Election Reform Campaign

Common Cause is starting a new Campaign for Voting System Integrity to guarantee every voting machine will keep paper records. MoveOn is urging members to help fund the new program.

In an email today, the Political Action group requested a $10 donation from 15,000 members. Sounds like a darn good price for what may be the biggest hurdle this country faces in turning disaster into relief. The problem stems from the need to keep the paper records to back up the unreliable, easily hacked, touch-screen machines.

Pamela wrote about this last month here.

MoveOn is working with Common Cause on two aspects of reform:

Touch-screen voting machines rely on computers to count votes, but there’s no hard copy backup in case of a crash and no way to detect tampering. From North Carolina to Ohio to Texas, votes have been lost or miscounted.

Common Cause’s new plan is an exciting development, but they need to raise a lot of money to make it happen. No matter where you live, this is something you can do for election reform. You can contribute to Common Cause directly at:
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1629

For over two years, MoveOn members have been fighting for a paper record of every vote. We’ve won this fight in more than 25 states, and MoveOn members have pressed for H.R. 550—the gold standard for federal paper record bills—at every key moment. …The plan will also get state election officials to pressure Congress directly to require paper records.

Common Cause will also be distributing a new documentary on voting machines to be shown at nationwide house parties.

Sounds like some good planning is going on. It’s worthy of all the support we can find–be sure to check for coins in the couch cushions, old purses, coat pockets…

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12 Responses to Election Reform Campaign

  1. Marjorie G says:

    Sorry to be a naysayer, but Move-On just came on board Russ Holt’s Bill requirement of a paper trail back-up. If produced by the electronic machine that we vote on directly, that trail may not match, or (in NY) legally have to match. Nothing in any of their bills require we look at it, and under what circumstance. Just makes Democrats feel like they’ve done something.

    Only the paper ballot that voters mark directly is the permanent intent and record.

    Holt’s Bill languished before the 2004 election, so many states since have bought machines with trails, and it’s a protection for those that don’t have them. But problems are different now, since we’ve learned more. The printers for these electronic machines produce receipts like in the food store that fade, jam and print blank. Then what?

    Move-On needed to pursue a ballot, marked by the voter.

    Common Cause is a good gov’t group here that is neutral to both technologies-PBOS & DRE. Their main concern is the disability lobby, and minutia about voting like everyone else and access. They care less about what happens to the vote after it is cast.

    They all have financial relationships to push their issues, and shaft us in the process.

    I need to write to Move-On, and found it difficult on their site.

  2. Ginny in CO says:

    Marjorie,

    Some of your concerns may be addressed here:

    http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=6348

    If not, I would like to know more.

    MoveOn uses a forum for individuals to present ideas.

    http://www.actionforum.com/forum/index.html?forum_id=266

    It’s not terribly easy to access what you want, but you can get a message on. Given the interest in this, it could easily get the votes to stay near the top.

    I would agree that the law is probably not perfect. However I think the rebuttal explains some of the confusion and that it would be very effective – improvements can always be added.

  3. Marjorie G says:

    I work with Verified Voting in NY, and we’re for Paper Ballot Optical Scanner, because we start and end with the voter intent on permanent record.

    The Holt Bill is a protection for states without trails, but basically meaningless, because no one might look at them, not legal, and may not match. There is never a recount on electronic machines. They may feel before 2006 the need to do something, but then Dems will feel they don’t have to do anything more.

    Maybe giving confidence enough for people to come to the polls, based on hype.

    We need an effort to show the paper trails may not match, no one looks at them.

  4. Marjorie G says:

    Sorry, work for New Yorkers for Verified Voting, a big difference.

  5. Ginny in CO says:

    Marjorie,

    I’m still hearing the misunderstandings that Smith seems to rebut in the article. As in the opening:

    “Recently allegations of shortcomings in the “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act” — HR550, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey — have been circulated, moments before citizens concerned about verifiable elections nationwide converge on Washington DC to lobby for this particular bill.

    The concerns about the legislation are generally unfounded. HR550 remains the “gold standard” of voter-verified paper record (VVPR) legislation, the only one with bi-partisan support and ***the only one to require mandatory random manual audits that would check for accuracy in every state**. The organizations that support it, which run the gamut from partisan at both extremes to non-partisan election reform organizations, do so because it is clear that this legislation would go the furthest to improve election integrity nationwide. Despite the fact that 27 states have passed requirements in one form or another for voter-verified paper records, and another handful have purchased 100% voter-verifiable equipment statewide even without passing a requirement, the sad fact remains that much of our country still lacks a voter-verified paper record and fully three-quarters of the states lack any requirement to audit their elections for accuracy! ”

    As far as the optical scanners, I agree with both of you!

    “The article implies that the Holt bill calls for a “direct recording electronic (DRE) machine + voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) printer” solution, which it does not. Nothing in HR550 precludes any town, county or state from using a paper ballot system, as such a system is inherently voter-verifiable.

    It is a fact that many jurisdictions won’t easily give up DREs. Despite the many wise reasons that exist for some currently all-DRE states or counties to switch to paper optical scan ballot systems (cost-savings, ease of operation, voter-verifiability), getting that to happen is a long shot. One big reason is that those jurisdictions get to make their own choices about voting systems, in general. HAVA can’t make you buy a DRE; the EAC can’t take away your paper ballot; and the Holt bill doesn’t make you choose either one. (It simply says that whatever voting system you use, it must be voter-verifiable, and therefore auditable.)”

    As far as evaluating the machines, Pamela’s links in “Diebold’s Toilet Paper Democracy” indicated this is happening – probably needs to be done more.

  6. Marjorie G says:

    It is a protection for those with DREs, if there is not already a trail, but they don’t have to match. May not match, so what is it a sample of? It’s only a record of the legal vote.

    At least it is legal at some point, but in NY, only legal if 100% recounted which has never happened. May never get looked at.

    Since DREs are so unreliable, available for counting if needed, means what? Our state law doesn’t even mention recounts, because the vendors wrote it, and they sell them as not needing them.

    The only fail-safe, and using electronic counting, which people want to do in urban cities, is the paper ballot.

    Gold standard because the only other bill is the lousy Hillary bill.

    Just for all the activists have been through for two years to get action, not going far enough, however other protections are helpful and covered.

  7. Ginny in CO says:

    Marjorie @ 9:53 says:
    “…if there is not already a trail, but they don’t have to match. May not match, so what is it a sample of? It’s only a record of the legal vote.

    At least it is legal at some point, but in NY, only legal if 100% recounted which has never happened. May never get looked at.”

    From the Verified Voting Foundation article quoted above:

    ” HR550 remains..; ***the only one to require mandatory random manual audits that would check for accuracy in every state**”

    At another point, Smith indicates the mandatory audits have to be of 2% of the statewide precinct vote, one from each county, and any discrepancy would trigger a wider audit.

    From her explanation, the states’ options are still open to buy whatever system will meet the VVPR requirement – including the optical scanners.

    I think the ‘gold standard’ term was unnecessary hyperbole. The possibility of getting a bill requiring all states to go to optical scanning or any other paper ballot strikes me as virtually delusional in the light of the GOP states’ rights doctrine.(Even though Internationally, it is considered an injustice to allow such differences within a country for national elections)

    In some ways, this may be easier to pull off on a state by state basis. Maryland is getting pressure from their activists to go to optical scanning because their machines can’t be upgraded in time for Nov. NM Gov Richardson put in legislation for the state to go to OS. Cook County, IL elected to go OS (and I was born there 🙂 A lot of states let the counties decide what machines they will buy. Getting change at the county level is less daunting/improbable than state or Federal.

    Even if you can’t get your state law changed to cover recounts, they would still have to do the audits under HR550. And given the increased awareness of corruption, fraud and election machine problems, I would think the local groups like New Yorkers for Verified Voting would have a better chance to get other changes made in the state laws.

    I think what I’m trying to reconcile is: the HR 550 requirement that the states have voting machines that have a proven VVRP because they will HAVE to do audits. If the machines are not certified prior to the election as having the VVRP capacity, and the probability that the electronic and paper counts won’t match would be found on the audits… Is there a provision in HR 550 for holding another election or is it according to the state laws?

  8. Marjorie G says:

    NM and MD are both having difficulty with their legislatures on actually getting action. They’re insisting bills get paid on DREs first, etc, which have become huge balance dues, etc.

    We just needed tougher language to reflect what we know about DRE, tougher safeguards, or a preference for paper. People need to understand to the degree that these machines just don’t work.

    This may be a confidence builder pre-2006 elections, but doesn’t solve the problem if the machines don’t have printers that actually work, but get sold as working.

    What if that 2 or 3% doesn’t reveal? Who really decides which machines get spot-checked? Doesn’t say automatic 100% recount. Because the independent Boards of Elections don’t listen to citizen groups, only vendors promises of modernization and trouble-free elections, despite the evidence they don’t consider, we are powerless.

    My concern is that Dems will feel they did all they should or could.

  9. Connie says:

    I think it’s definitely worth going over to Bev Harris’ site — http://www.blackboxvoting.org — to read her take on all this. After all, she’s written a book on the failings of the electronic voting systems that are in place, published her findings before the 2004 election, and she had the vision to see just how elections could easily be hacked into from afar, and tallies changed without a trace. This lady is a stickler for details and seems willing to answer any questions posed to her, no matter how hostile, and carefully explains what we’re up against here. When she says we need to fix the problem, but that HR 550, which I had signed onto, won’t do it, I take another look. Lots of info on that site. Hopefully with all the computer geeks out there, all the resources the people have will ensure we have citizen- supervised, honest elections put in place. Worth checking her out.

  10. Marjorie G says:

    The paper trail is an audit receipt that may or may not be the same as the legally, secretly recorded vote. Unknown to the voter.

    By using it to recount, or seek a match, we are asking the machine to audit the audit (itself), never getting at the original intent.

  11. Ginny in CO says:

    Connie,

    Thanks for the link. I had read some less explicit attacks and didn’t see the auditing % as a problem until this. In some ways, I think the arguments reinforce what I had said above on making changes at State levels. Not that we shouldn’t work on national as well. The discussion just shows how convoluted the process can get, and how long it takes to get through it.

    I think a month or so ago I suggested that the Dems declare a moratorium on most campaigning for April, May and June. The primary subject & action for this time period should be election reform. Before it’s too late to get it done.

  12. Connie says:

    Marjorie and Ginny, I agree with you both. If the democratic party does not realize that THE MOST IMPORTANT part of their agenda now should be ensuring accurate, honest counting at the polls, all our efforts to get out the vote will be in vain. Sen. Kerry should seek out Rep. John Conyers to brief him on all this, as he is quite knowlegeable.