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NJ Election Discrepancies Worse Than Previously Thought, Contradict Sequoia’s Explanation
New from Vendors - Sequoia Voting Systems
By Ed Felten, Princeton University   
April 05, 2008
This article was posted at Ed Felten's Freedom to Tinker Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I wrote previously about discrepancies in the vote totals reported by Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machines in New Jersey’s presidential primary election, and the incomplete explanation offered by Sequoia, the voting machine vendor. I published copies of the “summary tapes” printed by nine voting machines in Union County that showed discrepancies; all of them were consistent with Sequoia’s explanation of what went wrong.

This week we obtained six new summary tapes, from machines in Bergen and Gloucester counties. Two of these new tapes contradict Sequoia’s explanation and show more serious discrepancies that we saw before.

Before we dig into the details, let’s review some background. At the end of Election Day, each Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine prints a “summary tape” (or “results report”) that lists (among other things) the number of votes cast for each candidate on that machine, and the total voter turnout (number of votes cast) in each party. In the Super Tuesday primary, a few dozen machines in New Jersey showed discrepancies in which the number of votes recorded for candidates in one party exceeded the voter turnout in that party. For example, the vote totals section of a tape might show 61 total votes for Republican candidates, while the turnout section of the same tape shows only 60 Republican voters.

Sequoia’s explanation was that in certain circumstances, a voter would be allowed to vote in one party while being recorded in the other party’s turnout. (”It has been observed that the ‘Option Switch’ or Party Turnout Totals section of the Results Report may be misreported whereby turnout associated with the party or option switch choice is misallocated. In every instance, however, the total turnout, or the sum of the turnout allocation, is accurate.”) Sequoia’s memo points to a technical flaw that might cause this kind of misallocation.

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The Law, Litigation, and LibertyVote
New from States - New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
April 22, 2008
Vendor to sue NY again to allow DREs

This article was posted on Bo Lipari's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I told you the DRE vendors are like zombies, and will never, ever stop trying to force DRE machines on New York State voters. Once again, LibertyVote and their Dutch partner Nedap are preparing to go to Court to challenge county purchases for accessible paper ballot systems, and to overturn New York State’s right to test our voting machines to the strict standards we worked so hard to achieve.

On Thursday, March 20, the Cattaraugus county Board of Elections informed the State Board that they wanted to change the order placed last month for 57 Ballot Marking Devices, and instead want to substitute LibertyVote DREs for the paper ballot systems. This is an astonishing request for several reasons – for one, orders have already been placed for the ballot markers and contracts have been completed, signed and sealed; and for another, the LibertyVote DRE has yet to undergo any testing whatsoever! Yes, that’s right, testing to New York’s rigorous standards has not yet even started, and won’t be completed until this summer at the earliest. But Cattaraugus county is telling the State Board they want to purchase the LibertyVote DRE now, essentially asking them to bypass all testing and simply approve the machine at the next Board meeting on Wednesday, March 26.

The Cattaraugus letter, signed by the county commissioners (and obviously prepared by LibertyVote/Nedap’s lawyers) lays out the vendor’s litigation strategy and arguments to the Court if the State Board refuses the county request to allow them to switch from paper ballots to an uncertified DRE. My guess - if the State Board turns down this outrageous request at the next meeting, LibertyVote/Nedap will be back in State Supreme Court before the close of business asking that New York’s certification testing be canceled and their DRE immediately approved for purchase. And based on their past success in this Court, why wouldn’t they?
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The Cost of E-Voting
New from National Issues - General Topics
By Kim Zetter   
April 05, 2008
This article was posted at Wired.com's Threat Level Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

One reason election officials around the country have given for purchasing touch-screen voting machines is that they say the systems save money -- both in the cost of printing paper ballots and in storing them after an election. Officials have made this claim, despite the fact that the machines carry a steep price tag (about $3,000 per machine).

So SaveOurVotes (.pdf), a voting integrity group in Maryland, decided to see if the 19,000 touch-screen machines their state purchased really did save money. The results aren't really a surprise -- the machines are wildly more expensive than anyone anticipated. But just how expensive they are makes their analysis mandatory reading for any legislators and state or county budget committees that approve voting equipment purchases.

Maryland uses one system statewide -- touch-screen machines made by Diebold Election Systems -- which it purchased in batches in 2002 and 2003. A loan of about $67 million was taken out from the state treasury to pay Diebold for the machines, which counties are still paying off. They'll continue to pay for the machines through 2014, even though the state has since decided to scrap the touch-screen machines, due to security concerns, and change to optical-scan machines by 2010.

Nonetheless, according to SaveOurVotes' figures, by the end of the presidential election this year, Maryland will have spent more than $97.5 million on the machines it's abandoning, but only about half of that can be attributed to the actual cost of purchasing the machines.

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Indiana: State Enforces Action Against Errant Voting System Vendor
New from Vendors - Microvote
By Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita Press Release   
April 04, 2008
Secretary of State Todd Rokita moves to collect fines and fees totaling more than $360,000.00

This week, Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s office filed a Petition to collect civil penalty fees from voting systems vendor, MicroVote General Corp. totaling more than $360,000. The Secretary's Office filed the Petition just as the appeals process is near completion on a July 2007 administrative ruling. The ruling ordered MicroVote to pay the State more than $360,000 in civil penalties and investigative costs stemming from 198 violations of Indiana election law.

"The Secretary of State's Office will not tolerate voting system vendors that violate Indiana's election laws," stated Deputy Secretary of State Matt Tusing. "Moreover, MicroVote's apathetic attitude towards proper certification is disconcerting, especially considering that their profits come from taxpayer dollars.”

“On behalf of voters and taxpayers, our office will continue to fully enforce our laws, protect the integrity of our votes, and work hand-in-hand with county clerks to execute the most fair and accurate election process in the nation,” stated Tusing.

MicroVote came under initial investigation in April 2006 following allegations that the company sold uncertified voting equipment in as many as 47 Indiana counties. Indiana law requires voting systems to be certified by the Indiana Election Commission before being sold, leased, or marketed for use in an election.

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New York Times: Safeguarding Electronic Voting
New from National Issues - Federal Legislation
By Mew York Times   
April 04, 2008
This editorial was posted at the New York Times on April 4, 2008.

After the bungled voting and vote-counting in Florida in 2000, Americans agreed that the nation’s voting systems had to be upgraded. With a presidential election fast approaching, there is a real danger of another meltdown — this time because of the flaws in electronic voting.

This week, a House committee approved a good emergency bill, sponsored by Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, that would help fix the problems. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, should schedule a vote of the full House as soon as possible.

After the 2000 election, Congress made money available to the states to replace the punch-card machines that produced Florida’s infamous hanging and dimpled chads. Unfortunately, many states bought untrustworthy, paperless electronic voting machines. Experience has shown that these machines do not always record the votes that are cast and that they sometimes flip votes from one candidate to another. Expert studies have also proved that they are highly vulnerable to vote theft.

The answer to these problems is voter-verified paper trails — paper records of every vote. After an election, the totals on the machines can be compared with the paper records. If there is a discrepancy, the paper records become the official results.
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Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the Death of Martin Luther King
New from National Issues - General Topics
By Robert F. Kennedy   
April 04, 2008
Forty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King was assasinated. Robert F. Kennedy learned of Dr. King's death just  after he arrived by plane at Indianapolis for a campaign rally,  Kennedy was told of King's death. He was advised by police against making the campaign stop which was in a part of the city considered to be a dangerous ghetto. But Kennedy insisted on going. He arrived to find the people in an upbeat mood, anticipating the excitement of a Kennedy appearance. He climbed onto the platform, and realizing they did not know, broke the news.

Ladies and Gentlemen - I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because...

I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black - considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible - you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization - black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love - a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.
Motion Filed to Ban Georgia Voting Equipment
New from States - Georgia
By VoterGA   
April 04, 2008
Citizens in an electronic voting lawsuit announced that they have filed a summary judgment motion seeking to ban the voting equipment currently used in Georgia. The motion contends that there are no issues of fact at dispute that would warrant a trial for certain counts of the lawsuit.

The main thrust of the motion centers on a lack of equal protection and due process that the plaintiffs claim Election Day voters have when compared to absentee voters who use optically scanned paper ballots. The motion contends that retention of tangible paper ballots is required for voters to verify their actual ballot choices, for election officials to provide true recounts as needed, to investigate voting discrepancies, to prevent fraud and to produce evidence for contested elections.

In addition, the motion seeks to ban database servers used to tabulate electronic and optical scan votes at county and state levels because of admissions from officials that the equipment does not detect fraudulent manipulation of votes.

The landmark motion further seeks to ban the newer sequential roll technology used in three precincts for the 2006 audit trail pilot on the grounds that it jeopardizes secrecy of the ballot, a point that was stated in the 2006 Audit Trail Pilot Report produced by the office of the new Secretary of State in April of 2007.
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Internet Voting is Too Risky for Public Elections
New from National Issues - General Topics
By Verified Voting Foundation   
April 03, 2008
The Verified Voting Foundation issued a warning today that the Internet is not safe for casting ballots in important public elections.  Many computer scientists and others are concerned because Internet voting was used in the Democratic Party's Presidential primary for overseas voters in February, and because several state and national legislators recently have expressed an interest in Internet voting as an option for military service personnel overseas.

“Internet voting is vulnerable to all the risks of paperless computerized voting machines; it allows no meaningful recounts or audits,” said Barbara Simons, a computer scientist and expert on Internet voting. “If ballots are cast on the Internet, attacks on the election can be made by anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world, including individual hackers, political parties, international criminal organizations, hostile foreign governments, or even terrorists.”

“The Internet could be used to make voting easier, by, for example, allowing military and overseas voters a convenient way to obtain an absentee ballot, but votes delivered over the Internet cannot be trusted,” said David Dill, professor of computer science at Stanford University and founder of the Verified Voting Foundation.  "Multiple studies by computer scientists have shown that making Internet voting safe is an incredibly hard problem, not solved yet, and possibly unsolvable.  At this point, any claims of ‘secure Internet voting’ should be regarded with extreme skepticism.”

Connecticut: Coalition Releases 2nd Post-Election Audit Report
New from States - Connecticut
By Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition   
April 03, 2008
Procedures Alone Insufficient For Effective Election Audits

Download the Report

Coalition report on post-presidential-primary audits finds inadequate adherence to procedures and recommends additional changes in the law.

We report the good news that procedures have been significantly improved and that discrepancies noted in the counts in February post election audit were much lower than November. We are also pleased to report that, for the most part, registrars fully supported the portion of the procedures providing significantly improved observation opportunities for observers. These procedures allowed us to visually verify that ballots were being counted accurately and totals reported were accurately accumulated from those counts.


Unfortunately, now that procedures have been improved, the audit observations have exposed the lack of understanding of those procedures, lack of understanding of the principles behind the procedures, lack of attention to those procedures, and apparent lack of ability for election officials to follow those procedures.  


The February audit observations leave us with the information necessary to vouch for the accuracy of the hand-counting results we observed. However, many of the audits, as observed, leave us uncertain as to whether an error or fraud would have been detected in an audited race where we were not present to observe. We also question the security of the chain of custody to protect the integrity of ballots before the audits and to protect the integrity of ballots and tabulators after the audits such that further audits and investigations could effectively be performed.

House Panel Passes Rep. Susan Davis’s No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Legislation
New from National Issues - Federal Legislation
By Representative Susan Davis Press Release   
April 02, 2008
The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act would allow all eligible voters an option to vote by mail

The bill by Rep. Susan Davis to lift restrictions for voting by mail in some states was approved by the House Administration Committee.  The Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (H.R. 281) was reported to the full House on a voice vote.

“This straightforward bill would simply give any eligible voter the option of voting by absentee ballot,” said Davis, a member of the committee.  “No longer would an antiquated patchwork of state laws prevent voters from voting because they have work, family or other commitments.  We will level the playing field by allowing voters in the states that do not have No Excuse Absentee Voting to catch up to the twenty-nine that do.”

Currently, there are twenty-two states that restrict an eligible voter’s ability to vote by mail, also know as absentee.  These states restrict vote by mail privileges to certain categories of people, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities or an illness, or those in the military.  Twenty-eight states give eligible voters the option of voting by mail for any reason.  Oregon conducts its elections entirely by mail.

In many states, excuses such as having to work, taking care of a child, or serving on a jury are not considered valid reasons to be able to vote absentee.
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