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Voting Machines and Legal Standards


Why Can't We Keep Our Old Voting Machines?

Answer - voting machines not only must have or provide a voter verified paper ballot, they must meet the standards of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

Also, why is the Automark Ballot Marking Device Better Than Touchscreen Machines?

The Help America Vote Act - addresses disabled accessibility AND error rate of voting systems.

To be HAVA compliant, voting machines must meet the improved error rate of the 2002 Federal Voting System Standards  as well as meet disabled accessibility standards,
"Section 301(a)
(7) provide for an error rate in operating the voting system that is no greater than the error rate set forth in Section 2.3.1
of the 2002 Voting System Standards adopted by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).”
HAVA -  mandates an error rate standard that is 5 times more stringent than the 1990 standards. Any vendor that has a voting machines that "COULD" be certified under the 2002 standards has done so, Every vendor would love to trumpet 2002 compliance all over their web site.. if they could meet the 2002 certs-- but they cant.
Wake County's 14 year old ES&S OptechIIIPE voting machines have never been qualified to the 2002 federal standards,
only to the 16 year old federal standards issued in 1990. Federal certification is not easy to obtain,
as evidenced by some companies like Sequoia, who is still struggling to get 2002 certification for their newest equipment. 
The Recent EAC Advisory Clarifies What HAVA Requires -
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) Section 301(a) sets forth the requirements that must be met by voting systems.
Due to those concerns the EAC has published an advisory that explains more fully the requirements of Section 301(a).
EAC Advisory 2005-004: How to determine if a voting system is compliant with Section 301(a) –

This advisory makes it clear  that only the 2002 Voluntary Voting Systems Standards are recognized by the EAC.
Nowhere are the 1990 standards even mentioned. Yet almost all presently NASED qualified voting systems,
including most of those qualified in the past two years, are only qualified to the 1990 standards.
The basis for the information contained in the EAC advisory is the following (re-formatted for easier reading):
HAVA says that voting machines must meet the following standards after January 1, 2006 -
“Section 301(a) sets forth the standards that voting systems must meet after January 1, 2006. Those requirements include functions and features that, among other things:
(1) allow the voter to review his or her selections privately and independently prior to casting a ballot;
(2) allow the voter to change his or her selections privately and independently prior to casting a ballot;
(3) notify the voter when he or she has made more selections in a single race than are permitted (overvote);
(4) provide for the production of a permanent paper record suitable to be used in a manual recount;
(5) provide voters with disabilities, including visual disabilities, the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters;
(6) provide accessibility in minority languages for voters with limited English proficiency as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and
(7) provide for an error rate in operating the voting system that is no greater than the error rate set forth in Section 2.3.1 of the 2002
Voting System Standards adopted by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).”
Current List of Voting Systems with 2002 Federal Qualification from the NASED website

What does the recent EAC advisory on HAVA mean regarding disabled accessibility? And Why is the Automark so important?

"The Help America Vote Act of 2002 mandates accessibility standards for voting systems to allow voters with disabilities to vote in private and without assistance when possible. These standards have been greatly misunderstood and have now been clarified by the EAC Commissioners in their advisory that was issued on July 20, 2005. They should now be clear and unequivocal to everyone. Section of the 2002 Voting Systems Standards must be followed.
Voting systems must be accessible, as much as possible, to voters who may be amputees, quadriplegics, severe arthritics, and those who have other mobility impairments. These are proper and honorable requirements."  John Gideon of VoteTrust on what HAVA means.
'The findings of Section 301(a)(3) discuss, in great detail, the requirements of HAVA as regards voting systems and accessibility of those systems by disabled voters. Notice that while some voting machine manufacturers and state officials have claimed that HAVA Section 301 does not require accessibility for any disabilities other than the blind, this advisory clearly says otherwise:
“Compliance with Section 301(a)(3) requires that the voting system is accessible to persons with disabilities as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, including physical, visual, and cognitive disabilities, such that the disabled individual can privately and independently receive instruction, make selections, and cast a ballot.”
This statement does not single-out blind voters or use them as an example as is done in HAVA. This statement is unambiguous and to the point_ on January 1, 2006 all voting systems must be accessible to individuals with a wide range of disabilities.
The advisory says that, in determining the accessibility of a system in conformance with HAVA Section 301(a)(3), the following seven factors must be considered: .... ' more at VoteTrustUSA
Which is better for the disabled - Touchscreen Machines or the Automark Ballot Marking Device?
The Automark is accessible to physically disabled and the blind, with sip puff and foot pedal features, which touchscreen machines do not have. This means that only the Automark fully meets HAVA requirements.
Read interview Dottie Neely, Social Worker for the blind, who is blind herself for answer .
Additional Notes:
HAVA funds are being used to upgrade NC voting systems:

SECTION 7.  G.S. 163-82.28 reads as rewritten:
"§ 163-82.28.  The HAVA Election Fund.
There is established a special fund to be known as the Election Fund. All funds received for implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, Public Law 107-252, shall be deposited in that fund. The State Board of Elections shall use funds in the Election Fund only to implement HAVA. HAVA and for purposes permitted by HAVA to comply with State law."

SECTION 1.(a) of the Public Confidence in Elections Act
"§ 163-165.7.  Voting systems: powers and duties of State Board of Elections
(2)       That the voting system comply with all federal requirements for voting systems.

Further Discussion:

Is Your County Considering the Purchase of Voting Machines that are not HAVA Compliant?

Any county that buys DREs(touchscreen machines) in North Carolina may have the following consequences:
  • counties will be getting machines that have to be upgraded or completely replaced by 2007
  • DREs currently allowed in NC will have the "toilet paper ballot" like the Diebold machines that crashed and burnt, at a failure rate between 10-20%
  • Counties will use the failure of the defective DREs to push for non paper verification systems
  • We may have paperless voting in our state again in 2008 as a result of the "toilet paper ballot" failure

Be Informed, Take Action, Don't Let your county mis-spend taxpayer dollars on DRES. The Computer Scientist at the Verified Voting Foundation recommend that states use optical scan machines, because they are more accurate, easier to audit and ballots easier to recount, more affordable, and with a ballot marking device are best for the disabled. 

Ballot Marking Best for Accessible and Verifiable Voting: Voters Can Have the Best of Both Worlds    

Disability access of current verifiable voting technology - chart
Wheelchair specs--
Specification - report
Measured of the Sequoia Advantage, annotated theJPG.
This voting machine is not HAVA compliant and cant be used in a the Federal election coming in 2006.
The State of California heeded this advisory: August 5, 2005 - California tightens rules for e-voting vendors -Makers of electronic voting machines will have to certify that their systems meet federal guidelines to ensure that voters don't get "stuck with a lemon" as technology and regulations evolve, the state's top election official said.

The new rule, announced this week by Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, will clarify for counties which systems are approved for use in the June 2006 primary election.

Manufacturers of e-voting machines will have to sign contracts stating that their equipment meets the requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act.

The guidelines for HAVA won't be finalized until October, McPherson said in an interview Friday. The new rule will protect counties financially if they buy a system touted as HAVA-compliant, only to learn it doesn't meet the final regulations. Article