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Withheld by the EAC, Provisional Ballot Study Has Now Been Leaked
New from National Issues - Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
By Warren Stewart, Verified Voting Foundation   
December 03, 2007

Loyola Law School professor and election laqw specialist Rick Hasen has posted the Eagleton Provisional Ballot Study, the last of three reports commissioned and then withheld from the public by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

 

Eagleton Report on Provisional Voting
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F, 491 pages of state statutes, was too large to post.

 
Professor Hasen explained on his excellent Election Law Blog:

In May 2005, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission awarded a contract to the Eagleton Institute of Politics (which subcontracted with Election Law @ Moritz) to produce a study on provisional voting. On July 28, 2005 Thomas O'Neil and Dan Tokaji gave a powerpoint presentation about the status of the research on provisional voting, indicating that much of the research was already completed.

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Republicans in Texas County Reject Paperless Primary
New from States - Texas
By Sean Flaherty, Iowans for Voting Integrity   
December 02, 2007

But Voters in South Carolina and 12 Other States Will Vote on Paperless Voting Machines

 

The Republican Party of Wharton County, Texas has decided that the the ES&S iVotronic is not reliable enough to use in its March 2008 primary election. Wharton County Republican Party chairwoman Debra Medina announced that the party's 22 precinct chairs had agreed to use voter-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanners.

The iVotronic will also be used statewide in the South Carolina Presidential primaries on January 19 and January 26. Counties in 10 other states will also use the iVotronic in next years' primaries.

The Wharton County Republicans' decision followed an incident in the November 7 election in which a local businessman tried to vote on one proposed constitutional amendment, and saw his previous vote for another proposed amendment change before his eyes.

The iVotronic is the same voting machine that recorded an implausible number of undervotes in a 2006 Florida Congressional election, and thereby influenced Florida's decision to abandon direct-recording electronic voting. The machine has become notorious for elections with abnormally high undervotes, vote-flipping on both the review screen and the selection screen, lost votes, and added votes.

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The DOJ and New York State – Part 2
New from States - New York
By Bo Lipari, New Yorkers for Verified Voting   
December 02, 2007

DOJ Calls for Chaos at NYS Polls in 2008


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

 

As noted in Part One, the US Department of Justice has filed a motion asking the US District Court to appoint a Special Master to oversee replacing all of New York States lever machines by the November 2008 election. In Part One I discussed how if the Court were to decide in favor of the DOJ and rule that New York State must replace all lever voting machines prior to the November 2008 Presidential election, that paper ballots and precinct based ballot scanners would be the only feasible way to do it. In this essay I’ll discuss why the DOJ’s request is not a good idea and could result in New York State being the next Florida.

A little history

 

Let’s remember how we got here – in response to the electoral chaos in Florida in 2000, Congress passed the Help America to Vote Act, or HAVA. HAVA has some laudable goals, among them full poll site accessibility for voters with disabilities. But for all its good intentions, HAVA has worked out to be a huge tax payer funded piggy bank for the three primary voting machine vendors – Sequoia, ES&S, and the company formerly known as Diebold.
The media’s extreme focus in 2000 on Florida’s punch card voting machines and chads pregnant and hanging resulted in Congress, forever reacting to the wrong problem, effectively banning punch card and lever voting machines. Never mind that the punch card machines themselves were not the problem – it was the layout of the notorious Palm Beach ‘butterfly ballot’, and improper maintenance of the equipment that caused difficulties.

 

Never mind that improper purges of Florida’s voter registration rolls probably accounted for more lost votes than any voting machine. A careful Congressional analysis would have resulted in a far different law than the HAVA we got. The one we got simply threw billions of dollars to the states who quickly spent the funds on whatever faulty equipment the voting machine vendors were hawking. As we see now, many states who purchased expensive touch screen voting machines (DREs) have lived to regret that choice. Indeed, even Florida has now decided to abandon its multimillion dollar investment in DREs and return to a superior system – paper ballots, ballot markers and scanners.

 

So now, in order to fulfill HAVA’s goal of preventing chaos at the polls, the DOJ wants New York to take a step that could result in, you guessed it, chaos at the polls.

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Connecticut: Bysiewicz To Consider Elimination Of Manual Recounts
New from States - Connecticut
By CTVotersCount.org   
December 01, 2007

Posted at CTVotersCount.org.

 

Last year the Legislature passed PA 07-194 mandating audits of the optical scan machines. Last year, Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz promised advocates that regulations would mandate that recounts be manual recounts and did not need to be included in the law. Now with less than half the mandated audits complete, according to the New London Day she is reconsidering that promise. Just one example of why it is not safe to rely on regulations and procedures to accomplish what should be in the law: <read>

Bysiewicz said if those results continue, she would recommend that future recounts be done by feeding the ballots into a different optical scanner from the one used during the election. Election workers would have to count only ballots that could not be read by the machines.

It seems she may not recommend that change for audits, just for recounts. But don’t voters have even more interest in seeing that their votes were counted as intended in a recanvass?

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New York Times: Say No to Computerized Voting Machines
New from States - New York
By New York Times Editorial Board   
November 30, 2007

The 2008 presidential election is fast approaching and some states are still using unreliable paperless computerized voting machines.

 

That is a big mistake. The danger is too great of votes being recorded wrong — or stolen.

Touchscreen machines — which resemble a bank ATM — are simply too prone to glitches like “vote-flipping,” in which votes for a candidate are recorded for his or her opponent. And it is too easy to plant malicious software that changes votes without anyone noticing.

Many states, but not all, now require their touchscreen machines to produce a “voter-verified paper trail” — a paper record of the vote that a voter can review, which becomes the official ballot. These paper records can be audited, to ensure that the recorded vote totals are correct.

 

Voter verified paper trails are an improvement, but the best solution is to avoid touchscreen voting machines entirely.

 

New York State is in the process of choosing a new generation of voting machines. It should reject electronic voting machines and go with optical scans.

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Voting Can Be a Real Battle for U.S. Troops and Others Overseas in the 2008 Primaries
New from National Issues - Overseas/Military Voting
By The Century Foundation   
November 30, 2007

New Report from The Century Foundation Explores Problems Facing Military and Overseas Voters and Offers Ideas for Assuring Their Rights

 

Download the Century Foundation Report

 

U.S. Troops in Iraq and other places around the world are center stage in this year’s presidential elections. But when it comes to casting votes for the candidates, American soldiers and other U.S. citizens living abroad often face daunting obstacles. A new report from The Century Foundation sheds light on this problem, which has received surprisingly little public attention. It also warns that with a frontloaded primary system and a large number of caucuses, U.S. military personnel and other citizens living abroad could find it more difficult than ever to have their votes count.

In “Bringing Voting Rights to Military and Overseas Voters,” report author Tova Wang, Democracy Fellow at The Century Foundation, explains how difficult it is for military and overseas voters to vote, examines the problems encountered in making sure that their votes are counted, and suggests reforms for both easing the procedural problems and improving turnout among this often neglected group of voters.

According to the report, a survey by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) showed that only 5.5 percent of eligible military and overseas voters actually participated successfully in the 2006 election. The EAC survey and reports by the Department of Defense indicate that the most common reasons for the rejection of a military or overseas ballot is that it is received past the deadline or that the requested ballot sent to the voter is returned as undeliverable because the voter—who could be in a war zone—has moved from his or her previous location. Earlier studies have found that many overseas and military voters did not vote in the 2000 election because they received their absentee ballot too late or had not received it at all.

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Pew's electionline.org Examines First Five Years of the Help America Vote Act
New from National Issues - Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
By electionline.org   
November 30, 2007

Five Years After Federal Reform, American Election System Substantially Different but Improvements Unclear


Download electionline's report " HAVA at 5"

 

A new report from electionline.org finds that in the five years since President George W. Bush signed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) into law, election administration in this country has undergone profound change but has not necessarily raised the confidence of the American public. Enacted in 2002 to address the problems revealed by the disputed 2000 presidential vote, HAVA is Congress' largest investment in election reform. The Act devoted $4 billion in federal funds to replace punch card voting machines, develop state voter registration databases and establish the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

"HAVA undoubtedly brought the change to American elections that many sought after the 2000 election," said Doug Chapin, director of Pew's electionline.org. "But the public's lingering concerns over electronic voting, partisan disputes over voter ID and other issues continue to plague America's election system."

Marking the legislation's fifth anniversary, electionline.org, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts' Center on the States, reviews the successes and limitations of HAVA to date.


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New Jersey Voters Deserve Verifiable Elections
New from States - New Jersey
By VerifiedVoting.org   
November 30, 2007
New Jersey's election system is at a crucial crossroads. This Monday, December 3, two important bills will be heard by the New Jersey Senate Government Committee.

 

One, S. 507, will improve the system by requiring audits of every election, as a safeguard to help ensure the accuracy of the vote count. Introduced by Senator Nia Gill, S. 507 mandates random selection of a statistically significant percentage of all election districts' voter-verified paper records (and of all absentee and other ballots) to be hand-counted as a check on the electronic tallies. At least 2% must be selected, and depending on the closeness of the contest, the percentage may increase to ensure the correct candidate is seated in office.

Audits are critical to helping secure our elections.

 

In 2005, the State passed a voter-verified paper record requirement which is due to take effect in 2008, but without robust audits such as those required by S. 507, those records won't be used for their intended purpose of confirming the votes were both recorded and counted correctly. S. 507 strengthens New Jersey's ability to conduct verifiable elections. Your support is needed for S. 507!

 

The second bill, unfortunately, not only fails to strengthen NJ's elections, it would move them backward. S. 2949 would gut the law passed in 2005, pushing the voter-verified paper record back to at least mid-2008, and possibly forever. It gives the Attorney General the authority to use a waiver if a certified technology is not available. Since the AG controls what gets certified, that might be never...

 

Earlier this year, vendors submitted printers for NJ's electronic voting machines -- and they didn't even pass certification. Despite the availability of a more reliable solution, paper optical scan ballot systems, the AG instead is seeking more time for these printers from the legislature. If you oppose this delay tactic -- and the expanded waiver that may mean NJ never gets any voter-verified paper at all -- you'll send a message that you want New Jersey to take the road to a better voting system, and to take it now.

 

Click Here to Send a Message in Support of Verifiable Elections in New Jersey! 

New York: Professors Call for Optical Scan Systems to Replace Lever Voting Machines
New from States - New York
By New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)   
November 29, 2007

Beware of computerized voting machines, paper-based optical scan systems are a better alternative

 

That's the message from more than 100 computer and social science faculty from universities across New York who signed on to a public letter to state policy makers. The letter was released today by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), as the state nears making a decision on how to replace its 20,000 mechanical lever machines.

 

"Optical Scan systems are inherently more secure, reliable and auditable than their ATM style touch screen counterparts," said Professor Ronald Hayduk of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a noted author on election issues. "As educators in the social and computer sciences familiar with these new technologies, we thought it vital to speak out now before a decision is made," he added.

 

Under federal and state law mandates, New York is expected to replace its lever machines by 2009, though a federal court is currently reviewing the pace of the state's efforts. Currently, each County Board of Elections will be making that decision, choosing between optical scan and computerized touch screen systems. The letter urged that optical scan systems, where voters fill out their ballot by hand or with the assistance of an accessibility device, be adopted statewide.

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A Major Question Before the FEC: SpeechNow.Org’s Case for Independent Activity
New from National Issues - Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By Bob Bauer   
November 29, 2007

This article was posted aqt Bob Bauer's Blog and is reposted herew with permission of the author.

 

A new 527 has been formed, its name is SpeechNow.org, and it has asked for an FEC ruling on independent speech that could change the face of federal campaign finance law. This is very much the new committee’s intention:  its supporters are notable dissenters from the campaign finance regime, such as David Keating and Ed Crane, and its mission is to conduct independent expenditure campaigns, financed with individual funds only, on behalf of candidates who favor defending free speech by opposing statutes such as McCain-Feingold, and against candidates who perform poorly by these measure.  Counsel to SpeechNow.Org before the FEC are the Center for Competitive Politics and the Institute for Justice.

 

SpeechNow.org’s key questions are:  if it is fully independent from candidates, and only individuals fund its activities, does its independent expenditure activity compel it to register and comply with regulatory restrictions as a "political committee"?  And if so, do the contributions that individuals make to this committee fall under the law’s contribution limits?  SpeechNow.org proposes the answers—"no"— to both these questions, arguing the law in its request at length and with considerable skill. 

 

It would be a mistake to imagine that this challenge has been laid carelessly before the Commission, or that SpeechNow.org is smashing itself against a regulatory wall to make an ideological point.  Its case is a serious one, and it has been anticipated, for some time, that the law—now the FEC, eventually the Supreme Court—would have to address it.  Rick Hasen, a while ago, agreed that the question "Is it constitutional to limit contributions to 527s that engage solely in making independent expenditures?" was "very difficult and uncertain."  

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