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Rep. Holt Introduces Emergency Bill to Help Ensure Accuracy, Integrity of 2008 Election
New from National Issues - Federal Legislation
By Rep. Rush Holt Media Release   
January 18, 2008
Legislation Would Reimburse State and Local Jurisdictions That Opt in for Paper Ballots and/or Audits

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ, pictured at right) today introduced the Emergency Assistance for Secure Elections Act of 2008, a plan to allow state and local jurisdictions to opt-in to receive reimbursements from the federal government if they convert to a paper ballot voting system,offer emergency paper ballots, and/or conduct audits by hand counts.

"While the House has not acted on our legislation to require paper ballots and audits for all votes in all states in time for 2008, there is still time to take action to protect the accuracy, integrity, and security of the 2008 general elections," Holt said. "This plan provides an incentive for state or localities that want to do the right thing."

The bill would authorize $500 million to reimburse paperless jurisdictions that convert to paper-based voting systems in 2008, as well those that don't fully convert to a paper-based system but provide emergency paper ballots that would be counted as regular ballots in the event of machine failure. The reimbursements would cover the cost of equipment and cost of developing procedures for using a paper-based system, with or without electronic counting.

Additionally, the bill would authorize $100 million for jurisdictions that conduct audits that meet basic minimum requirements, including the use of a random selection, an independent auditor, at least a 3 percent audit sample, and public observation.
Maryland: Governor O'Malley Funds Voting System Change
New from States - Maryland
By Save Our Votes Media Release   
January 16, 2008
New, Less Expensive System Will Allow for Recounts

Save Our Votes (SOV) sent its congratulations to Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley today for including in his proposed budget for the next fiscal year funds for the purchase of a new voting system based on paper ballots counted by optical scanners in each precinct.
The Governor has long advocated replacing the state's paperless touch-screen system. His action today is supported by nearly two-thirds of Maryland voters, according to a recent statewide public opinion poll by Gonzales Research. []
"We are delighted that the Governor and the General Assembly have responded to the voters and moved forcefully to replace our risky system with one that will be both secure and cost-effective,
" Robert Ferraro, co-director of SOV said today.
The new system will allow voters to ensure that their votes are recorded as they intend to cast them, and provide a means for independent recounts, capabilities which are not possible with the current voting system. This change will bring Maryland into line with the many other states that have recently abandoned touch-screen voting in favor of voter-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanners. Florida expects to have optical scanners in place statewide before this year’s presidential election. California and Ohio have both enacted severe restrictions on the use of touch-screen voting machines after thorough reviews of their security and reliability.
A Quick Fix for Electronic Voting
New from National Issues - Federal Legislation
By New York Times Editorial   
January 16, 2008
When Americans go to the polls in November, many will likely have to cast their ballots on unreliable paperless electronic voting machines. If the election is close, the country could end up with a rerun of 2000’s bitterly contentious and mistrusted count. In an effort to avoid another such disaster, Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, plans to introduce a bill this week that would help address the weaknesses in electronic voting. Congress should pass it without delay.

The flaws of electronic voting machines have been thoroughly documented by academic studies and by voters’ experiences. The machines are far too vulnerable to hacking that could change the outcomes of elections. They are also so prone to mechanical error and breakdown that there is no way to be sure that the totals they report are correct. In some cases, these machines have been known to “flip” votes — award votes cast for one candidate to an opponent.

The solution is for all votes to be recorded on paper records. Voters can then verify that their choice has been accurately reflected — and the paper record can be used as a backup for the electronic machines. Whenever votes are tallied on electronic machines, there should be an audit of paper records as a check on the electronic results. If the paper totals do not match the electronic tallies, something has clearly gone wrong — and the tally of the paper ballots can be treated as the official one.

Read the Entire Editorial at The New York Times
TrueVote Applauds O'Malley For Funding Transition to Paper Ballot
New from States - Maryland
By TrueVote Maryland   
January 16, 2008
Urges Legislature to Keep Funding in Budget

Today, thanked Governor Martin O'Malley for including $3.4 million in his budget to transition Maryland back to a voting system based on paper ballots counted by optical scanners.

"This is a historic step for election integrity in Maryland.  Governor O'Malley promised to fund the bill and kept his promise.  A return to paper ballots is widely supported by the Maryland voters and will save the state money by reducing the costs of election administration. It is a smart fiscal decision as well as a good decision for the health of our democracy," said Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of is the largest election integrity organization in the state with members in all of the states 23 counties.  It has worked for five years to put in place a voter verified paper ballot. "We are near the culmination of five years of citizen effort.  The final hurdle is to protect this funding from being cut from the budget by the legislature. will be working with the legislature to ensure this transition is completed," said Zeese.
New York and New Hampshire
New from States - New Hampshire
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
January 12, 2008
New Hampshire has what New York needs

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

I fully support calls for a recount in New Hampshire. That's why we want paper ballots, so we can audit. As far as I'm concerned, audits are ALWAYS warranted, regardless of the reason. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why New Yorkers for Verified Voting has worked so hard for paper ballots in New York State - so we can audit and recount.

That being said, I personally believe the claims being made by some that fraud was perpetrated in New Hampshire based on polls are premature. The majority of people who look closely at elections know that there’s many reasons why poll results might vary from actual results. The differences in the New Hampshire polls and the results could easily be accounted for by undecideds, people who don't want to talk to pollsters, or simply the inherent inaccuracy of polls. As I learn more about auditing and talk with statisticians I've come to see that polls are not sufficient to use as a benchmark for fraud.

While the majority of advocates in the Election Integrity movement don’t see anything astonishing about the New Hampshire results, others are saying that the primary proves that paper ballots and scanners should not be chosen to replace lever machines in New York State. But there is no evidence to draw that conclusion. What New Hampshire has that New York needs is auditable paper ballots. New Hampshire will be able to recount and audit their election. That’s a very good thing and I hope they do it soon.

Let me repeat this, because it's important: I fully support calls for a recount in New Hampshire, because audits are ALWAYS warranted. Indeed, this is what we've worked for all these years.
Arizona: Databases for Elections Released to Democrats
New from States - Arizona
By Garry Duffy, Tucson Citizen   
January 12, 2008
Pima County Elections Division officials Friday turned over the computer databases for the 2006 elections to the Pima County Democratic Party, as directed by the Board of Supervisors earlier this week.

Democrats sought the databases - electronic records of the county's Diebold-GEMS voting system and ballot tabulating procedures - to look for irregularities that might show vote tampering.

Party officials also plan to use the information to create a tool that will automatically analyze elections systems and vote tabulations for aberrations that could point to elections fraud.

The Democrats prevailed in a lawsuit filed last year seeking the databases.

Elections officials and County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry had refused their request to examine them.

The surrender of the databases to a political party as part of their role as official elections observers may set a precedent.

"This is the biggest release of electronic data files ever in this country," said John R. Brakey, one of the computer experts assisting the Democrats in their case.

Read the Entire Article at The Tucson Citizen
New Hampshire Secretary of State Announces Statewide Recount
New from States - New Hampshire
By New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner Press Release   
January 11, 2008
Secretary of State William M. Gardner (pictured at right) announced today that Albert Howard, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Republican Party Primary and Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for nomination for the office of President of the United States in the Democratic Party, have requested a recount of all ballots cast statewide.

Mr. Howard and Mr. Kucinich have satisfied the requirements for initiating a statewide recount of the Republican and Democratic Primary.

Secretary of State William M. Gardner will estimate the cost of the recounts, which must be paid by the candidate(s) for the recount to proceed.

Secretary of State Gardner announced that the recounts will start Wednesday, January 16, 2008.

The time and location for the start of the recount process will be announced after the estimate has been completed and payment of the estimated cost has been received.

New Hampshire law, RSA 660:7, provides that “any person for whom a vote was cast for any nomination of any party at a state or presidential primary may apply for a recount.” RSA 660:2, IV provides that if the difference between the vote cast for the applying candidate and a candidate declared elected shall be greater than 3 percent of the total votes cast in the towns which comprise the office to be recounted, the candidate shall pay the fees provided in RSA 660:2, III and shall agree in writing with the secretary of state to pay any additional costs of the recount.” RSA 660:6 provides that if the person requesting the recount is declared the winner after the recount or loses by a margin of less than one percent of the total votes cast, the fees for the recount will be refunded by the State.

Secretary of State Gardner reports that the last time New Hampshire did a statewide recount of the results of the Presidential Primary was in 1980.

Unofficial results indicate that Albert Howard received 44 votes for nomination in the Republican Primary and Dennis Kucinich received 3,901 votes for nomination in the Democratic Primary.
Kucinich Asks for New Hampshire Recount in the Interest of Election Integrity
New from States - New Hampshire
By Dennis Kucinich Media Release   
January 10, 2008
KucinichDemocratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the most outspoken advocate in the Presidential field and in Congress for election integrity, paper-ballot elections, and campaign finance reform, has sent a letter to the New Hampshire Secretary of State asking for a recount of Tuesday’s election because of “unexplained disparities between hand-counted ballots and machine-counted ballots.”

“I am not making this request in the expectation that a recount will significantly affect the number of votes that were cast on my behalf,” Kucinich stressed in a letter to Secretary of State William M. Gardner. But, “Serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors have surfaced in the past few days…It is imperative that these questions be addressed in the interest of public confidence in the integrity of the election process and the election machinery – not just in New Hampshire, but in every other state that conducts a primary election.”

Also, the reports, allegations, and rumors regarding possible vote-count irregularities have been further fueled by the stunning disparities between various “independent” pre-election polls and the actual election results," Kucinich wrote. "The integrity, credibility, and value of independent polling are separate issues, but they appear to be relevant in the context of New Hampshire’s votes."
He added, “Ever since the 2000 election – and even before – the American people have been losing faith in the belief that their votes were actually counted. This recount isn’t about who won 39% of 36% or even 1%. It’s about establishing whether 100% of the voters had 100% of their votes counted exactly the way they cast them.”
Kucinich, who drew about 1.4% of the New Hampshire Democratic primary vote, wrote, “This is not about my candidacy or any other individual candidacy. It is about the integrity of the election process.” No other Democratic candidate, he noted, has stepped forward to question or pursue the claims being made.
“New Hampshire is in the unique position to address – and, if so determined, rectify – these issues before they escalate into a massive, nationwide suspicion of the process by which Americans elect their President. Based on the controversies surrounding the Presidential elections in 2004 and 2000, New Hampshire is in a prime position to investigate possible irregularities and to issue findings for the benefit of the entire nation,” Kucinich wrote in his letter.
“Without an official recount, the voters of New Hampshire and the rest of the nation will never know whether there are flaws in our electoral system that need to be identified and addressed at this relatively early point in the Presidential nominating process,” said Kucinich, who is campaigning in Michigan this week in advance of next Tuesday’s Presidential primary in that state.

Outcomes and Rationalization in Voter ID
New from National Issues - Voting Rights
By Bob Bauer   
January 10, 2008
This article was posted on Bob Bauer's blog and isreposted here with permission of the author.

Two observations, one framed as a concern, have pushed through to the surface after the Court’s argument in the voter ID case.  One is that the Court may find its way out by specifying that any answers lie in as-applied challenges.  This is the concern.  Another is that the Court stayed away from acknowledging the partisan dimensions of the conflict over ID in Indiana.  This has been expressed more as an observation, though it could well qualify as a concern.

On as applied challenges:  this is not the best outcome, nor—all things considered—would it be the worst.  Paul Smith at argument said it would lead to a “morass.”  Oral Argument Transcript at 65.  Rick Hasen fears that it could contribute mightily to the spreading volume of election law litigation.

Smith and Hasen are each right, seen from one angle; but from another, if this is all we can hope for, than it might well be just the shock that legislatures deserve.  In time, legislators might be encouraged to write laws less vulnerable to being picked apart on an as-applied basis.  At any rate, having abdicated their responsibility to write these laws responsibly, on a reasonably neutral basis, they would face the embarrassment, cost and disruption of judicial second-guessing.  They might come to do better, particularly if there is editorial and public outcry forcing them to the effort.
Maryland: 2008 Election Judge Training
New from States - Maryland
By Avi Rubin, Johns Hopkins University   
January 10, 2008
This article was posted at Avi Rubin's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

I attended my Maryland election judge training session today. It was a 3 hours class for returning judges. There was really nothing new for me. I've already worked 4 elections using the Diebold Accuvote machines, and we will be using them again this year. I did, however, notice a change in the tone of the class.

Right up front, the instructor told us that the three most important factors for us to consider are "Security, Integrity, and Accuracy". These three things were stressed throughout the day. The instructor talked about the 20/20 segment where a hacker was able to change tallies on the machine (I think it was Harri Hursti), and told us of a new tamper tape that was placed on the corner of the machine where there is a screw for opening up the casing. As before, I had a good look at this tamper tape and determined that it would be extremely difficult to tell if the tape had been voided or not. I think these tamper tapes are emperor's clothes designed to make administrators feel good. One of the trainers referred to it as the "Lou Dobbs seal", in reference to Lou Dobbs' coverage of e-voting problems leading up to the 2006 election.

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