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Why Machines Are Bad at Counting Votes PDF  | Print |  Email
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By Wendy M Grossman, The Guardian   
May 03, 2009
Democracy is made difficult by the fact that electronic voting systems are inherently flawed - and susceptible to fraud

This article appeared in the UK Guardian on April 30, 2009.

It's commonly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Yet this is what we keep doing with electronic voting machines - find flaws and try again. It should therefore have been no surprise when, at the end of March, California's secretary of state's office of voting system technology assessment decertified older voting systems from Diebold's Premier Election Solutions division. The reason: a security flaw that erased 197 votes in the Humboldt county precinct in last November's presidential election.

Clearly, 197 votes would not have changed the national result. But the loss, which exceeds the error rate allowed under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, was only spotted because a local citizen group, the Humboldt County Election Transparency Project monitored the vote using a ballot-imaging scanner to create an independent record. How many votes were lost elsewhere?

Humboldt county used Diebold's GEMS operating system version 1.18.19 to tally postal ballots scanned in batches, or "decks". The omission of votes was a result of a flaw in the system, where, given particular circumstances, it deletes the first deck, named "Deck Zero", without noting it in the system's audit logs.

Read the entire article at Guardian.uk.
In Memoriam John Gideon (1947-2009) PDF  | Print |  Email
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By Warren Stewart, Legislative Policy Director, Verified Voting   
April 28, 2009
The election reform community was shocked and saddened today by the news of John Gideon’s sudden and untimely passing. John was a mountain of a man and those of us who had the privilege of knowing him are stronger as a result.

John’s dedication to the cause of honest, fair, and transparent elections was unparalleled. When I first met John early in 2005, he had already been collecting his “Daily Voting News” for a couple years. This daily news clipping service that gathered voting related news stories from across the country was a labor of love and dedication that served as an essential tool in the struggle for election reform.

For those of us in the trenches fighting for election reform his daily entry in the inbox was both informative and reassuring. The archive of voting news stories at VotersUnite.org that resulted from this 365 days a year work is a unique resource – there is simply no other way of researching and reviewing the first draft reports of election incidents over the past half decade.

Retired from the Navy, John was dogged in his refusal of any compensation for his work. Throughout our work together in founding and sustaining VoteTrustUSA, John was steadfast in his support of local grassroots efforts and a consistent champion of integrity and transparency. A disabled Vietnam veteran, John was also deeply concerned about issued affecting his brothers and sisters in the armed services and brought the same passion and dedication to those issues that he did to preserving the integrity of elections.

Thomas Jefferson wrote “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” No one better embodied these words than John Gideon. It was a privilege to know you John – you will be deeply missed but your dedication will continue to be an inspiration.
State and County Elections Offices Struggle with Economic Crisis PDF  | Print |  Email
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By M. Mindy Moretti, Electionline.org   
February 20, 2009
Lay-offs, cutbacks, closings are all on the table to cope with growing deficits

This report appeared in the Electionline Weekly and is reposted here with permission.

Like many in their line of work, the Johnson County, Kan. elections office staff worked tirelessly throughout the 2008 cycle, often working late into the night and frequently coming in on weekends.

Brian Newby, the county’s election commissioner, said he was thrilled with their efforts and would like to show his appreciation somehow, but current budget constraints prevent it.

“Johnson County has frozen all salaries, like many places, but, of course, it is not a morale booster when your staff knocks the biggest election of all time out of the park and is rewarded with a zero increase,” Newby said.  

Furlough days, job vacancies, consolidating elections and delayed voting-machine upgrades: these are just a few problems facing state and local elections offices across the country as the economy continues to tank.

And no county, not even those among the wealthiest in the country, is immune.
Read more...
Hiatus - Back Soon PDF  | Print |  Email
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By VoteTrustUSA   
February 20, 2009
VoteTrustUSA and the Election Integrity News have been quiet for the last few weeks while we we are re-designing the website. Look for us to be more active soon.


U.S. Elections -- It Takes a Village PDF  | Print |  Email
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By Kim Zetter   
November 15, 2008
This article was posted to Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

For years the U.S. has been sending observers oversees to monitor foreign election processes and help assure that democratic principles are followed abroad.

But given the problematic elections that took place at home in 2000 in Florida and in 2004 in Ohio, it has seemed the height of irony to send poll watchers abroad when the entity that seemed most in need of an army of observers was the U.S. election system itself.

This year the country got exactly that in the form of a national hotline staffed with thousands of volunteer legal experts and poll watchers who answered questions, advocated voter rights and documented how the world's leading democracy functioned or malfunctioned on November 4th, accomplishing something that no government entity seemed either interested or capable of doing before now.

The Election Protection Coalition, a network of more than 100 legal, voting rights and civil liberties groups was the force behind the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline, which provided legal experts to answer nearly 87,000 calls that came in over 750 phone lines on Election Day and dispatched experts to address problems in the field as they arose.

All of this was aided by a back-end system and web site, OurVoteLive, created and operated by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which logged calls that came in to the hotline and displayed problem reports in near real time for the media and watchdog groups to observe. It was largely due to this hotline that the public learned about Election-Day problems in Florida, Virginia and elsewhere, and the site now offers the largest database of records documenting election problems and inquiries in the country. The database can be downloaded in its entirety or in report form from the search reports page.

The idea for a real-time monitoring system was launched in 2004 when Verified Voting, spurred by the 2000 election meltdown in Florida, built an open-source system and coordinated with the Election Protection Coalition to track reports that were coming in from the field about election-day problems that year.

Read more...
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