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West Virginia

Women's Voices sows fresh confusion in West Virginia and Kentucky PDF  | Print |  Email
West Virginia
By Facing South   
May 13, 2008
This article was posted at

The controversy that recently erupted in North Carolina over confusing, misleading and at times illegal voter registration tactics used by Women's Voices Women Vote has not discouraged the D.C. nonprofit from continuing similar efforts in Appalachian states with primaries this month.

Officials in West Virginia and Kentucky, which hold primary elections today and May 20 respectively, tell Facing South that the group is causing similar confusion among the prospective voters it's contacted in those states -- many of whom are already registered to vote.

As documented in our recent investigation into the group's activities in North Carolina, Women's Voices racked up official complaints from elections officials in Arizona and Colorado as long ago as November 2007. In February, the group was the target of a police investigation in Virginia that resulted in Women's Voices promising to stop making anonymous robo-calls. But two months after making that promise, the group showed up in North Carolina and again made anonymous robo-calls in the week and a half before the primary, telling people they'd receive a voter registration packet in the mail.

The calls and mailers raised concerns among North Carolina voting rights advocates because they gave registered voters the impression that they were not properly registered. In addition, the robo-calls were illegal under the state's laws because they did not identify the group making them, leading North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper to issue a cease-and-desist order. The N.C. NAACP filed a formal voter-suppression complaint with Cooper and notified the U.S. Department of Justice, in part because of the differences in the calls that went to black voters (listen to the call here) vs. white voters (audio file here).

Now Facing South has learned that Women's Voices Women Vote has gone on to engage in some of the same problematic behaviors in West Virginia and Kentucky.
West Virginia Snapshot PDF  | Print |  Email
West Virginia
By Sean Flaherty, Verified Voting Foundation   
May 12, 2008
West Virginia law requires voter-verifiable paper records on all voting systems, and a manual count of 5% of precincts is required as part of the canvass under §3-4A-28(d) of the West Virginia Code. ES&S is the only vendor currently providing equipment in West Virginia. 
  • According to the Secretary of State's web page,  34 counties, with almost 59% of the state's registered voters, live in counties in which the only voting system for polling-place voting is the ES&S iVotronic DRE.
  • In 15 counties, the iVotronic is used for accessibility at the polls, but the primary system is centrally counted optical scan ballots, with the M650 counting the paper ballots. About 21% of the voters live in these counties.
  • 2 counties use hand-counted paper ballots, with the iVotronic for accessibility.
  • 4 counties use optical scan systems, with the AutoMARK ballot-marking device used for accessibility. Only two of these counties, Putnam and Kanawha Counties, possess precinct-count scanners. The largest of these four, Kanawha County, is also the largest in the state, with over 130,000 voters. Kanawha uses the iVotronic for accessibility at the polling place, but the AutoMARK for early voting. 
In all, it seems fair to estimate that the majority of votes cast in the primary will be cast on the iVotronic.  Mail-in absentee balloting requires an excuse, so the vast majority of votes in the DRE counties will, in fact,  be cast on the iVotronic.

As we have noted in previous state snapshots, the paper trail for the iVotronic, known as the Real Time Audit Log (RTAL), has been the subject of some criticism for its design. Printer jams have also occurred with the RTAL, compromising about 9% of the machines in Guilford County, NC in the 2006 general election. The Ohio EVEREST review Academic Team report noted a risk that even voters careful to check the RTAL might not notice if their vote was cancelled quickly after printing. Combined with the severe security vulnerabilities of the machines, this is a serious concern.

The West Virginia Secretary of State's office reports that as of April 25, West Virginia has 1,183,495 registered voters. Each party's primary will be open to independents and to members of that party.  The Secretary of State reports that there are 665,234 registered Democrats,  347,760 Republicans, 156,199 voters registered with no party, and the remainder scattered among small parties.  The in-person early voting period ran from April 23 - May 10.
West Virginia SOS Makes Excuses for ES&S PDF  | Print |  Email
West Virginia
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
April 30, 2006

This article appeared in The West Virginia Record. It is reposted with permission.


West Virgina's Secretary of State Betty Ireland (pictured at right) recently issued a press release: "Voting machine vendors across the nation are faced with the daunting task of servicing all 50 states at one time," the release said. "Sometimes this can happen when sweeping federal legislation affects all 50 states," Ireland said in the release. "We understand that ES&S is working hard to meet the demands of all its customers. But we still intend to get what we paid for."

Why is the Secretary of State making excuses for Elections Systems and Software (ES&S), the state's voting machine vendor? Yes, ES&S has failed to meet their contract in West Virginia and, yes, ES&S has a daunting task. However, any failures in meeting their contract with the state are of ES&S's own making. They have certainly been paid well enough by tax-payer money to do the job they agreed to do. Would any non-government contractor be given such latitude in meeting obligations of a signed, well-funded contract?



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