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Hawaii's Voting Systems Contract In Limbo PDF  | Print |  Email
Hawaii
By Warren Stewart, Verified Voting Foundation   
May 19, 2008
The status of Hawaii’s voting equipment remains in limbo after the state procuement office last week denied a request by Hawaii’s election director Kevin Cronin for an exemption that would have allowed him to proceed with a temporary voting system contract.

The dispute began when the state awarded a $43.4 million contract to Hart Intercivic to provide voting machines through the 2016 elections, with an option for the 2018 elections. Election Systems & Software (ES&S) had submitted an $18.1 million bid for the contract and had challenged the state’s decision.

The vendor’s initial appeal and request that the contract with Hart be rescinded to the state election board was rejected in March. At issue was the weight given to various factors in evaluating the two bids, which assigned the system's price as worth only 15 percent of the total proposed evaluation score.

In their complaint, ES&S contended that "Because the assigned price was so low, Hart was not disadvantaged in the scoring by its extraordinarily high price." At the time Cronin observed that protests about the weighting formula should have been made before bidding.

"ES&S did not in any manner at any time question, challenge, contest, or in any way express any concern about the ... cost price analysis or the relative weighting of pricing," Cronin wrote in his March decision.
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May 20 Snapshot: Kentucky and Oregon PDF  | Print |  Email
Kentucky
By Sean Flaherty, Verified Voting Foundation   
May 19, 2008
Oregon and Kentucky are both moving in the direction of both paper ballots and post-election audits. The two states make an interesting contrast at this stage.  All of Oregon's votes will be cast on voter-marked paper ballots, but the state's new post-election audit law affects general elections only, so the May 20 primary election will not be audited. In Kentucky, most of the votes will be cast on paperless electronic machines, but the state requires a post-election audit of 3-5% of the ballots cast in elections. 

Kentucky

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Greyson has urged counties to consider choosing paper ballot voting systems, and in 2007 state Attorney General Gregory Stumbo issued a report on the security of the Hart, Diebold/Premier, and ES&S equipment. A number of  counties have switched to paper ballot voting systems as the primary system, using the Hart eScan. The Hart eSlate DRE will be used in these counties' polling places for accessibility.  Jefferson County, the largest in the state, uses Premier/Diebold optical scanners with the TS touch screen DRE for accessibility.  In all, almost 700,000 voters, about 25% of the  over 2.8 million registered voters in Kentucky, live in counties where paper ballot scanners are the primary voting system. 

5 counties, with approximately 50,000 voters total, use the ES&S iVotronic as the sole system.  18 counties, with over 240,000 voters, use the Microvote 464 for the primary system, and the iVotronic for accessibility. Fayette and Monroe counties, with about 180,000 voters, use the Hart eSlate as the only polling-place system.  The remainder of the state's counties, with between 55% and 60% of the voters, use the paperless Danaher Shouptronic as the primary system, and the Hart eSlate for accessibility.  Kentucky does not offer no-excuse absentee voting.

Oregon

Oregon is well known for its statewide Vote by Mail system.  According to the Secretary of State's office, an "extraordinarily high" number of voters have changed party affiliation for the primary, resulting in a number of voters receiving two ballots, one for the voter's previous party registration, and one reflecting the voter's new registration. The May 18 Oregonian reported that the double mailing affected approximately 33,500 voters.  Voters had until April 29 to switch party affiliation for the primary. The primary is closed to non-affiliated voters; major parties may choose to allow non-affiliated voters, though neither the Democrats nor the Republicans do so at this time.

Oregon has recently implemented a one-of-a-kind system for serving voters with disabilities, an Alternative Ballot Format that allows voters who cannot mark a printed ballot to use a computer station to "mark, print, verify, and cast a ballot using a personal computer, scanner, and printer."  Each county election office will have two computer stations to serve voters who do not have access to a personal computer, including one portable station that can be taken to the voter if the voter is unable to leave home. 
Landmark Election Recount Bill Becomes Law in Minnesota PDF  | Print |  Email
Minnesota
By Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota   
May 19, 2008
Minnesota continues to improve its election transparency and accountability standards with passage of an innovative law allowing losing candidates to call for manual recounts in select precincts. Called the “partial discretionary recount,” the law believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, is a cost-effective way for candidates to have the election results in specific precincts verified.  
 
The law expands on provisions of Minnesota’s recount law which provides for recounts in races within a margin of victory of 0.5%. Under the new added provision, candidates in any contest with a 5% margin of victory may call for a hand recount, at their expense, of up to three precincts. If the requested recount shows a difference greater than 0.5% compared to the Election Day results, there will be hand recounting of additional precincts. That could lead to a contest-wide recount if more disparities between the reported results and the hand counts are discovered. 
 
The requesting candidate is responsible for the initial recount expenses – unless the outcome of the race is changed by the recount. In that case, the election body that has jurisdiction over the miscounted ballots will be liable for associated costs (which is generally staff time). The financial burden often deters candidates from seeking a recount. This bill makes recounts more accessible.
 
The bill was passed unanimously by both the Minnesota House and Senate and was signed into law Saturday, May 17, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
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Kansas Governor Sebelius Vetoes Voter ID Bill PDF  | Print |  Email
Kansas
By Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius   
May 19, 2008
Governor’s Veto Message for HB 2019

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius issued the following statement on her veto of Kansas HB 2019

We have a rich history and tradition in Kansas of working to increase citizen participation in our democracy. Voting has become easier and more convenient in our state over the past decade due to measures like advance voting.

Here in Kansas and across the country, we have seen a record number of new voters active in the election process. Secretaries of State across the country are anticipating record-breaking turnout in November. We must take advantage of this opportunity to engage the next generation of leaders and decision makers in the political process, and ensure their participation continues throughout their lifetimes.

Additionally, no elected official should support enacting new laws discouraging or disenfranchising any American who has been legally voting for years. I cannot support creating any roadblock to prevent our citizens from adding their voices to the democratic discourse that makes our nation great.

The Secretary of State’s office is charged with the oversight of elections in Kansas and our hard working county clerks and election officials deserve thanks for ensuring the integrity of the democratic process. I have the utmost confidence in their diligence to guarantee secure and fair elections across our state. HB 2019 seeks to solve a problem of voter fraud which does not exist in our state due to the tireless efforts of our local election officials.
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Tennessee Passes Paper Ballot Legislation PDF  | Print |  Email
Tennessee
By Warren Stewart, Verified Voting Foundation   
May 18, 2008
Tennessee Voter Confidence Act Will Also Establish Random Post-Election Audits and Prohibit the Use of Wireless Devices in Voting Systems

On May 15, the Tennessee State Senate unanimously passed SB 1363 The Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, a sweeping reform of the state’s voting technology. Minor differences between the Senate bill and the House companion HB 1256, passed earlier in the week, are expected to be easily resolved and the bill sent to Gov. Phil Bredesen for his signature next week. The overwhelming support for the bill resulted from the steadfast efforts of state and national voting advocates and a report from the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) that recommended many of the measures in the legislation.

The bill would require that any voting system purchased and deployed in the state after January 1, 2009 use precinct-based optical scanners. The bill as amended in the Senate would use Federal funding provided to the state as a result of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to fund the replacement of currently deployed direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. The bill explicitly calls for counties to purchase ballot-marking devices to meet the Federal requirement to provide voters with disabilities a means of voting privately and independently.

In addition to moving the state toward voter marked paper ballot systems, the bill will also require each county election commission, for each election, to conduct mandatory hand count audits of at least 3% of the voter marked paper ballots of at least the top race in the federal, state, county, or municipal election, if on the ballot. This bill details the procedures for the audits, including the random selection of precincts, the timing of the audits, and the public announcement of the results of the audit, and provides for additional hand count audits when the results of the first audit show a variance of more than 1 percent between the hand count and the unofficial machine vote count to resolve any concerns and ensure the accuracy of the results.
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Missouri: Proposed Photo ID Legislation Failed PDF  | Print |  Email
Missouri
By Missourians for Fair Elections   
May 16, 2008
Constitutional Change to Restrict Voting Rights Faced Groundswell of Opposition from Across the State

In a victory for all voters, Missouri lawmakers ended this year’s legislative session without a final vote on legislation that could have prevented up to 240,000 Missourians from voting. The proposed change would have altered Missouri’s constitution, allowing for strict citizenship and government-issued photo ID requirements that would make Missouri one of the toughest states in the country for eligible, law-abiding citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot.

“I am relieved that I will be able to vote this fall,” said Lillie Lewis, a St. Louis city resident, “I’ve been voting in every election since I can remember, but if I needed my birth certificate, that would be the end of that. I hope this is the last we hear of this nonsense.” Lillie Lewis was born in Mississippi, but the state sent her a letter stating they have no record of her birth.

Birdell Owen, a Missouri resident who was displaced by hurricane Katrina, also voiced her relief. “I should be able to participate in my democracy,” she said, “even if Louisiana can’t get me a copy of my birth certificate. I’m glad Missouri politicians had the sense to protect my right to vote.”
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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 southernstudies.org.

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.
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Grayson Issues Warning to Kentucky Citizens about Voter Registration Effort PDF  | Print |  Email
Kentucky
By Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson   
May 12, 2008
Secretary of State Trey Grayson issued a warning to Kentucky citizens that his office has learned that a voting group has sent thousands of potentially confusing mailings to women across Kentucky asking them to register to vote.  These mailings could cause confusion for Kentuckians because the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming May primary has already passed.  According to the group, “Women’s Voices. Women Vote.” (WVWV), the voter registration mailings were part of a larger nationwide mailing. Grayson encouraged voters to still consider registering to vote so that they will be eligible for the fall general election, but wanted to make sure that citizens understood that any new registrants registering after the April 21st deadline will not be able to vote in the May primary.

“I appreciate Women’s Voices Women Vote letting us know about this possibly confusing situation for Kentucky voters,” stated Secretary Grayson.  “It is important to stress that citizens can still register to vote for the November general election, but they will not be eligible to vote and in the upcoming primary.”

Page Gardner, President of WVWV, stated in her letter that:
“…Kentucky residents will receive this mail after the deadline for registering to vote to participate in the upcoming primary election.  Please be aware that the mailing is not intended to encourage registration specifically for the primary, but simply to encourage voter registration in general.  The mailing clearly indicates that the deadline to register to vote by mail for a particular election in Kentucky is 29 days before the election … We hope that this unfortunate coincidence in timing does not lead to any confusion or aggravation for either your state’s voters or registrars.”
Grayson had previously noted at a March press conference that many third-party registration groups are in Kentucky now and are trying to register voters.  He stated that there have been some complaints to the State Board of Elections about some of these voter registration efforts.  While most voter registration efforts are very helpful, they sometimes can confuse voters.
Read more...
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.
South Dakota: Secretary of State Warns Against Bogus Mailings PDF  | Print |  Email
South Dakota
By Rapid City Journal Staff   
May 08, 2008
This article appeared in the Rapid City Journal.

Secretary of State Chris Nelson is warning South Dakotans that a Boston organization called the "Voter Participation Project" is sending mailings into South Dakota, saying residents -- under "state law" -- must re-register to vote. The mailing lists the Secretary of State's address, adding the appearance of credibility.

"The language in this mailing is not true," Nelson said. "This organization is misleading our citizens into thinking they need to fill out another voter registration form in order to vote."

Nelson said he has received a number of complaints about the mailings and that some of the mailings have gone to deceased South Dakotans. Others have targeted older citizens.

"My elderly mother received a mailing and was concerned that she needed to fill it out in order to vote," Nelson said.

He noted that voters aren't required to re-register when they move, but he does encourage the practice. Nelson said any voter wishing to view their registration status should go to www.sdsos.gov and click on the Voter Information Portal. The site shows where voters are registered, where polling places are and offers a sample ballot for the primary election.
Nuns Turned Away from Polls Due to Indiana Photo ID Law PDF  | Print |  Email
Indiana
By Deborah Hastings, Associated Press   
May 06, 2008
About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

Sister Julie McGuire (pictured at right) said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

The convent will make "a very concerted effort" to get proper identification for the nuns in time for the general election. "We're going to take from now until November to get them out and get this done.

"You can't do this like school kids on a bus," she said. "I wish we could."

Elsewhere across the pivotal state, voting appeared to run smoothly, despite the fears of some elections experts that the Supreme Court's recent refusal to strike down Indiana's controversial photo identification law could cause confusion at the polls.

In a primary expected to draw record numbers, a voter hot line set up by the secretary of state's office mostly received calls concerning precinct locations, spokeswoman Bethany Derringer said.

But a group of voting rights advocates that established a separate hot line reported receiving several calls from would-be voters who were turned away at precincts because they lacked state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

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Indiana: Richmond Vote Centers Packed; Computer Glitch Adds to Wait PDF  | Print |  Email
Indiana
By Bill Engle, Palladium-Item   
May 06, 2008
This article was posted at Pal-Item.com.

Voting in the Indiana Primary election today is getting to be an all-day project in Richmond.

Lines had formed everywhere by 11:30 a.m. as the lunch crowd jammed the city’s four vote centers.

“People are standing in line everywhere,” said Wayne County Clerk Sue Ann Lower. “But we understand that there are lines all over the state.”

Lower said she sent “reinforcements” — additional poll workers — to First English Lutheran Church first thing this morning and sent helpers to the Kuhlman Center on the city’s west side shortly after 11 a.m.

The idea was to get the lines moving and let people vote.

“We expected a heavy turnout. This is what we expected,” Lower said.

It didn’t help that the Richmond Senior Center lost its Internet feed around 11:30 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., county IT employees were still working with Parallax to reconnect the feed. They said it would be about another 10 minutes.
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Guam's Razor-Thin Caucus Vote Shows the Need for Paper Ballots PDF  | Print |  Email
Guam
By Verified Voting Foundation Press Release   
May 05, 2008
The extremely close vote in Guam's Democratic Presidential caucus shows the need for recountable and verifiable voting systems, the Verified Voting Foundation said Sunday. Only seven votes separated Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama out of over 4,500 cast.  The caucus used voter-marked paper ballots, and a recount was ordered.

“Since the election was conducted using voter-marked paper ballots, they can do a recount,” said Warren Stewart, Senior Project Director for Verified Voting.  “If the caucus had used paperless touch screens, all they would get would be a reprint,” Stewart said.  “Imagine the Electoral College this November is hanging on the results from one state – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia – where the winner is determined by a razor-thin margin and there is no way to conduct a meaningful recount. Add to that inevitable machine failures in a handful of precincts in the state that will have resulted in long lines or anomalous results, and we have a constitutional crisis.”

Prominent computer scientists have warned strongly that all electronic voting systems are vulnerable to error and tampering. Verified Voting estimates that over 30 per cent of the ballots in the November Presidential election will be cast on paperless electronic machines.  In Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Tennessee, most votes will be paperless, and in Georgia, New Jersey, and Maryland, electronic systems with no paper record will be the only voting method at the polls.  In all, 14 states will have some paperless electronic voting on November 4.  “Unfortunately, over one fourth states are not as ready for a close Presidential race as the Guam Presidential caucus,” said Stewart.
Read more...
North Carolina NAACP Files Formal Vote Suppression Complaint Against Women's Voices Women's Vote PDF  | Print |  Email
North Carolina
By North Carolina NAACP   
May 05, 2008
Alerts U.S. Department of Justice of concerns

The North Carolina NAACP has filed a formal complaint of possible voter suppression against Women's Voices Women Vote, the D.C. nonprofit that as we revealed earlier this week was behind the deceptive and illegal robo-calls made to state residents. The N.C. NAACP hand-delivered its complaint today to state Attorney General Roy Cooper and State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett. It's also alerted the U.S. Department of Justice that it's collecting more information from its national network and is contemplating filing a formal complaint with that agency.

N.C. NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II announced the filing of the complaint at a press conference held this afternoon outside the N.C. Department of Justice. He was joined by his group's attorney, Al McSurely, and Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina. The state Attorney General's office is already investigating Women's Voices, but the N.C. NAACP and Democracy North Carolina want to be parties to that investigation.

"When you mess with the right to vote, you're messing with everything that is fundamental in our democracy," Barber said.


Read more...
Indiana Voters Should Go Prepared to the Polls PDF  | Print |  Email
Indiana
By Common Cause   
May 02, 2008
Indiana voters face a series of obstacles to cast a ballot in the state’s primary election on Tuesday, and should plan to go prepared to the polls or risk losing the right to vote. The combination of a draconian voter ID law that allows citizens to vote only with Indiana state or US government-issued photo ID, the fact that Indiana still deploys paperless electronic voting machines that have been known to malfunction, and the late surge in voter registrations, is sure to test the election system, according to a report by Common Cause and the Verified Voting Foundation.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Indiana voters to be part of the process of choosing our next president,” said Stevie Miller, executive director of Common Cause Indiana. “But we are also looking at circumstances that require voters to know their rights and come prepared.”

“The disappointing Supreme Court ruling this week that upheld Indiana’s voter ID law is likely to disproportionately impact young voters, senior citizens and minorities, who are less likely to have the requisite ID,” said Tova Wang, an elections expert and vice president of research for Common Cause.
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