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New Jersey


New Jersey: A Vote for Optical Scan PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By The Times of Trenton   
December 15, 2008
This editorial appeared in The Times of Trenton.

Today, the state Legislature is expected to consider a bill to remove the requirement that voting machines produce voter-verified paper records by Jan. 1, 2009, and to replace that re quirement with a pilot program for adding printers to a few of New Jersey's voting machines.

If the results of that pilot program prove acceptable, the rest of the state's electronic voting machines will be retrofitted with the printers that would allow voters to see their recorded votes, but would not give them actual paper receipts. All that is expected to take years and cost millions.

The intention, to provide paper evidence that a vote is recorded as the voter intends, is admirable. The technology is not.
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Statement of U.S. Representative Rush Holt To the New Jersey Senate State Government Committee PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By US Representative Rush Holt   
December 13, 2008
Chairman Scutari, Vice Chair Weinberg, and honorable Members of the New Jersey Senate State Government Committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you today on the matter of S. 2380, a bill to remove the requirement that voting machines produce voter-verified paper records by January 1, 2009, and to replace that requirement with a pilot program for paper records or ballots. I want to commend Assemblyman Reed Gusciora for his leadership and commitment in securing passage of New Jersey’s paper record requirement in 2005, and to express my very deep disappointment and concern not only that New Jersey has failed to implement it, but is now considering possibility of abolishing the requirement and its timetable for implementation altogether. 

Voting must not be an act of faith, it must be an act of record, and that is why we must implement requirements that make computer-assisted elections independently auditable, and we must do it without further delay. I will explain my concerns in detail below, but let me dispel some possible misconceptions at the outset. First, as you know, I am a physicist, and so I am not arguing in favor of paper-ballot-based voting out of some fear or lack of understanding of the technology we vote on. Second, the original group of experts who helped me draft my legislation when I first introduced it in Congress in 2003 were computer security experts – among the best and most highly-credentialed computer security experts in the country. Therefore, I would also like to think it is obvious that the driving force behind my legislation is not a lack of understanding of computer security risks, but rather a long experience and familiarity with computers, computer security and computer experts. And finally, as you may recall, I have personally experienced human error in vote counting: in my very first run for the seat I now hold, one of the county clerks in my district ascribed my vote totals to my opponent, and newspapers reported that I had lost the race. In fact, you might even say it runs in my family, because my own father was the apparent victim of the theft of paper ballots when he ran for office. So I am not operating under the assumption that human beings are automatically more reliable than computers, nor that paper ballots are fraud-proof and computer tallies are not. The point is – voting must not be an act of faith, it must be an act of record, and independent audit records (voter verified paper ballots) must be required. 

New Jersey enacted such a requirement in 2005. But inexplicably, although more than half of the country has succeeded in implementing such requirements since I first commenced this effort in 2003, New Jersey – once a national leader – is slow to act. Do people in those other states know something we don’t? Say what one will about Frank Hague and wandering paper ballots, if it had been pocket-sized memory cards or cartridges we were using back then, that’s what would have wandered off. Or software would have been modified, if that is what we were using. Whatever the ballots are recorded on, theft is possible and rigorous chain of custody must be required; this is just as true for memory cards and cartridges as it is for paper ballots. 
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Statement of U.S. Representative Rush Holt To the New Jersey Senate State Government Committee PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By US Representative Rush Holt   
December 13, 2008
Chairman Scutari, Vice Chair Weinberg, and honorable Members of the New Jersey Senate State Government Committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you today on the matter of S. 2380, a bill to remove the requirement that voting machines produce voter-verified paper records by January 1, 2009, and to replace that requirement with a pilot program for paper records or ballots. I want to commend Assemblyman Reed Gusciora for his leadership and commitment in securing passage of New Jersey’s paper record requirement in 2005, and to express my very deep disappointment and concern not only that New Jersey has failed to implement it, but is now considering possibility of abolishing the requirement and its timetable for implementation altogether. 

Voting must not be an act of faith, it must be an act of record, and that is why we must implement requirements that make computer-assisted elections independently auditable, and we must do it without further delay. I will explain my concerns in detail below, but let me dispel some possible misconceptions at the outset. First, as you know, I am a physicist, and so I am not arguing in favor of paper-ballot-based voting out of some fear or lack of understanding of the technology we vote on. Second, the original group of experts who helped me draft my legislation when I first introduced it in Congress in 2003 were computer security experts – among the best and most highly-credentialed computer security experts in the country. Therefore, I would also like to think it is obvious that the driving force behind my legislation is not a lack of understanding of computer security risks, but rather a long experience and familiarity with computers, computer security and computer experts. And finally, as you may recall, I have personally experienced human error in vote counting: in my very first run for the seat I now hold, one of the county clerks in my district ascribed my vote totals to my opponent, and newspapers reported that I had lost the race. In fact, you might even say it runs in my family, because my own father was the apparent victim of the theft of paper ballots when he ran for office. So I am not operating under the assumption that human beings are automatically more reliable than computers, nor that paper ballots are fraud-proof and computer tallies are not. The point is – voting must not be an act of faith, it must be an act of record, and independent audit records (voter verified paper ballots) must be required. 

New Jersey enacted such a requirement in 2005. But inexplicably, although more than half of the country has succeeded in implementing such requirements since I first commenced this effort in 2003, New Jersey – once a national leader – is slow to act. Do people in those other states know something we don’t? Say what one will about Frank Hague and wandering paper ballots, if it had been pocket-sized memory cards or cartridges we were using back then, that’s what would have wandered off. Or software would have been modified, if that is what we were using. Whatever the ballots are recorded on, theft is possible and rigorous chain of custody must be required; this is just as true for memory cards and cartridges as it is for paper ballots. 

Read more...
New Jersey Poised to Reverse Verifiable Elections Law PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By VerifiedVoting.org   
November 20, 2008
Voters to be Let Down Again

Legislation introduced today in the New Jersey Assembly threatens to undo a commitment to verified elections the state made nearly four years ago, VerifiedVoting.org warned today.

“New Jersey threatens to set a new standard for irresponsible delay with this bill,” said VerifiedVoting.org president Pamela Smith. “New Jersey's e-voting machines have reported inconsistent results in both the primary and the Presidential election, and have been found by top computer scientists to be insecure and inaccurate. Adopting a reliable, auditable, verifiable system is the only correct response.”

Following the publication last month of a severely critical study by Princeton University computer scientists, Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi acknowledged the machines' problems and encouraged voters to vote absentee rather than use the machines. In the February 2008 Presidential primary, machines in 8 New Jersey counties reported inconsistent totals in the internal memory and removable memory cartridges.

The bill introduced today by Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (A3458) would undo the state's present law requiring voter-verifiable paper records by January 2009. In its place, a pilot program for small jurisdictions in the June 2009 primary would study the “feasibility” of paper records, with the results evaluated over the summer. The timeline would all but guarantee that the 2009 gubernatorial election would be conducted on the state's current electronic machines.
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Judge Suppresses Report on Voting Machine Security PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By Andrew Appel   
October 03, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission.

A judge of the New Jersey Superior Court has prohibited the scheduled release of a report on the security and accuracy of the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine. Last June, Judge Linda Feinberg ordered Sequoia Voting Systems to turn over its source code to me (serving as an expert witness, assisted by a team of computer scientists) for a thorough examination. At that time she also ordered that we could publish our report 30 days after delivering it to the Court--which should have been today.

Three weeks after we delivered the report, on September 24th Judge Feinberg ordered us not to release it. This is part of a lawsuit filed by the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, seeking to decommission of all of New Jersey's voting computers. New Jersey mostly uses Sequoia AVC Advantage direct-recording electronic (DRE) models. None of those DREs can be audited: they do not produce a voter verified paper ballot that permit each voter to create a durable paper record of her electoral choices before casting her ballot electronically on a DRE. The legal basis for the lawsuit is quite simple: because there is no way to know whether the DRE voting computer is actually counting votes as cast, there is no proof that the voting computers comply with the constitution or with statutory law that require that all votes be counted as cast.

The question of whether this report can legally be suppressed was already argued once in this Court, in June 2008, and the Court concluded then that it should be released; I will discuss this below. But as a matter of basic policy--of running a democracy--the public and legislators who want to know the basic facts about the reliability of their elections need to be able to read reports such as this one. Members of the New Jersey Legislature--who need to act now because the NJ Secretary of State is not in compliance with laws the legislature passed in 2005--have asked to read this report, but they are precluded by the Court's order. Members of the public must decide now, in time to request an absentee ballot, whether to cast their ballot by absentee (counted by optical scan) or to vote on paperless DRE voting machines. Citizens also need information so that they can communicate to their legislators their opinions about how New Jersey should conduct elections. Even the Governor and the Secretary of State of New Jersey are not permitted, by the Court's order, to read this report in order to inform their policy making.
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The Most Basic Ingredient of Democracy PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By Thurman Hart   
June 24, 2008

This column appeared in the June 23 edition of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Daniel Webster once stated, "Whatever government is not a government of laws, is a despotism, let it be called what it may." I can't help that he may have been thinking of something like Hudson County when he said it. Even in New Jersey's freewheeling political atmosphere, Hudson County is a special case. Many would like us to think that place is in history, not in contemporary actions. I would disagree.

There has been nothing so fundamental to political perfidy in Hudson County than electoral malfeasance. Unsurprisingly, our latest attempt at an election is being contested. And, it appears, rightfully so. The problem is that the recount is unlikely to shed any light on what is wrong in Hudson County.

Read the Entire Article
ACLU-New Jersey Demands End to Voting Machine Gag Order PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By ACLU-NJ Media Release   
June 10, 2008
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, New Jersey Press Association, North Jersey Media Group and New Jersey Foundation for Open Government today submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the NJ Superior Court, seeking reversal of an order that silences experts from discussing future findings about the state's Sequoia voting machines even if concealing their findings could compromise the integrity of elections.

In May, the court agreed to let investigators examine the machines. But the court prohibited those experts from discussing their findings until the case is finished, including through appeals, even if they believe there are errors or the system can be hacked.

"If the flaws in voting machines are under wraps until this case is over, the November election will have come and gone long before we'll know whether our votes were accurately counted," said Lawrence Lustberg of Gibbons PC, who, along with Avidan Cover of Gibbons PC, wrote the brief on behalf of the ACLU-NJ. "Our state has the responsibility to uphold our constitutional right to vote, and the public has the right to know when that right is threatened."
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New Jersey Deserves a Better Voting System PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By Pamela Smith, Verified Voting Foundation   
March 25, 2008
This oped was published in  The Trenton Times.

It's exasperating.

The New Jersey Legislature passed a requirement for a voter-verifiable paper record of each vote cast nearly three years ago. The 2005 law required voter- verified paper records by January 2008, an eminently feasible deadline. (It even added a cutting-edge audit law this January, requiring random checks on the paper records to make sure the machines are counting accurately.)

Yet, in spite of these forward- thinking precautions designed to safeguard the integrity of the vote this November, New Jersey's citizens will be voting on a paperless, unverifiable voting system -- one that can't be audited or recounted -- again. The Legislature has just voted to extend, for a second time, the deadline for a voter-verifiable system until January 2009.

Some lawmakers grasp the problem -- the Senate vote of 27-12 in favor of the extension was much closer than the Assembly vote, and some spoke eloquently before the vote about the problem of having no way to confirm that the votes are counted as cast. Though they are learning that verifiable voting systems are available right now, they act as if their hands are tied, as if they don't realize that a solution has been available all along. New Jersey's voters deserve better. Gov. Jon Corzine should veto the delay.
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New York Times Editorial: Unreliable Voting in New Jersey PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By New York Times   
March 22, 2008
Voters nationwide have seen that electronic voting cannot be trusted, and New Jerseyans are the latest to learn this unfortunate lesson. It is now clear that the state’s machines produced suspicious results in the Feb. 5 presidential primary. Rather than working to put doubts to rest, the machines’ manufacturer is resisting a proper inquiry. New Jersey needs to quickly get to the bottom of the problem to ensure voters that in November their ballots will be counted accurately.

At least five of New Jersey’s 21 counties have reported discrepancies in the tallies of a small number of their machines. Election officials insist that the inconsistencies, which involve the number of Republican and Democratic voters casting ballots, do not affect the accuracy of the vote counts, but there is no way to be sure.

When the Union County clerk, Joanne Rajoppi, learned of the problem, she did the responsible thing and moved to have a respected independent computer scientist from Princeton University examine the faulty machines. The machines’ manufacturer, Sequoia Voting Systems, responded by threatening to sue.

Read the Entire Editorial at The New York Times
Evidence of New Jersey Election Discrepancies PDF  | Print |  Email
New Jersey
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
March 19, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Press reports on the recent New Jersey voting discrepancies have been a bit vague about the exact nature of the evidence that showed up on election day. What has the county clerks, and many citizens, so concerned? Today I want to show you some of the evidence.

The evidence is a “summary tape” printed by a Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine in Hillside, New Jersey when the polls closed at the end of the presidential primary election. The tape is timestamped 8:02 PM, February 5, 2008.

The summary tape is printed by poll workers as part of the ordinary procedure for closing the polls. It is signed by several poll workers and sent to the county clerk along with other records of the election.
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