ACT NOW BEFORE WED. JULY 8th: email the House Judiciary I Committee , email addressess and a sample message below:
Deborahr@ncleg.net; Melanieg@ncleg.net; Pauls@ncleg.net;Bonners@ncleg.net, Marthaa@ncleg.net, Johnbl@ncleg.net,
Angelab@ncleg.net, Debbiec@ncleg.net, Larryh@ncleg.net, Priceyh@ncleg.net, Georgeho@ncleg.net, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Grierm@ncleg.net; Anniem@ncleg.net, Rogerw@ncleg.net
Judiciary I Committee:
Chairman Rep. Ross, Vice Chairman Rep. Goodwin, Vice Chairman Rep. Stam, Vice Chairman Rep. Stiller, Rep. M. Alexander, Rep. Blust, Rep. Bryant, Rep. Clary, Rep. Hall, Rep. Harrison, Rep. Holmes, Rep. Insko, Rep. Martin, Rep. Mobley, Rep. West
Subject: S 1263 - Instant runoff not what it seems
Please say no to allowing another Instant runoff voting pilot in S 1263 or any other bill. IRV is a well intentioned idea that produces unintended consequences, and fails to deliver as promised. It does not save money, is confusing and violates the KISS principle of elections (Keep it Simple).
There are other simpler less expensive ways to eliminate costly runoff elections. We can stop having statewide runoffs - 42 states don't have them, do as 45 other states do and appoint the Labor Commissioner , or adjust the thresholds for these elections. Other states have estimated that voter education would cost at least $1.5 million each election year. Third parties can be helped by making ballot access easier, and considering other voting methods that don't require complex tabulation.
If you will not vote against the pilot program, then please require that any experiment be performed within the perameters of our election transparency laws. Our equipment currently can not handle IRV, and IRV will lead to a push for more electronic voting machines, and we have seen the problem with those. IRV costs will include changes to our voting machines or software, increased ballot printing, and voter education. Many will not be reached by the education and most will not know enough about all of the candidates to choose 2 or 3 for each contest. This is inherently unfair to the average voter and also will harm the down ticket contests. If you must test IRV, test to see if it can be done in a truly transparent fashion under the standards of the Public Confidence in Elections Law.
In 2005 NC made uncertified software illegal and created civil and criminal penalties for violating the law because the software affects how votes are counted or not counted. Diebold was caught installing uncertified software on California machines and did not ever apply for federal certification for that software. It has been noted that Diebold installed uncertified software in Georgia prior to the 2002 election (Rob Georgia Files/Mac Clelland lost). ES&S was caught installing uncertified software and lying about it in Indiana in 2004.
Support Federal Legislation to bring verified voting to all 50 states.
US Congressman Rush Holt (D, NJ) introduced H.R. 811 in the 110th congress - a bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified paper ballot. Read more..
Please call and or email these other congressmen to support HR 811, The Voter Confidence & Increased Accessibility Act . It requires voter verified paper ballots for all 50 states.
This bill is soon to be heard for a vote. It currently has 216 co-sponsors listed.
Current NC Co-Sponsors are:
Not currently co-sponsoring HR 811:
7 Ways to Protect Your Vote on November 7
1. Vote! Whether you vote on November 7th or by early voting or absentee ballot, the only way to be sure your vote won't count is if you don't vote.
2. Find out if you're registered and where to vote. Check here to verify that you are registered to vote. You can also call your county election office.
3. Verify Your Vote If you're voting on an electronic voting machine equipped with a paper trail printer, be sure to confirm that your vote is recorded accurately on the paper record. If there is a problem notify the poll worker before casting your vote. See our Verify page which also lists which machines each county has.
4. Bring Identification. In every state, if you are voting for the first time and you registered by mail, you need to bring identification with you to the polls. Bring identification regardless, just in case!
5. Election Protection Hotline If you encounter any problem in the voting process call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for English or 1-888-VEY-VOTA (1-888-839-8682 para la ayuda en espanol).
Voting Machine Problems? For issues specifically related to voting machine malfunctions, call Voter Action at 1-888-SAV-VOTE .With this number voters will reach a live human being with legal expertise and it is dedicated to e-voting issue
6. Election Incident Reporting Checklist for Observers and Voters
This form is a guideline of various problems to look for or to report.
I recommend this form to the media as well as every-day voters. You can phone in this data to 1-866-OUR-VOTE or email it to us at NC Verified Voting
7. Take extra care if you choose to select the straight ticket ballot option instead of marking your choices one by one. See Straight ticket dangers
Straight ticket voting is optional, if you choose it, read the directions.
Take Action: Participate in protecting our democracy!
Contact your County Commissioners and Board of Elections Members by phone and email
They will be meeting together on Monday, Feb 13, at 2PM at the Wake County Office Bldg
Our Board of Elections Alert, Sample Message and Contact information Here
Our County Commissioners Alert, Sample Message and Contact information Here
Some background information:
This explanation is so long. Both the technical aspects and the politics are rather complicated, and I am trying to provide just the essential information. The first 3/4 explains what is going on now. The final fourth is pasted from a letter to the commissioners that I wrote previously to argue against DREs (touchscreen machines).
New Federal Requirements
There are new laws at federal and state level that require changes in voting systems in all counties of North Carolina beginning January 1, 2006. The federal Help American Vote Act, passed in 2002, requires that all equipment aside from simple hand counting be certified for the Election Assistance Commission by the National Association of State Election Directors to 2002 standards. The certification process is full of holes, but anyway, only a handful of competing companies have had their equipment certified. The list of certified equipment is at http://www.nased.org/NASED%20Qualified%20Voting%20Systems%20122205.pdf It includes mainly 3 types of equipment: DREs, optical scanners, and one ballot marker, the Automark.
HAVA requires that all election sites have available equipment that is accessible to blind and other disabled people. There are two types of certified election equipment: ADA Direct Recording Electronic systems (DREs), which are usually paperless and use a touchscreen, and the Automark, which works much the same way, except that it does not electronically record the vote. Instead it prints out a ballot marked for the voter, which then can be read by an optical scanner just like hand-marked ballots. Both the Automark and the ADA DREs use audio tapes and earphones to allow voters' choices to be played back to them. Automark has other refinements for motion impaired, including quadriplegics.
Whichever system is chosen, there would have to be at least one at each early or election-day polling site. Otherwise, the district (in this case, county) would not receive federal funds earmarked under HAVA for this year, which would be $2.4 million dollars for Wake County. That would be about all that Wake County needs for new compliant equipment, if it does not purchase DREs. Only ES&S equipment has been certified by the State Board of Elections. Fortunately, ES&S distributes the Automark, and also sells the iVotronic DRE, the M100 optical scanner (one ballot at a time) and the M650 tabulator, a high-speed optical scanner for use with absentee votes.
New state requirements
The main provisions of the state law are requirements of a voter-verified (i.e. seen by the voter) paper record of the vote and a requirement for vendors to place into escrow all computer source code for examination by experts to be named by both parties. It also requires 2002 Federal certification for all electronic equipment. The bill also requires that recounts, required in a number of specified situations, be hand-to-eye.
Unfortunately, the state legislature added to its bill, before passing it, a provision requiring that the precinct of all votes cast at one-stop sites in early voting be identified. The tally by precincts can be made up to 60 days after the election. The legislators like to have that information to guide them in redistricting and other party matters.
January 27 vote by the Wake Board of Elections
The County Supervisor of Elections, Cherie Poucher, and the consultant whom she hired, Glenn Newkirk, who is an unabashed advocate of paperless electronic voting, drew up 4 alternatives for the county board of elections to choose from. The board agreed to delay a decision on equipment to purchase for early voting in November, and to have only one early voting site for the May primary (beginning in April). They also agreed to have paper ballots with optical scanners at all election day sites. They voted on January 27 between three alternatives:
1. Only DREs for early voting, and ADA DREs used for disabled voters at election day sites.
2. Only DREs for early voting (up to 13 of them), with Automarks for disabled voters at election day sites.
3. paper ballots with M100 optical scanners, along with an Automark at early voting sites, and the same at election day sites.
For option #3, as each M100 can be programmed for only 10 different precincts (but 40 different ballot styles per precinct) the plan would be for the poll workers to write the precinct number on the ballot (they already write a sequence number on the ballot before handing it to the voter), and not have any tally by precinct initially. Then only one or two M100s would be needed at an early voting site (50 ballot styles), and the ballots could be sorted by hand into precincts during the following 60 days and run through the tabulators by precinct to get tallies by precinct to give to the parties. Alternatively, ballot identification could be printed on the ballots that could be read by the M650, and on election day all the early votes could be run through it to obtain the official results and breakdown by precinct simultaneously (as the DRE can do). The M650 alternative would require 259 different ballot styles instead of 50, and all members of the BOE were opposed to this, both for the cost (a spurious argument), and because election workers would have a hard time finding the right ballot for each voter.
Mr. Steed voted for option #1, the only vote. Then Mr. Currie moved to adopt option #2, and both he and Mr. Steed voted for it. Only Dr. Gilbert supported option #3.
Rejection by County Commissioners
On February 6, Mrs. Poucher and Mr. Currie appeared before the County Commissioners - 6 of the 7 were present - and presented option #2 as the BOE's recommendation. Not one commissioner was willing to make a motion to accept it. But the commissioners are bound by law only to accept or reject the BOE's recommendation, so that left the county with no decision. The commissioners then voted 4-3 to meet with the BOE on Monday, Feb. 13.
My colleagues and I in the NC Coalition on Verified Voting have worked hard to educate the commissioners. But a decision to drop DREs altogether can not be made unless either Mr. Steed or Mr. Currie changes his mind. Both seem to be very much under the influence of Mrs. Poucher and Mr. Newkirk, for whatever reason.
Reasons given by Mrs. Poucher, Mr. Steed, and Mr. Currie for choosing DRE for early voting
1. There were more than 90,000 early votes in the November, 2004, election. Sorting that many ballots into 189 precincts would be a Herculean job (says Mrs. Poucher. . . Dr. Gilbert says not so different from sorting done in the past, and the cost of hiring people to do it could be paid from the interest on the savings of not buying DREs).
rebuttal: This is not a presidential election. it is a primary with no statewide contests and no seriously contested Congressional seats. There were fewer than 5000 early votes in 2002 primary, when there were Senatorial primaries for both parties and also primaries for the new 13 district Congressional seat. There can hardly be more than 5000 early votes in this primary. Furthermore, with 60 days, and cost not being a factor, compared with cost of 13 DREs, even 90,000 ballots could be sorted.
2. There is a possibility that the tally by precinct would not agree with the official results (This possibility particularly seemed to concern Mr. Steed - but he didn't say why).
rebuttal: this is a really trivial consideration. The official count is the one that should be completely accurate. The tally by precincts will not change it, and is not really part of the election. So if agreement is, say, 99% instead of 100% it doesn't matter, unless it encourages a candidate to request or sue for a recount. . .but that would happen only if the election were close enough to trigger a recount, anyway.
Unfortunately, the RFP procedure conducted by the SBOE''s consultant, recently a Diebold executive, Mr. Keith Long, resulted in narrowing the field of potential DRE vendors to those that provided "toilet paper" ballots- paper ballots rolled up on a reel. Mandatory hand-eye audits of a yet-to-be determined percentage of precincts are required in the new law, section 5(b,1a) and also in some circumstances for recounts, section 6(b). Hand-eye counting will be nearly impossible with the rolls of the paper several hundred feet long. It certainly will be very time-consuming and costly.
You may have received many communications from "experts." I caution you that there are different categories of experts. Election officials do not like to have to count ballots, and most are influenced by the The Election Center to favor DREs. The Election Center, supposedly a non-profit educational organization, receives significant funding from the big three DRE manufacturers, ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia http//www.ncvoter.net/electioncenter.html
While some election officials like the ease (for them) of electronic voting, almost all computer professionals are highly skeptical of it. I could quote many individuals, but I attach a statement from Prof. Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, which I heard when he delivered it to the Election Assisatance Commission in May 2004. In September, 2004, a poll of 4,600 members of the Association of Computing Machinery, the world's oldest professional computer association showed 95% agreed with the following statement
"Many electronic voting systems have been evaluated by independent, generally-recognized experts and have been found to be poorly designed; developed using inferior software engineering processes; designed without (or with very limited) external audit capabilities; intended for operation without obvious protective measures; and deployed without rigorous, scientifically-designed testing."
"ACM has recommended that e-voting systems enable voters to inspect a physical (e.g., paper) record to verify the accuracy of their vote, and to serve as an independent check on the record produced and stored by the system. In addition, those records should be made permanent, not based solely in computer memory, to allow for an accurate recount." http//www.acm.org/usacm/weblog/index.php?p=73
I urge you to reject the recommendation of the Wake County Board of Elections and require it to bring another recommendation, which, I hope, will continue the county's traditional and well-proven use of paper ballots with optical scan tabulators, only with some additional provisions to identify votes by precinct within 60 days after the election (not part of the election itself) and to provide ballot marking devices to meet HAVA requirements for disabled voters.
Past Action Alerts
**Take this 60 second action alert ** Tell Your County: North Carolina Deserves the Best Voting System
One minute is all it takes to help save North Carolina's counties and taxpayers millions of dollars... one minute for the best possible implementation of the verifiable voting law we all worked so hard to pass. Some would like NC to buy expensive e-voting machines (DREs) that are vulnerable to malfunctions. But this would undermine the intent of our new law: to increase voter confidence in our elections. Go to this link to send your county officials a message, select fax and email options http://www.demaction.org/dia/organizations/vevo/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1621 or http://tinyurl.com/am786
Defend North Carolina E-Voting Law From Diebold take this 60 second action alert to the Governor
North Carolina has one of the most stringent electronic voting laws in the country. Now voting machine lobbyists are trying to gut it. If you're a North Carolina resident, tell the governor to defend the vote from special interests!
Phone the Governor
You can fax Governor Easley a letter at (919) 715-3175 or (919)
733-2120. You can call his office at (800) 662-7952 (valid in North
Carolina only), (919) 733-4240, or (919) 733-5811. Here is the page for
emailing the Governor's office:
*SAMPLE LETTER or PHONE CALL message/email/fax/conversation, please use your own words,
but avoid criticism, conspiracy theories, accusations of fraud, or
any rhetoric. We want to win his support.
Governor Michael F. Easley
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
PROTECT OUR VOTING MACHINES-DO NOT AMEND SB223.
The new Voting Confidence Bill is working fine improving our voting machines and unmasking the problems of weak or unreliable vendors who disrupted our elections in 2004.
Thanks to SB 223, our state's reputation for voting integrity has begun to be repaired.
There is no need to weaken the Bill, damage our voters' confidence and risk the loss of $55 million in HAVA funding just to accommodate several counties which have ignored the HAVA compliance process and a few vendors who have refused to comply with SB223. And, one of those vendors, Diebold Systems of Texas, has been so unreliable that Florida counties and the California Secretary of State have announced actions against them in the past week!
A North Carolina distributor has complied with the new law and is ready to deliver two types of verifiable voting machines which can be audited and recounted on a cost effective basis in time for the 2006 elections.
Please do not waste taxpayer money and endanger our HAVA funds by calling a special session to
gut SB223 and risk our voting integrity again.
PREVIOUS ACTION ALERTS:
The Goal: To convert every county to a precinct-based optical scan system with an Auto-mark type of machine to meet the disabled accessible requirement of the Federal HAVA law. Computer scientists advise that this is the most reliable system for VVPB and HAVA requirements. Advocates for the blind IN North Carolina have tested these machines and say that the ballot marking device is the most user friendly.
Lobby Officials in your County - contact these county decision makers and influencers --
Contact your County Election director - they recommend the system they want to the County Board of Elections. Contact information and sample letter http://www.ncvoter.net/ltrboe.html
Contact the County Board of Elections - they vote on which system to purchase/use. Use same letter as for Election Director. http://www.ncvoter.net/ltrboe.html
Contact the County Commissioners - they hold the pocket book, can prevent purchase of DREs . letter http://www.ncvoter.net/commissioners.html
Contact your County Political Party Chair - they can put pressure on their party BOE and Commissioners members. letter http://www.ncvoter.net/partychair.html
Write a letter to the editor - the opinion page is the most popular section of the newspaper, sample letter here http://www.ncvoter.net/letters.html
Help organize others in your county - We will provide plenty of support and advice. Invite others. Contact us with any questions or concerns. Carteret and Guilford have already formed their own county coalitions.
Host a Public Meeting on Choices of Voting Machines, Getting Your Vote Counted - Next Time
We can provide speakers, or we can help provide information for your own panel
1. What is a DRE? DRE stands for "Direct Recording Electronic" voting machine. As the name suggests, the voter directly enters the votes, which are recorded electronically. Almost all touch screen voting machines are DREs, although there are other DREs that have knobs or switches instead of touch screens
1.2. Why are computer scientists upset by DRE voting systems? Computer scientists, as well as voters, are upset by paperless DRE voting systems because we know that even a beginning programmer can write code that displays votes one way on a screen, records them another way, and tallies them yet another way. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including software and hardware errors, or "hacks" installed into the voting machines. These problems can occur even when voting machines have been thoroughly inspected and tested. DRE systems experienced a number of problems already in the 2002 elections, and we see this only as the tip of the iceberg. http://www.verifiedvoting.org/article.phpid=5018#s1q1
2. What is a Precinct Count Optical scan? An optical scan system where the ballot scanner is in the precinct. The voter marks his choices on a paper ballot that resembles a multiple choice test. The ballot is then fed into the scanner, which counts the votes and stores the ballot in a secure manner. The machines can reject the ballot if it can't be read properly, has undervotes or overvotes. Precinct count systems have been studied extensively by political scientists, who have found them to be much less conducive to voter error than punch cards. In this respect they are competitive (perhaps better) than DREs. Precinct count optical scan systems are very widely used in the United States. http://www.verifiedvoting.org/article.php?id=5018#s1q1 See our optical scan page