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Vote-PAD Files Claim Against California Secretary of State PDF  | Print |  Email
By Vote-PAD Media Release   
October 15, 2006
Asserting that the Secretary of State violated California State Law and Constitutional protections, Vote-PAD, Inc. today filed a formal claim against the Secretary's Office with the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.

The Vote-PAD, recently used in the Wisconsin primary election, is a non-computerized device designed to help people with disabilities hand mark a paper ballot. Six California counties were hoping to use the Vote-PAD this November, but on August 25, 2006, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson refused to certify it for use in California.

Vote-PAD, Inc., developer of the device, claims that the certification process, which was created by the Office of the Secretary of State specifically for the Vote-PAD, violated a number of State and Federal protections. The company charges that the process was:

"a violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitutions of both the United States and the State of California, a breach of contract, a violation of the California Administrative Procedures Act, a violation of the Election Code provisions governing voting system certification, and an abuse of discretion in the Secretary's authority to certify voting systems."
"Off with Their Heads!" cried the Queen of Hearts PDF  | Print |  Email
By Ellen Theisen, Vote-PAD, Inc.   
August 29, 2006

"How am I to get in?" asked Alice again, in a louder tone.


"Are you to get in at all?" said the Footman. "That's the first question, you know."

It was a Queen of Hearts sort of a day in California on August 9, 2006. The Secretary of State's advisory panel was hearing public comments regarding the pending certification of the Vote-PAD, a non-electronic assistive device designed to help voters with disabilities mark and verify a paper ballot independently.


Voting integrity advocates held signs supporting the certification of Vote-PAD. They told of countless failures of computerized voting systems. They spoke about recent discoveries of easily hackable "back doors" into the vote totals on those systems, which have been certified. By contrast, "Vote-PAD is no more hackable than a #2 pencil," said one.


Notwithstanding this and the letters praising the Vote-PAD from dozens of people with visual and motor disabilities, the Secretary of State's staff was recommending against certifying the Vote-PAD for use in California. The Queen started by describing the testing process, "We asked them to vote independently on the Vote-PAD, and we told them exactly what to do the entire time."

"Excuse me," said Alice, "but how is that independent?"

"That's not the point," said the Queen. "The point is that they weren't able to vote independently."

"But you didn't let them," objected Alice.

"Don't be impertinent," said the King.

"Yes!" murmured the jury.

California SoS Office Engaged In Smear Campaign Against Vote-PAD PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
August 10, 2006

Bruce McDannold Misinforms and Distorts When Talking About Vote-PAD to County Elections Officials


Confidentiality Agreement is Violated In This Campaign


This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 


A very revealing article was published this week in the Arcata Eye, a weekly newspaper, in Arcata, Humboldt County, California.


The article, headlined "County’s new voting machines may be flawed", was published on August 8, one day prior to the hearing in Sacramento about the Vote-PAD that was reported yesterday.


Reports from the hearing were that even hearing officials were questioning Bruce McDannold, the Secretary of State's Interim Director of the Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment, about how he came to some negative conclusions about Vote-PAD; questions he could not answer; questions that, according to eye-witnesses, made him look rather foolish.

Yet, according to the Arcata Eye article, McDannold seems to have been carrying on a vendetta against Vote-PAD for awhile. It seems that late last month McDannold spoke about Vote-PAD at the annual conference of state’s clerks and elections officials in San Diego:

Bruce McDannold, the interim director of the state’s Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment, had already indicated that Vote-PAD would not be an acceptable option. “(McDannold) didn’t have much good to say about Vote-PAD,” McWilliams related. “He said that it’s one of the most error-prone systems he had ever tested.” 

County Clerk-Recorder Carolyn Crnich gave a similar account, having heard McDannold speak at the annual conference of state’s clerks and elections officials in San Diego late last month. “I would interpret his words and actions (on Vote-PAD) to be very negative,” she said, adding that the best that can be hoped for now is a conditional state certification of Vote-PAD that would allow it be modified.

Vote-PAD Defends Itself In Public Hearing In California PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
August 09, 2006

Vote-PAD's President Explains The Flaws in The State's Test Plan and Certification Process


As reported previously the state of California unfairly treated voters with disabilities in the testing of the Vote-PAD, a voting assistive device designed specifically for use by voters with disabilities and successfully tested and used by those voters across the country. The fact that the staff of the Secretary of State of California used shoddy test procedures and then recommended denial of certification, based on those test procedures, of the Vote-PAD is certainly questionable. Why haven't other voting systems, that purport to be accessible, been tested by the disabilities community at all?


As reported earlier, today is the public hearing for the Vote-PAD. Ellen Theisen, President and Founder of Vote-PAD has testified about the problems with the test procedure. In her testimony she referred to accompanying testimony from Valerie Rice, PhD., CPE, OTR/L, whose PhD is in "Human Factors Engineering (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) with a specialization in Human Factors Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and masters degrees in both Occupational Therapy (University of Puget Sound) and Health Care Administration (Baylor University). She is a Board Certified Professional Ergonomist and a liscensed and registered Occupational Therapist". In otherwords, Dr. Rice is the person who should have written the states test procedure which would have given everyone a fair and even field for making a judgment on Vote-PAD.

People With Disabilities Set Up For Failure In Vote-PAD Testing In California PDF  | Print |  Email
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
August 07, 2006

Voters To Hold Press Conference Before Public Hearing In Sacramento On Wednesday


This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author. 


Vote-PAD is a low-tech, voting assistive device that was developed with input from the disabilities community. Because it is inexpensive to purchase and maintain, Vote-PAD is a threat to electronic voting systems. Vote-PAD also makes voting a possibility for a wider range of voters with disabilities than do almost all of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) or touch-screen voting systems.


Even though some northern California counties had already purchased Vote-PAD for use in their elections as their HAVA compliant voting system for voters with disabilities; the Secretary of State decided that they would have to certify Vote-PAD for use with the optical-scan systems that are in use in each of the user counties.


The state then wrote a test plan that was totally unfair to the voters with disabilities who were expected to test the Vote-PAD. The state did not use a Human Factors Usability Testing Expert, an expert in writing test procedures for disabilities access. Instead they wrote a procedure that would have been better suited to testing a computerized voting system and they appear to have done this without really understanding how voters with disabilities actually use the device.


It is important to note that the state of California has certified for use many voting systems produced by Sequoia, Elections Systems and Software, Diebold, and Hart Intercivic. These devices have been certified by the state as being HAVA compliant and usable by voters with disabilities. Yet, not one of the electronic voting systems has been tested specifically by the disabilities community or even advocates for that community. Instead, a cursory inspection was made by unqualified staff and/or unqualified consultants and they were all accepted for use.

Vote-PAD: Inventor Helps Disabled Vote In Private PDF  | Print |  Email
By Evan Cael   
March 28, 2006

This article was published in the Peninsula Daily News on March 28, 2006.


With the advent of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, all polling locations across the nation are required to provide a method for disabled people to vote without assistance from another person.


That keeps the voter's balloting confidential.


A Port Ludlow woman has invented a low-tech system that helps the disabled vote -- solo.

Computerized voting machines didn't seem to be the answer to 15-year Port Ludlow resident Ellen Theisen, because they malfunction.


She began to worry about the democratic voting process.


With 22 years experience as a technical writer of computer software, Theisen knew the limitations of computers and what their pitfalls are.


"What got my interest was when I found out democracy was dependent on the correct alignment of ones and zeros,'' said Theisen of the digits that provide digital data.


"I know enough about software to know that it's unwise to trust computers with that.''


So in summer 2005, Theisen set out to fix the problem and offer disabled voters a trustworthy and private way to cast their ballots.

Putting two and two together... PDF  | Print |  Email
By Joan Brunwasser, Voting Integrity Editor, OpEdNews   
March 12, 2006
This article appeared on OpEdNews on March 10, 2006. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

I was sitting here posting an article to OpEdNews. It was about how the electronic voting machine corporations are tag-teaming Ion Sancho so that he misses the HAVA deadline and gives Florida the pretext they need to oust him from his job as Supervisor of Elections. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Sancho, he has been an outspoken critic of electronic voting. He invited computer security expert Harri Hursti to Leon County, Florida, to attempt an authorized hack of the memory card of Diebold's Accu-Vote OS 1.94w optical scanner, which has been also used in California and Maryland. The success of the hack brought much needed attention to the vulnerability of these machines. December 13, 2005, was a pivotal day, indeed, for opponents of electronic voting.

I have read positive things about Vote-PAD, a non-electronic voting device for disabled voters. Developed by Ellen Thiessen, founder of VotersUnite, it is user-friendly to disabled of all varieties, is simple, inexpensive and has no costly maintenance expenses (electronic voting machine yearly maintenance cost projections are now up to 1000% higher than previously thought, so this is a legitimate concern). Vote-PAD has been approved for use in Yolo County, CA, as well as in Wisconsin.

All of a sudden, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head. Why not bring these two together - election boards and Vote-PAD?
Wisconsin Approves the Vote-PAD Assistive Device PDF  | Print |  Email
By Vote-PAD Press Release   
January 31, 2006

Port Ludlow, WA - Vote-PAD, Inc. is proud to announce that the Vote-PAD (Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device) has been approved by the Wisconsin State Elections Board for use in hand-counted paper ballot municipalities.

After meeting with U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, Kevin Kennedy, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board, announced the state’s approval of the Vote-PAD. Mr. Kennedy said the attorneys spent considerable time looking at the device and asking questions about its use in the voting process. It was indicated, he said, “that they did not see anything that should stop Wisconsin from proceeding with approval.”


The Vote-PAD is an inexpensive, non-computerized, voter-assist device that helps people with visual or dexterity impairments to independently and privately mark the same paper ballot as other voters. The Vote-PAD was developed to help small towns and counties comply with the accessibility requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. It allows them to continue administering elections the same way they have in the past.

California: Yolo County, California Chooses the Vote-PAD PDF  | Print |  Email
By Vote-PAD Press Release   
January 19, 2006
[Link to Press Release] Vote-PAD, Inc. is proud to announce that it has reached an agreement to provide the Vote-PAD (Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device)  to Yolo County, California to assist persons with disabilities in marking a paper ballot.
Ms. Freddie Oakley, Clerk-Recorder of Yolo County, said, “After an enormous amount of research, we in Yolo County feel lucky to have found this assistive device. My skepticism about computer-controlled voting is well-known, and so is my concern for poll workers. The Vote-PAD is so well thought out, it keeps control of the elections with the people’s servants rather than surrendering it to big corporations. And at the same time it provides the most useful features for persons with a wide variety of disabilities of any assistive device we’ve seen.”
The Vote-PAD is an inexpensive, non-computerized, voter-assist device that helps people with visual or dexterity impairments to vote independently and privately. The Vote-PAD was developed to help small jurisdictions, especially those using hand-counted paper ballots, comply with the accessibility requirement of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002. It allows them to comply without changing their entire election process to accommodate computerized voting. Since its release, it has also gained interest from larger jurisdictions that use optical scanners to count ballots.
Vote-PAD Rocks the Disabled Vote PDF  | Print |  Email
By Kim Zetter, Wired News   
January 19, 2006
This article was published at Wired News on January 19, 2006. It is reposted with permission of the author.

Touch-screen ballot machines billed as the ideal solution for disabled voters are facing unexpected competition from a newly designed system using inexpensive plastic sleeves and paper.

Called the Voting-on-Paper Assistive Device, or Vote-PAD, the device has won high marks from some advocates for the disabled, and has already been selected for use in California's Yolo County in order to meet federal voting-accessibility requirements.

With Vote-PAD, poll workers fit specially designed sleeves over paper ballots. Audio instructions guide visually impaired voters to bumps on the plastic next to each race. Holes in the sleeve corresponding to ovals on the ballot allow voters to mark the ballot with a pencil or pen without going outside the oval. Afterward, voters can run a specially designed LED wand over the ovals to verify their choices.

"This is a very generic, very simple solution," said Freddie Oakley, Yolo County's registrar of voters. "We don't have to train poll workers to do anything complicated."

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