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New York: Breakthrough at the Board? PDF  | Print |  Email
New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
January 22, 2008
New York Could Vote on Paper Ballots

This article appeared at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Pressure from Judge Gary Sharpe's order for the State to put Ballot Marking Devices in place for the 2008 Election may at last force the New York State Board of Elections to authorize a single state wide paper ballot marker  and scanner system. Unquestionably, there are many benefits to using only one voting system throughout the state, and it’s obvious that touch screen voting machines, or DREs, are the worst possible choice for New York in light of huge costs and the number of states rapidly abandoning failed DRE technology. But so far the State Board has refused to do what’s right for New York's voters and have kept DRE vendor hopes alive, even going so far as to recklessly allow vendors to submit DREs to use as Ballot Marking Devices  - a purpose they are not designed for, can’t fulfill (see why here, here, and here) and which was protested by NYVV and a coalition of advocacy organizations.

But sources at the State Board of Elections tell me that the small number of submitted systems, and the Board’s inability to agree on what actually constitutes a Ballot Marking Device, could result in only one system being authorized at the Board’s crucial meeting on Wednesday, 1/23/08 – a combination ballot marker and scanner which would virtually guarantee that New Yorkers will vote on paper ballots when lever machines are retired in 2009.


This outcome could potentially please everyone - citizen groups who have long called for a single statewide voting system; county legislatures, editorial boards and citizens across New York State who’ve advocated for voting on paper ballots; even county election commissioners would be glad to have the machine decision be made where it belongs - with the State Board of Elections. One caveat however, the decision to authorize one system for the entire state is being made not because it has been judged the most accessible, user friendly, or accurate, but because a partisan split at the Board leaves only one option left on the table.
Read more...
Connecticut: Coalition Says Changes Needed in Election Audits PDF  | Print |  Email
Connecticut
By Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition   
January 22, 2008
Four good government groups have proposed 18 recommendations to improve the state’s post-election audit process to assure the integrity of the vote in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition recommended 18 steps to a more effective and meaningful post-election audit process for all future elections in the state. The group’s report summarized the observations of more than 50 impartial citizen observers at 31 state-mandated post-election audits conducted by local officials following November’s municipal elections. Observers came from the membership ranks of the coalition partners—the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Common Cause Connecticut, the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, and CTVotersCount.

Coalition spokesperson Luther Weeks noted, “Many of the audits, as observed, leave us uncertain as to whether an error or fraud would have been detected in an audited race in this election. More rigorous controls and consistency in manual counting procedures are needed throughout the state, along with follow-up investigations to explain variations in the tallies to attribute discrepancies either to machine or to human error. ”

League Vice President Cheryl Dunson stated that, “in light of the growing use of electronic voting technology throughout the country, elections officials and good government groups are re-examining their election operations. The coalition recommends that the Secretary of the State provide local elections officials with specific directions for auditing and reporting, make a full public report of all post-election audit results, and establish clear criteria for further investigation of audit discrepancies”. The group urged state elections officials to seek out national efforts on “best practices” for conducting audits and ensuring maximum transparency in the audit process. The coalition’s report and a statistical summary is available online at http://www.CTElectionAudits.org
Maryland: Governor O'Malley Funds Voting System Change PDF  | Print |  Email
Maryland
By Save Our Votes Media Release   
January 16, 2008
New, Less Expensive System Will Allow for Recounts

Save Our Votes (SOV) sent its congratulations to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley today for including in his proposed budget for the next fiscal year funds for the purchase of a new voting system based on paper ballots counted by optical scanners in each precinct.
 
The Governor has long advocated replacing the state's paperless touch-screen system. His action today is supported by nearly two-thirds of Maryland voters, according to a recent statewide public opinion poll by Gonzales Research. [www.saveourvotes.org/releases]
 
"We are delighted that the Governor and the General Assembly have responded to the voters and moved forcefully to replace our risky system with one that will be both secure and cost-effective,
" Robert Ferraro, co-director of SOV said today.
 
The new system will allow voters to ensure that their votes are recorded as they intend to cast them, and provide a means for independent recounts, capabilities which are not possible with the current voting system. This change will bring Maryland into line with the many other states that have recently abandoned touch-screen voting in favor of voter-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanners. Florida expects to have optical scanners in place statewide before this year’s presidential election. California and Ohio have both enacted severe restrictions on the use of touch-screen voting machines after thorough reviews of their security and reliability.
Read more...
TrueVote Applauds O'Malley For Funding Transition to Paper Ballot PDF  | Print |  Email
Maryland
By TrueVote Maryland   
January 16, 2008
Urges Legislature to Keep Funding in Budget

Today, TrueVoteMD.org thanked Governor Martin O'Malley for including $3.4 million in his budget to transition Maryland back to a voting system based on paper ballots counted by optical scanners.

"This is a historic step for election integrity in Maryland.  Governor O'Malley promised to fund the bill and kept his promise.  A return to paper ballots is widely supported by the Maryland voters and will save the state money by reducing the costs of election administration. It is a smart fiscal decision as well as a good decision for the health of our democracy," said Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of TrueVoteMD.org. 

TrueVoteMD.org is the largest election integrity organization in the state with members in all of the states 23 counties.  It has worked for five years to put in place a voter verified paper ballot. "We are near the culmination of five years of citizen effort.  The final hurdle is to protect this funding from being cut from the budget by the legislature.   TrueVoteMD.org will be working with the legislature to ensure this transition is completed," said Zeese.
New York and New Hampshire PDF  | Print |  Email
New Hampshire
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
January 12, 2008
New Hampshire has what New York needs

This article was posted at Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I fully support calls for a recount in New Hampshire. That's why we want paper ballots, so we can audit. As far as I'm concerned, audits are ALWAYS warranted, regardless of the reason. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why New Yorkers for Verified Voting has worked so hard for paper ballots in New York State - so we can audit and recount.

That being said, I personally believe the claims being made by some that fraud was perpetrated in New Hampshire based on polls are premature. The majority of people who look closely at elections know that there’s many reasons why poll results might vary from actual results. The differences in the New Hampshire polls and the results could easily be accounted for by undecideds, people who don't want to talk to pollsters, or simply the inherent inaccuracy of polls. As I learn more about auditing and talk with statisticians I've come to see that polls are not sufficient to use as a benchmark for fraud.

While the majority of advocates in the Election Integrity movement don’t see anything astonishing about the New Hampshire results, others are saying that the primary proves that paper ballots and scanners should not be chosen to replace lever machines in New York State. But there is no evidence to draw that conclusion. What New Hampshire has that New York needs is auditable paper ballots. New Hampshire will be able to recount and audit their election. That’s a very good thing and I hope they do it soon.

Let me repeat this, because it's important: I fully support calls for a recount in New Hampshire, because audits are ALWAYS warranted. Indeed, this is what we've worked for all these years.
Arizona: Databases for Elections Released to Democrats PDF  | Print |  Email
Arizona
By Garry Duffy, Tucson Citizen   
January 12, 2008
Pima County Elections Division officials Friday turned over the computer databases for the 2006 elections to the Pima County Democratic Party, as directed by the Board of Supervisors earlier this week.

Democrats sought the databases - electronic records of the county's Diebold-GEMS voting system and ballot tabulating procedures - to look for irregularities that might show vote tampering.

Party officials also plan to use the information to create a tool that will automatically analyze elections systems and vote tabulations for aberrations that could point to elections fraud.

The Democrats prevailed in a lawsuit filed last year seeking the databases.

Elections officials and County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry had refused their request to examine them.

The surrender of the databases to a political party as part of their role as official elections observers may set a precedent.

"This is the biggest release of electronic data files ever in this country," said John R. Brakey, one of the computer experts assisting the Democrats in their case.

Read the Entire Article at The Tucson Citizen
New Hampshire Secretary of State Announces Statewide Recount PDF  | Print |  Email
New Hampshire
By New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner Press Release   
January 11, 2008
Secretary of State William M. Gardner (pictured at right) announced today that Albert Howard, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Republican Party Primary and Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Democratic Party, have requested a recount of all ballots cast statewide.

Mr. Howard and Mr. Kucinich have satisfied the requirements for initiating a statewide recount of the Republican and Democratic Primary.

Secretary of State William M. Gardner will estimate the cost of the recounts, which must be paid by the candidate(s) for the recount to proceed.

Secretary of State Gardner announced that the recounts will start Wednesday, January 16, 2008.

The time and location for the start of the recount process will be announced after the estimate has been completed and payment of the estimated cost has been received.

New Hampshire law, RSA 660:7, provides that “any person for whom a vote was cast for any nomination of any party at a state or presidential primary may apply for a recount.” RSA 660:2, IV provides that if the difference between the vote cast for the applying candidate and a candidate declared elected shall be greater than 3 percent of the total votes cast in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted, the candidate shall pay the fees provided in RSA 660:2, III and shall agree in writing with the secretary of state to pay any additional costs of the recount.” RSA 660:6 provides that if the person requesting the recount is declared the winner after the recount or loses by a margin of less than one percent of the total votes cast, the fees for the recount will be refunded by the State.

Secretary of State Gardner reports that the last time New Hampshire did a statewide recount of the results of the Presidential Primary was in 1980.

Unofficial results indicate that Albert Howard received 44 votes for nomination in the Republican Primary and Dennis Kucinich received 3,901 votes for nomination in the Democratic Primary.
Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount in the Interest of Election Integrity PDF  | Print |  Email
New Hampshire
By Dennis Kucinich Media Release   
January 10, 2008
KucinichDemocratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken advocate in the Presidential field and in Congress for election integrity, paper-ballot elections, and campaign finance reform, has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday’s election because of “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.”


“I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf,” Kucinich stressed in a letter to Secretary of State William M. Gardner. But, “Serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few days…It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery – not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a primary election.”

Also, the reports, allegations, and rumors regarding possible vote-count irregularities have been further fueled by the stunning disparities between various “independent” pre-election polls and the actual election results," Kucinich wrote. "The integrity, credibility, and value of independent polling are separate issues, but they appear to be relevant in the context of New Hampshire’s votes."
 
He added, “Ever since the 2000 election – and even before – the American people have been losing faith in the belief that their votes were actually counted. This recount isn’t about who won 39% of 36% or even 1%. It’s about establishing whether 100% of the voters had 100% of their votes counted exactly the way they cast them.”
 
Kucinich, who drew about 1.4% of the New Hampshire Democratic primary vote, wrote, “This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy. It is about the integrity of the election process.” No other Democratic candidate, he noted, has stepped forward to question or pursue the claims being made.
 
“New Hampshire is in the unique position to address – and, if so determined, rectify – these issues before they escalate into a massive, nationwide suspicion of the process by which Americans elect their President. Based on the controversies surrounding the Presidential elections in 2004 and 2000, New Hampshire is in a prime position to investigate possible irregularities and to issue findings for the benefit of the entire nation,” Kucinich wrote in his letter.
 
“Without an official recount, the voters of New Hampshire and the rest of the nation will never know whether there are flaws in our electoral system that need to be identified and addressed at this relatively early point in the Presidential nominating process,” said Kucinich, who is campaigning in Michigan this week in advance of next Tuesday’s Presidential primary in that state.

Maryland: 2008 Election Judge Training PDF  | Print |  Email
Maryland
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
January 10, 2008
This article was posted at Avi Rubin's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I attended my Maryland election judge training session today. It was a 3 hours class for returning judges. There was really nothing new for me. I've already worked 4 elections using the Diebold Accuvote machines, and we will be using them again this year. I did, however, notice a change in the tone of the class.


Right up front, the instructor told us that the three most important factors for us to consider are "Security, Integrity, and Accuracy". These three things were stressed throughout the day. The instructor talked about the 20/20 segment where a hacker was able to change tallies on the machine (I think it was Harri Hursti), and told us of a new tamper tape that was placed on the corner of the machine where there is a screw for opening up the casing. As before, I had a good look at this tamper tape and determined that it would be extremely difficult to tell if the tape had been voided or not. I think these tamper tapes are emperor's clothes designed to make administrators feel good. One of the trainers referred to it as the "Lou Dobbs seal", in reference to Lou Dobbs' coverage of e-voting problems leading up to the 2006 election.

Read more...
Ohio Report Faults Montana Voting Machines PDF  | Print |  Email
Montana
By League of Women Voters of Montana   
January 06, 2008

Ohio has just done Montana voters a huge favor.

Last summer, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asked an independent review team of nationally accredited academic and corporate computer and election experts to test Ohio’s voting machines. Many are the same machines used in Montana to count our votes.

The results?

Released on December 14th, the $1.9 million EVEREST review found “critical security failures” in machines made by Election Systems and Software (ES&S).   Forty-four of Montana’s fifty-six counties use one or more ES&S machines. M100 precinct counters are used in twenty-three Montana counties, the 650 central counters in eleven and the AutoMARK in all.

Researchers found the M100 optical scanners are “susceptible to attacks at the polling location that could affect election integrity,” and “an unauthorized individual could delete records of votes by zeroing out the vote totals.” The 650 central counter was, “successfully tampered to alter elections data in erratic ways and with obvious, but unpredictable results.”  The AutoMARK’s sensitive inner machine was easily accessed by disassembling its cover.

A key finding of the review was that ES&S had “failed to adopt, implement and follow industry standard best practices in the development of the system.” Many of these weaknesses have been known for several years, yet continue to exist in ES&S systems.
Read more...
Tennessee: Laptop Theft May Deter Voters PDF  | Print |  Email
Tennessee
By Colby Sledge, Tennesseean staff writer   
January 02, 2008

Political watchdogs fear possible breach may cause public to cast doubt, not ballots

 

The theft of computers containing personal information of all registered Davidson County voters could hurt voter turnout in upcoming elections, a political watchdog group says.

 

Laptop computers stolen from the Davidson County Election Commission over the Christmas holiday may contain voters' Social Security numbers along with other personal information, potentially putting more than 337,000 registered Davidson County voters at risk of identity theft.

 

That could persuade potential voters in the upcoming presidential primaries to avoid the process altogether, according to Deborah Narrigan, a member of the watchdog group Common Cause Tennessee.

 

"If you can't trust that the commission can safely handle your Social Security number, it would raise doubts for a lot of people about its ability to secure other parts of the voting process," Narrigan said.

 

Read the Entire Article at the Nashville Tennessean 

Pennsylvania: New Voting System Funded PDF  | Print |  Email
Pennsylvania
By David Singleton, Times Tribune staff writer   
January 02, 2008

Lackawanna County taxpayers will catch a huge break on the acquisition of new voting machines.

 

The state Department of State agreed Monday to reimburse the county up to $1.7 million to help pay for a new voting system for the April 22 primary to replace the Advanced Voting Solutions electronic machines that were decertified last week.

Similar offers will be extended to Wayne and Northampton counties, which also have the now useless AVS touch-screen devices, Department of State spokeswoman Leslie Amoros said.

The announcement of the state’s decision came late Monday afternoon from the transition office of Democratic Commissioner Mike Washo and Commissioner-elect Corey O’Brien, who will become the majority on Jan. 7.

“This is a victory for all the taxpayers,” Mr. O’Brien said at a hastily arranged news conference, where he and Mr. Washo were joined by attorneys Lawrence Moran and Gerard Karam, who have been working on the voting machine issue for the transition team,.

According to a letter to Mr. Moran and Mr. Karam from Harry VanSickle, who heads the state Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation, the department will reimburse the county for the procurement of a new voting system up to the invoice price of its AVS system.

In 2006, Lackawanna County purchased 500 electronic voting machines from AVS for $1.7 million. The new machines were necessary to bring the county into compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act, which barred the use of the mechanical lever machines voters had used since 1930.

 

Read the Entire rticle at the Scranton Times Tribune 

Colorado Secretary of State Wants Paper Ballots in Precinct Polling Locations PDF  | Print |  Email
Colorado
By Al Kolwicz, Colorado Voter Group   
December 27, 2007
Paper ballots in precinct polling locations is the Colorado SOS's recommendation for 2008, but, before it can happen, SOS Coffman must first stop the Colorado Legislature from changing the law.

Some legislators support those Colorado Clerks who want to override the people's 2002 vote against mandatory mail ballot elections. For clerks, mandatory mail ballot elections are less trouble. Poll watchers cannot see what is happening, and clerks do not need to deal with pesky election judges and private voting booths. Instead of election judges, clerks get to hand-pick temporary workers to perform the election duties - no questions asked. Pure and simple, this is a battle between the clerks and the voters, between fast and cheap vs. verifiably accurate.

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon is organizing a public event for January 3rd. He will give the public an opportunity to sound off. There will be no discussion. There will be no answers. Colorado officials have done
everything possible to avoid direct confrontation with voting system advocates and canvass boards.

Gordon (Dem) lost to Coffman (Rep) in the 2006 Secretary of state election. Coffman is currently running for US Congress. If Coffman wins, the open Secretary of State position will be filled by Governor Bill Ritter (Dem) who is most likely to appoint Ken Gordon. Is there some conflict of interest going on here?

Colorado Voter Group has submitted a one page framework for the 2008 elections. It calls voting with paper ballots in polling locations, absentee and early voting using paper ballots, minimum number of DRE voting machines with the requirement that the electronic ballots be discarded and the printed votes on the VVPAT be duplicated onto paper ballots. It calls for significantly intensified verification and auditing to support the
counting of votes by hand or by optical scan equipment.

We are focusing on transparency and verifiability of every step. By detecting security and accuracy faults, we hope to minimize the effect of faulty DRE and optical scan equipment.
Virginia: Election Advocates Urge New Security Measures PDF  | Print |  Email
Virginia
By Verifiable Voting Coalition of Virginia   
December 21, 2007
The Verifiable Voting Coalition of Virginia (VVCV) will seek new legislation this year to provide meaningful recounts in close elections and to ensure that new paper-based election systems are audited for accuracy.

In hallmark legislation last year, the General Assembly banned further purchases of touchscreen voting machines, known as direct record electronic, or DRE, machines. The machines have been shown to be vulnerable to manipulation and error, and do not permit voters to verify that their choices have been correctly recorded. The decision to phase out DREs puts Virginia in line with a number of other states that have recently decided to abandon DREs in the face of security concerns.

Local Virginia jurisdictions that use DREs are expected to replace them over the next few years with optical scanners that read paper ballots. The scanners tally the votes, and the paper ballots are retained as a “paper trail.” But there are currently no requirements for anyone to examine the paper trail—and that, say VVCV members, is a critical next step.

“Optical scanning is a more secure, less expensive, and voter-verifiable technology,” says Jeremy Epstein, a nationally-recognized expert in election machine security and a co-founder of Virginia Verified Voting, one of the coalition members. “But the point of having a paper trail is to look at the paper. Any machine can make errors, and some can potentially be tampered with. So until you actually have a system in place to audit a small, randomly-selected set of machines by comparing the machine tallies with the paper ballots, voters still can’t have confidence in the integrity of the vote count.”
Read more...
Colorado: Secretary of State's Campaign Advisers Also Represent E-Voting Firm PDF  | Print |  Email
Colorado
By Myung Oak Kim and Lynn Bartels, Rocky Mountain News   
December 20, 2007

The political consulting company running Secretary of State Mike Coffman's congressional campaign also was working for a voting machine manufacturer when Coffman gave that company's devices his seal of approval on Monday.

 

Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold, was the only one of four voting machine companies to have all of its equipment conditionally approved for use in 2008 elections. Premier hired Phase Line Strategies, a Highlands Ranch consulting firm, in September to lobby on its behalf, records show.

 

Phase Line also is running Coffman's campaign to take over U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo's 6th Congressional District seat. Coffman said he hired Phase Line in November but has been talking to them since the summer.

"This is an outrageous conflict of interest," said Paul Hultin, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit that resulted in Coffman's certification process. Hultin said Premier's machines are known to be flawed and there was no credible basis for Coffman to certify them. "This explains what was going on," he said.

 

Coffman and a Phase Line official both deny that Premier got any special consideration in the lengthy review of Colorado's electronic voting systems. "There was absolutely no outside influences that affected any of my decisions on the vendors," Coffman said Wednesday night.

 

Chris Riggall, spokesman for Premier, said the company found out Wednesday night about Phase Line's connection to Coffman. "That was certainly news to us and of great concern to us . . . and effective tonight that relationship is terminated," he said.

 

"Oh my God!" said Claudia Kuhns, executive director of the Voter Integrity Project, an advocacy group that pushes for accurate and verifiable elections. "I thought (the certification process) was politically capricious before but now I really do. "When you have a situation where there's the appearance of impropriety, it really causes one to be completely distrustful of the entire process."

 

Read the Entire Article at Rocky Mountain News 

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