June 21, 2009
After months of behind-the-scenes discussions Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has introduced the latest incarnation of his Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility bill.
Beginning in 2003 in the aftermath of HAVA Holt has introduced various versions of this bill in every Congress, the latest being HR 2894. The main provisions of the “new and improved” VCIAA bill would move the nation toward universal voter marked paper ballots and post-election audits for Federal elections. The bill was introduced with 75 co-sponsors, demonstrating widespread support in the House. Read the rest of this entry »
June 29, 2008
In his new book, Gaming the Vote, author William Poundstone applies an area of mathematics called game theory to various alternatives to the current winner-takes-all method of counting the vote. This provides a useful perspective that is far different from the rhetorical chest-pounding about “increased democracy”, or “more choices for the voter” that usually accompanies discussions of IRV, STV or other variants of ranked choice voting.
In a review of Gaming the Vote, Berylium Sphere writes on Technocrat http://technocrat.net/d/2008/6/28/44675
…the book talks about the nature, the history, and especially the malfunctions of alternatives such as instant runoff voting, approval voting, Condorcet voting and Borda voting. It covers the (often incandescent) theoretical debates about whether the problems of each are significant in real life, in enough detail to be accurate but while remaining clear to a non-specialist. He explains the theorem that all ranking-based voting systems have paradoxes (the Arrow Impossibility Theorem). Most of the alternatives, except for approval voting and the system Poundstone saves for the end as the best choice, involve letting the voter rank all the candidates in order of preference. Read the rest of this entry »
June 25, 2008
Senator Bill Nelson’s attempt at comprehensive reform, S.J.Res. 39, was just introduced in the U.S. Senate. Because it is so late in the cycle the bill has little chance of passing before the new Congress is sworn in next January. The “One Person, One Vote Initiative” contains some intriguing elements, including a proposed Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College.
Any constitutional amendment faces an uphill battle because of the need for passage by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress followed by adoption by three-fourths of the 50 states (Article V). Not likely to happen very quickly.
For those in need of a refresher about why the Electoral College was created by the Framers, it should be said that those who designed our Constitutional system never envisioned that the President would be elected by popular vote. They planned to have state legislatures select the members of the Electoral College who would in turn gather to vote for President and Vice-President. Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2008
…And the rest of us will find out via a recount in New Hampshire. Because Diebold won’t tell.
The paper ballots hold the key.
I have said before and I will say it again here — paper ballots are not enough to ensure election integrity and transparency. You’ve got to do something with the paper to check the election results — like a mandatory routine audit. If New Hampshire had a law on the books requiring a post-election audit we would not be in the ignominious position of
- first, begging for a candidate, any candidate, to step forward and ask for a recount and,
- second, scrambling around to help raise funds to pay the thousands of dollars it costs to recount all the ballots even in a small state like New Hampshire.
We are grateful that Democrat Kucinich and Republican Howard have stepped forward to help find answers the burning questions: Who really won the primary — and, could the vote have been hacked? Read the rest of this entry »
January 11, 2008
The internet has been abuzz since Tuesday night with wild claims that Hillary Clinton “hacked” the NH Primary — or that someone else perpetrated the dirty deed to help Clinton and McCain triumph in the Granite State. Some point to differences between the margins in hand-counted precincts vs. optical scan precincts. Others claim that the pre-election polling could not be so far off from reported results.
Both of these cries of “fraud”, and “hacking” are based on flawed logic — and stunning ignorance or basic misunderstanding of statistics. They also fail to look at the demographic make-up of precincts that produced different margins for the candidates. On the other hand, there has been an almost universal failure to consider whether well-documented problems with the type of optical scan machine used in New Hampshire offers at least a partial explanation of how this happened. Read the rest of this entry »
January 7, 2008
“Can You Count on Voting Machines?” is the question posed by Clive Thompson in his cover article in this week’s New York Times Magazine. The answer, of course, is a resounding “No” due to flawed design, buggy software and poor quality control in the manufacture of these machines, as Thompson ably demonstrates. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/magazine/06Vote-t.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin
Thompson’s solid article is a timely reminder on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary that the nation’s election system is still broken. The curtain was pulled back in Florida 2000 to reveal the sorry state of U.S. elections and, despite the efforts of activists and politicians, there is not as much progress as one would hope. Some states like Florida are making great strides toward transparent paper-based systems, while others like Maryland, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Virginia are still struggling to ditch paperless voting machines.
However, there are a few areas of omission that need to be filled in and a few bits of mis-information that need to be corrected. Read the rest of this entry »
December 29, 2007
Sean Flaherty of Iowans for Voting Integrity has penned an eloquent letter to the current crop of presidential hopefuls urging them to insist on paper ballots in the upcoming primaries. He calls particular attention to the well-documented problems with the paperless DRE called the iVotronic that will be used in the early-voting state of South Carolina (but this machine is also used in many other states including populous Pennsylvania, Texas, and Indiana).
Reproduced below is Sean’s well-footnoted plea to the presidential candidates to request paper for the presidential primaries.
I write to call your attention to the insecurity of South Carolina’s upcoming Presidential primary, and to respectfully urge that you request the election officials of South Carolina to use paper ballots, and conduct manual audits of electronic vote tallies in the January 19 Republican primary.
South Carolina uses a paperless touch screen system statewide, the iVotronic  Paperless electronic voting is reckless in any right, but the iVotronic has managed to become notorious on its own terms. Key facts: Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2007
Debunking Bev’s tissue of factoids and insinuendo
I just received a fundraising appeal from Black Box Voting (Bev Harris’ 501(c)(3) organization) that left me scratching my head. So much of the information contained in the one-pager mailed to my home wrapped around a donation envelope was not based upon well-researched facts. Instead it was a farrago on insinuation and hyperbole designed to get raise alarms enough to folks to open their wallets to BBV.
Here is one passage that is a mix of information and mis-information:
Oregon does have some unique issues with its voting system. Oregon’s mail-in votes will be counted by ES&S computerized voting machines. It was an ES&S mail-in vote counting scanner (like those used to count Oregon mail-in votes) that was caught miscounting votes in Broward County, Florida in the 2004 presidential election. ES&S scanners were also caught miscounting in Orange County, Fla.
Let’s do a line-by-line analysis of the above paragraph and see where Bev gets it wrong. Read the rest of this entry »