we recommend limiting the use of the paperless machines to those who cannot fill out a paper ballot.
FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA GOP CALLS FOR VVPT
Fairfax County, Virginia. A January 9, 2004 report by a county GOP committee declares that the touch screen voting machines used in the November election were a "failure." The investigation was prompted by the electoral board's removal of 10 malfunctioning machines during the election - an action the Republican party claims is illegal. "The Republican report cited dozens of e-mails and letters from precinct workers and voters who described problems such as machines that repeatedly crashed, screens that balked at registering votes and delays in tallying votes." One of the citizens reporting machine breakdowns was Delegate J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax).
The report calls on the Virginia legislature to pass a law requiring disclosed source code, a voter-verifiable paper trail, and surprise recounts in 0.5% of all precincts. The report is here:
Republican and Democratic state legislators have drafted several bills aimed at avoiding future problems. One of the bills (HB987/SB457) requires voter-verified paper records. Here is the summary of HB987:
"Requires that direct electronic voting devices be equipped to provide voter-verified paper ballots by January 1, 2007, and that the State Board of Elections begin a testing program for direct electronic voting devices and accompanying voter-verified paper ballots at the November 2004 general election. The Board shall conduct a random audit of direct electronic voting devices for comparison with the results obtained under the testing program."
NORTH CAROLINA ACTIVIST GROUP PUSHES FOR VERIFIED VOTING
Joyce McCloy, Coordinator of the North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting, is leading the opposition to paperless electronic voting machine implementation in NC. Joyce reports that North Carolina election officials state, "North Carolina neither provides for paper ballots NOR allows verifiable paper receipts." She is working to get the election laws in NC changed to ALLOW for verifiable paper ballot printers to be provided on DREs purchased in the state. Joyce also reports that some NC representatives don't seem to be able to answer any questions on what vendors are being considered or what the time frame is for implementation.
Join Joyce in the push to get North Carolina election law amended to provide for verifiable voting. If you live in North Carolina and want to participate in the campaign to ensure verifiable voting, contact Joyce at email@example.com.
OHIO COUNTIES BALK AT CHOOSING DREs
Nine Ohio counties, including the five largest, refused to meet a Secretary of State Blackwell's January 15 deadline for selecting electronic voting machines to replace outdated equipment. They said too many security and cost issues about the systems remain unanswered.
"Still, 62 of 71 counties participating in the statewide upgrade from punch cards met Thursday's deadline, allowing Blackwell's office to proceed with contracts for nearly 15,000 machines statewide. Diebold secured contracts with 40 counties, representing about 10,000 machines. Its competitors won much less: - Election Systems & Software (11), Hart Intercivic (seven), and Sequoia Voting Systems (four). So the indecision of some of Ohio's most populous counties remains significant. Uncommitted counties control about 12,300 machines statewide. " http://tinyurl.com/2yjzg
NORTH DAKOTA BUYS ES&S
Secretary of State Al Jaeger has signed a $5.3 million contract with ES&S to supply voting machines for all of North Dakota's 53 counties. They include touchscreens as well as "ballot scanning machines, which are designed to tell voters about possible ballot mistakes before they turn them in. For example, it would alert someone who voted for both Democratic and Republican candidates in a primary election." http://tinyurl.com/2pov6
VERMONT MAY BAN ELECTRONIC BALLOTS
On January 6, with the encouragement and support of the Vermonters for Voting Integrity ( http://www.geocities.com/vtvoting/), Senator Ann Cummings introduced S.202. The stated purpose of the bill is this:
"This bill proposes to require computerized or touch screen voting machines used in elections to produce a paper record of each vote cast. It also proposes to require that any town using a computerized or touch screen voting machine shall provide a ballot box for the collection of the paper records produced by the voting machines."
The Secretary of State's office and the Senate committee holding hearings on the bill are united in their concerns about e-voting. We congratulate Vermont on its enlightened attitude and hope this bill is enacted very soon. See also: http://timesargus.nybor.com/Local/Story/77451.html
MAINE VVPB BILL OPPOSED BY SEC OF STATE
On January 13, 2004, the Maine House held a public hearing for the bill LD #1759 "An Act to Ensure the Fair Counting of Votes." While many of the legislators support the bill, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn spent nearly an hour telling the committee about the bill's flaws. She pointed out that it was addressing problems encountered by other states and that Maine has no DREs. Hannah Pingree, who introduced the bill, and other Senators believe it is important to have laws in place before Maine starts buying equipment required by HAVA to provide accessibility for the disabled. http://www.centralmaine.com/news/local/322855.shtml
We hear from Ms. Pingree that she intends to pursue the enactment of this bill. We sincerely appreciate her zeal, and we wish her quick success!
NOTE: In our December 8 newsletter, we reported a preliminary bill number. The correct number is 1759.
CALIFORNIA STILL CAUGHT IN CERTIFICATION BRAMBLES
The January 15 meeting of the California Voting Systems Panel was attended by over 100 concerned citizens. Hurrah to all of you who went! Many gave testimony opposing the certification of the Diebold TSx (touchscreen). Kim Alexander, President of California Voter Foundation, pointed out that the TSx was not federally approved and so it should not be certified in California. But unfortunately the conditional certification was not withdrawn.
VerifiedVoting.org believes that, in the absence of the NASED Certification of the TSx, these systems should be decertified as soon as possible and that their use should be prohibited in the upcoming March Primary Election as well as the November General Election. We similarly believe that counties that have contracted for these systems in advance of their complete certification have made these purchase decisions in the absence of the voter's best interests -- particularly since there are systems available that already support a voter-verifiable paper trail.
MICHIGAN ALLOWS INTERNET VOTING IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
The New York Times reports, "Next month, voters in the Michigan Democratic primary will have the option of casting their votes from their homes over the Internet. Critics of such voting raise the possibilities of fraud, privacy violations, vote buying and coercion." Adam Liptak, the journalist, discusses the inequities at length, but we are disappointed that he gives little space to the concerns of technologists about the insecurity of Internet voting.
VerifiedVoting.org strongly opposes Internet voting for any election.