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 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 »
December 11, 2007
The election reform measure with broad support in the U.S. House, H.R. 811, appears to be stalled.
So Rep. Rush Holt, the lead sponsor for that bill, is planning to introduce yet another bill in the hope that states will have the ability to upgrade equipment and/or plan for election audits during the 2008 election cycle.
This attempt by Holt to get some forward movement in time for 2008 is good news for all who are worried about another presidential election riven by chaos, controversy and and a lack of confidence in election results by the American public. The news about the new Holt bill was published the National Tech Journal Daily and was reproduced with permission on the VoteTrustUSA site:
Holt’s new proposal would authorize federal reimbursement for states that decide they want to offer paper-based options to voters next fall, as well as conduct audits. His staff discussed the proposal with Democratic leaders this month, and he said in a recent telephone interview that he intends to formally introduce it soon. 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 »
December 4, 2007
Verified Voting has anew action alert for the Senate version of Rush Holt’s H.R. 811. S. 2295, introduced by Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), contains the desirable paper ballot and audit provisions of the original “committee mark” version of H.R. 811 plus the welcome addition of a phase-out of DRE voting machines. Go to the Verified Voting website and use the tools you find there to to contact your Senators and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors for S. 2295.
Less than a year from now, an important national election will be held — but will our voting systems be prepared? Some states have already taken action to require voter-verified paper ballots and mandatory audits to check ballot tallies for accuracy. But what about the rest of the country? Read the rest of this entry »
November 5, 2007
A new, improved version of H.R. 811, The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 has been introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that would outlaw the use of DRE voting machines by 2012. The House bill has been in a kind of limbo awaiting action since it was voted out the House Administration committee in May.
In response to the actions of his Senate colleagues Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) issued a press release praising the introduction of S. 2295:
“Senators Nelson and Whitehouse deserve credit for recognizing the need to give Americans confidence that elections are accurate and verifiable. I look forward to working with them to pass this legislation in Congress and send it to the President for his signature. Congress shouldn’t wait to protect voters’ rights, ensure the accuracy of elections, and increase the confidence of our citizens in their electoral system,”
One cannot fairly describe S. 2295 as a clone of the House version introduced by Rep. Holt but more of a fraternal twin — same genetic heritage but a few differences worth noting. Warren Stewart of Verified Voting believes that there are “significant improvements” in the Senate bill. Among the changes are a new provision that would eliminate the use of DRE voting machines by 2012.
In light of the revelations of the Top to Bottom Review performed at the behest of California SOS Debra Bowen (which happened after Rep. Holt introduced his bill), it is good to see a solid thoughtful legislative response in the provisions of S.2295 to the problems that the California process uncovered.
The text of the bill can be found here:
It is not yet available at Thomas.gov
October 24, 2007
Voters in Maryland want to fund a switch to paper ballots by more than two to one, according to a poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies. This is an interesting result since Maryland was the first state to switch to paperless DRE’s and therefore voters in that state have the most experience with having their votes counted on non-auditable non-recountable less-than-transparent computers (although the Director of Elections in MD seems to be unaware that a machine that runs the Windows operating system like the Diebold voting machines used in her state are really computers). Now with a 95 percent confidence level and a 3.5 percent margin of error the views of Marylanders are known: dump the Diebold boat anchors and buy optical scan machines. Then the voters will be able to fill out their own ballot using pen an paper and verify their selections before putting it in the ballot box. You can find the survey results in the attached Word doc.Maryland Poll Report
Maryland will be following the lead of Florida (notorious for hanging, pregnant and dangling chads in 2000) , with recently moved to replace their DRE’s with optical scan systems under the leadership of Republican Governor Charlie Crist. This is a bi-partisan movement toward paper since Democrat O’Malley is the resident of the statehouse in Maryland. Read the rest of this entry »