Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Warren Stewart: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back


Don't Let Congress Use the Carter-Baker Report to Make Vote Verification Meaningless
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy,
VoteTrustUSA

The Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, published this morning and available for download at http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/, 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 explicitly recommends a requirement for a voter verifiable paper trail on all voting systems.

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.

The record verified by the voter is the only physical record that voter has confirmed and should be recognized as such. It should not be offered to voters as a placebo to ensure their confidence if it does not actually provide reason for that confidence. It is crucial for a transparent election process is a record of each vote that has been verified by the voters themselves. It must be human readable, it must be genuinely permanent and preserved in the manner that all election materials are preserved, and it must be used to confirm the accuracy of machine counts, whether those counts come from DREs or optical scanners. When inconsistencies between hand counts of paper records and machine-tabulated records are uncovered in an audit or recount, the totals of the voter verified records must be considered the true and correct record of the voter's vote.

And mandatory random manual audits are critically important. While the Commission's report recommends audits to verify the accuracy of voting systems, it is unclear about the mechanism through which such audits shall be conducted and does not specify the need for hand counts. Meaningful audits require hand counts - it is not possible to confirm the accuracy of machine counts with more machine counts. Publicly observed hand counts are the only means to achieve complete certainty of the vote totals and should be required in all audits and recounts.

Of course there is a bill introduced in Congress that would do all this. It has over 150 co-sponsors and has generated widespread constituent support across the country. The voter verification language in this bill was carefully crafted and benefited from the input of computer scientists, disability organizations, and election reform advocates. This bill deals comprehensively with the broad-based and legitimate concerns about the accuracy of vote casting and counting on electronic voting systems by mandating random manual audits to verify the accuracy of electronic data and prohibit the use of undisclosed software, the use of wireless communications devices, and the connection of voting systems to the Internet. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt as HR 550, deserves to be passed as written and passed quickly, in time to affect the 2006 elections.

The Commission has identified the importance of a voter verified paper record requirement, audits, and the prohibition of undisclosed voting system software to ensuring confidence in the election process. We urgently need Federal legislation establishing that it is the voters, rather than a secret and non-transparent software code that ultimately confirm the accuracy of their votes. Congress must not be allowed to use the Commission's report as justification for weakening the language of HR 550. The bill should be passed as written and a companion bill should be introduced and passed in the Senate at once.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Keith Rankin: Narrow Vision: Subsidised Cars And Street Immunity
Problems make the world go round. Many of us – maybe the majority of workers, and certainly the majority of well-paid workers – earn our living addressing problems. A problem-free world would represent a major crisis for modern social-capitalism. (Yet standard economic theory continues to present the productive economy as a mechanism for 'satisfying wants', as distinct from 'addressing problems... More>>


Biden In Tokyo: Killing Strategic Ambiguity
Could it have been just another case of bumbling poor judgment, the mind softened as the mouth opened? A question was put to US President Joe Biden, visiting Tokyo and standing beside Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” The answer: “Yes. That’s a commitment we made.”.. More>>

Dunne Speaks: Robertson's Budget Gamble On Treasury
The popular test of the success or failure of Grant Robertson’s fifth Budget will be its impact on the soaring cost of living. In today’s climate little else matters. Because governments come and governments go – about every six to seven years on average since 1945 – getting too focused on their long-term fiscal aspirations is often pointless... More>>


Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>




The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>