August 28, 2009

Ted Kennedy: Champion of Voting Rights

Posted in Access for Disabled Voters, Election reform, Elections, FEC, Senator Ted Kennedy, voter registration, Voting Rights, Voting Rights Act tagged , , , , , , at 1:50 pm by bluebanshee

Amidst all the eulogies for the “liberal lion” of the Senate — Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts — one important part of his legacy is often mentioned in passing, if it gets mentioned at all.  That legacy is Senator Kennedy’s role in expanding and protecting voting rights for all Americans.

Because of Ted Kennedy’s work, millions of American voters are able to participate in the most basic function of a citizen in a democracy:  they are able to make their voices heard at the ballot box and vote  for the candidate of their choosing. Read the rest of this entry »


August 27, 2009

Hawaii experiments with internet voting

Posted in Election reform, Elections, internet voting tagged , , , at 10:04 pm by bluebanshee

Recently, Hawaii held a first-in-nation all-digital election for local district races using telephone and internet technologies.  The company providing the technological solutions hailed the election as a great success.  In reality, voter participation plummeted to a fraction of the previous levels.  If this was supposed to encourage more voters to cast a ballot by making it more convenient, it was an epic fail.  The drop in voter participation was a dramatic  83 percent — let me say this again — epic fail .

Read the rest of this entry »

June 21, 2009

Will 4th time be the charm for Holt’s bill?

Posted in election audits, Election reform, Elections, paper ballots, politics, voting tagged , , , , at 9:44 pm by bluebanshee

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 »

May 25, 2009

HI tries public campaign financing

Posted in Election reform, Elections, public campaign financing, voter owned elections tagged , , at 3:32 pm by bluebanshee

The Aloha state’s first publicly funded elections will be tested on the Big Island next year.  Hawaii will join jurisdictions throughout the U.S. that are instituting the public financing option.

Candidates for city council will need to make a decision by February 1, 2010 if they wish to participate.  Meanwhile, there is a lot of work to do in developing rules and procedures.

The state Campaign Spending Commission must comply with the law by hiring and training new staff, creating an online filing system, creating a candidate’s guide, providing training classes and developing an independent and nonpartisan review committee for the funding program.

“We have a long way to go,” said commission Executive Director Barbara Wong. “There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked as we’ve gone through the law.” Read the rest of this entry »

April 27, 2009

New Option for Visually Impaired Voters

Posted in Access for Disabled Voters, Alternate Format Ballot, Election reform, Elections, ES&S, Large Format Ballot, paper ballots, Uncategorized, voter verified paper ballots, voting tagged , , , at 2:37 pm by bluebanshee

Oregon  has been leading the way in providing access to disabled voters and has just announced a new enhancement that will address the needs of visually impaired voters — large format ballots (LFB).  Many voters with vision problems simply need larger type sizes on the printed page rather than electronic voting devices called DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) machines.

One of the chief arguments for the continued use of DRE’s in elections across the US  is the perception that DRE’s are needed to provide access for disabled voters.  Oregon is proving that this is not the only way to assist those who have vision impairments. Read the rest of this entry »

March 3, 2009

The Perils of Internet Voting

Posted in Election reform, Elections, internet voting, UOCAVA, voting tagged , , , at 12:21 am by bluebanshee

The idea of being to cast one’s ballot  on the internet has a seductive appeal — the deceptive facade of  web security leads many to make a giant leap and assume that internet voting will give  military personnel and others stationed abroad  a safe gateway to participation in U.S.  elections.  Many even compare online voting to online banking or the common use of ATMs as evidence that the risks of internet voting can be mitigated.  A closer examination shows that this complacency about the true risks of internet voting is based on false comparisons and could lead to a rush to embrace internet voting without due consideration being given to the very real dangers of  internet voting.

Let us consider in turn the four main areas of concern which much be addressed:

the potential for breaches of the secret ballot,

the open door to voter fraud,

the insecure nature of the internet,

the budgetary impact of developing a system of online voting.

Breaching the secret ballot

The secret ballot for each and every voter should be sacred. That is a bedrock American value, intrinsic to our election system. If internet voting is implemented we will be asking an important segment of voters to give up their right to ballot secrecy. Using current technology there is no way that a ballot cast on the internet can be completely dissociated from a particular voter and thus any citizen casting a vote over the internet would be implicitly waiving their right to a secret ballot. Why should overseas voters, especially those deployed by the DOD in Iraq or Afghanistan, have fewer rights than any other American citizen? Why should the military deployed overseas, of all groups of voters, be asked towaive their right to the secret ballot? The secret ballot is one of the American values that our military are defending and they should not be given fewer rights to secrecy than their fellow citizens stateside. Read the rest of this entry »

February 21, 2009

Why I oppose the so-called ‘National Popular Vote’ proposal

Posted in Abolish Electoral College, Election reform, Elections, Sen. Bill Nelson, voting tagged , , , , at 7:46 pm by bluebanshee

Many on the left support the proposed National Popular Vote plan because there is an unspoken assumption that it is a thoroughly progressive idea.  Upon closer examination that implicit belief about the inherent progressive roots of the National Popular Vote is revealed to be false. Read the rest of this entry »

November 28, 2008

Making the case for Open Source software for elections

Posted in Debra Bowen, Election reform, Elections, politics, voting, voting machines tagged , , , at 10:12 pm by bluebanshee

It’s not the voting that’s democracy, it’s the counting.

(Tom Stoppard, British playwright, 1972)

If the counting of the vote lies at the heart of democracy then vote-counting conducted in secret on proprietary software is a dagger threatening to still that heartbeat and undermine the integrity of the process.   Among those who have looked into the abyss of secret vote-counting software is California Secretary of State Debra Bowen when she set up a task force to study the software used in her state’s elections. Read the rest of this entry »

August 31, 2008

You can make elections better: Sign up for Pollworkers for Democracy

Posted in 2008 election, Election reform, Elections, voting tagged , , , , at 3:06 pm by bluebanshee

You can make a difference!  Pollworkers for Democracy is a program designed to involve ordinary citizens in the elections process this November.  Here’s the description from the Pollworkers for Democracy website:

Pollworkers for Democracy is an effort to recruit, train, and network 5,000 citizen pollworkers for the November 4, 2008 election and beyond. Official pollworkers have a vital role in running fair, accountable elections in which all eligible voters are able to cast their ballots and have them counted.

Join us as a pollworker on the front lines of democracy this November 4, or learn more about the program here

Take a look at the opinions about the important role played by citizens working at the polls during elections.  There is a pressing need for more and better workers  in election offices across the country.

[Poll workers are] the foundation upon which democracy rests…the cornerstone of democracy is the right to vote, but to be able to exercise that right there must be polling places and poll workers.

— Victor Salazar, Fresno County Clerk, quoted in the Fresno Bee, April 21, 2006

If the criminal justice system didn’t have access to jurors, the criminal justice system wouldn’t exist. Poll workers are just as important as jurors.

–DeForest Soaries, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, quoted by the Associated Press

Where’s the next generation of poll workers? We need passion about this whole process and civic participation.

— Kay J. Maxwell, president of the U.S. League of Women Voters, quoted in a 2004 Associated Press article

As long as they’re breathing and they can walk in, we have to take them. The people we hire for the most part are elderly, uneducated, and frequently unemployed.

— Barbara Jackson, Baltimore’s director of elections, quoted in USA Today



July 28, 2008

Action Alert: Tell your Senators to vote NO on S. 3212

Posted in Diane Feinstein, Election reform, Elections, paper ballots, S. 3212, voter verified paper ballots, voting, voting machines tagged , , , , , , , at 11:10 pm by bluebanshee

Here is the latest from my friends at Verified Voting:

We need your help today to make sure that Congress does not reverse the nation’s progress toward voter-verified paper ballots. It is not an exaggeration to say this could be one of the most important actions you ever take on the issue of verified voting. After you take action, please forward this message to your friends.

Here is what’s happening. This Wednesday, the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on S.3212, a bill aimed at providing independent verification of ballots cast on electronic voting machines. That’s a laudable goal, but S.3212 gets it wrong – very wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

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