[E-voting] Carter & Baker call for VVPB in US (Irish Times)

Warren Stewart warren at votetrustusa.org
Wed Sep 21 20:10:21 IST 2005


I published the following article in Scoop today 
(http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0509/S00319.htm). Most of the very 
correct objections to the Carter-Baker report have focused on the 
heinous voter ID recommendations. It is important at the same time to 
recognize the flaws in the CCPB recommendations. While it is a 
significant watershed that the commission endorsed the concept of VVPB 
it is critical that their language is not used a blueprint for 
legislation that would result in a menaingless and expensive placebo. 
Two adamantly paperless DRE states (aryland and Georgia have been making 
noises about VVPB - which is great - but if the status of the VVPB is 
left up to states the results will be yet another windfall for the 
vendors (millions to upgrade their faulty machines) while the VVPB is 
simply tossed in the trash. In California right now there is pressure on 
Arnold to veto recently passed legislation that mandatesd that the VVPB 
be used in the states pathetically small (1%) random audit (SB 370). the 
bill (a total no brainer) passed the State Senate unanimously and by a 
wide margin in the Assembly but all will be lost if the Governator 
vetoes since the legislature is now out of session.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Don't Let Congress Use the Carter-Baker Report to Make Vote Verification 
Meaningless
by Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA

The Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, published this 
morning and available for download here 
<http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/>, is a significant tome at over 100 
pages, and its 87 recommendations cover a wide range of issues of 
concern to election activists. The section dealing with voting 
technology is of particular interest to those concerned about the 
accuracy and security of elections in that it explicitly recommends  a 
requirement for a voter verifiable paper trail on all voting systems.

The Commission's report very correctly recognizes the need to ensure 
voter confidence in the election process through a verification process. 
However, the report specifically recommends that the status of the voter 
verified record should be left to the states. This is unacceptable. It 
is fundamental to the integrity of the democratic process that it is the 
voters and not the machines that ultimately confirm the accuracy of 
their votes.

The record verified by the voter is the only physical record that voter 
has confirmed and should be recognized as such. It should not be offered 
to voters as a placebo to ensure their confidence if it does not 
actually provide reason for that confidence. It is crucial for a 
transparent election process is a record of each vote that has been 
verified by the voters themselves. It must be human readable, it must be 
genuinely permanent and preserved in the manner that all election 
materials are preserved, and it must be used to confirm the accuracy of 
machine counts, whether those counts come from DREs or optical scanners. 
When inconsistencies between hand counts of paper records and 
machine-tabulated records are uncovered in an audit or recount, the 
totals of the voter verified records must be considered the true and 
correct record of the voter's vote.

And mandatory random manual audits are critically important. While the 
Commission's report recommends audits to verify the accuracy of voting 
systems, it is unclear about the mechanism through which such audits 
shall be conducted and does not specify the need for hand counts. 
Meaningful audits require hand counts - it is not possible to confirm 
the accuracy of machine counts with more machine counts. Publicly 
observed hand counts are the only means to achieve complete certainty of 
the vote totals and should be required in all audits and recounts.

Of course there is a bill introduced in Congress that would do all this. 
It has over 150 co-sponsors and has generated widespread constituent 
support across the country. The voter verification language in this bill 
was carefully crafted and benefited from the input of computer 
scientists, disability organizations, and election reform advocates. 
This bill deals comprehensively with the broad-based and legitimate 
concerns about the accuracy of vote casting and counting on electronic 
voting systems by mandating random manual audits to verify the accuracy 
of electronic data and prohibit the use of undisclosed software, the use 
of wireless communications devices, and the connection of voting systems 
to the Internet. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt as HR 550, 
deserves to be passed as written and passed quickly, in time to affect 
the 2006 elections.

The Commission has identified the importance of a voter verified paper 
record requirement, audits, and the prohibition of undisclosed voting 
system software to ensuring confidence in the election process. We 
urgently need Federal legislation establishing that it is the voters, 
rather than a secret and non-transparent software code that ultimately 
confirm the accuracy of their votes. Congress must not be allowed to use 
the Commission's report as justification for weakening the language of 
HR 550. The bill should be passed as written and a companion bill should 
be introduced and passed in the Senate at once.
Adrian Colley wrote:

>This article on page 11 of Tuesday's Irish Times contains a viciously
>abbreviated summary of the US e-voting fiasco so far.  The fact that
>Jimmy Carter and James Baker are now publicly behind VVPB should be
>useful if the Irish Government continues to dismiss it.  The remaining
>excuse (that the Nedap/Powervote system is completely incomparable with
>the US systems) is largely incredible since the revelations of the
>First Report from the Commission on Electronic Voting.
>
> --Adrian.
>
>  
>
>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>Report urges changes to US voting system
>========================================
>(Dan Balz in Washington)
>
>Warning that public confidence in the US's election system is flagging,
>a commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former
>secretary of state James Baker has called for changes in how Americans
>vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for
>electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections.
>
>Federal legislation enacted in 2002 grew out of the disputed election of
>2000.  But the Carter-Baker commission said that, even with some
>important changes in place, the 2004 election was marred by many of the
>same errors as the 2000 election.
>
>Disputes over the counting of provisional ballots, the accuracy of
>registration lists, long queues at some polling places, timely
>administration of absentee ballots and questions about the security of
>some e-voting machines tarnished the 2004 elections.
>
>The Florida recount in 2000, with its images of "hanging chads", spurred
>the shift to electronic ballots.  But flaws in new computerised systems
>have led to doubts about their accuracy.  The commission calls on
>Congress to require that all electronic machines include the capacity
>for a paper trail that voters can use to verify their vote.
>
>The most controversial recommendation calls for all voters to produce a
>standard photo identification card before being allowed to vote.
>Critics say the requirement could intimidate or discourage some
>Americans, particularly the elderly, the poor and minorities, from
>participating in elections.  The 2002 act required the use of
>provisional ballots for any eligible voter who shows up at a polling
>place but whose name is not on a registration list, but in the 2004
>election Alaska counted 97 per cent of its provisianol ballots and
>Delaware, 6 per cent.  The group recommends states set uniform
>standards.  (LA Times-Washington Post service)
>
>END
>  
>
>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
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