Wednesday, May 25, 2005

NC Leg: Venus Flytrap more impt than Voters

The NC State Legislature is really busy now, in fact they are having a special meeting in Edenton to discuss legislation to make the Venus Flytrap the state carnivorous plant.

Legislature busy with important mattersUp & Coming Magazine, NC - 22 hours ago... Assembly's calendar is full of proposals like Senate Bills 116 and 128 that, respectively, establish the Venus flytrap as North Carolina's official carnivorous ...

Whoopee!

Meanwhile, the legislation to require Voter Verified Paper ballots, that would have prevented the Carteret County fiasco, is languishing in the Senate Judiciary I subcommittee, while special interest groups fight it or try to modify it to suit their needs.

It is amazing to see the pieces of election law that the legislature passes without hearing any testimony or proof from those special interest groups that are promoting them.

Then come our bills, S223 and H238, the Public Confidence in Elections Act, which are fully supported by testimony of national and state computer scientists including a professional hacker employed by fortune 500 companys.

These bills, which were studied by a committee for over two months (my Senator, Ham Horton, wisely told me that it didn't take a committee to see that this legislation was needed)
these bills languish, sitting in committee in suspended animation.

Who doesn't want the bills to pass?

Some election directors, most well know is George Gilbert of Guilford County.
He loves paperless voting. He is more or less the leader of the election directors who love paperless voting. His county mis-reported the presidential vote totals by 22,000 on Nov 2 by the way.

The North Carolina Association of Directors of Elections - another group that George Gilbert seems to speak for. They don't have a website, and they are not a public group.

DRE vendors. They know that if we verify our votes on a paper printout, we will catch their machines miscounting. Technology for touchscreen and push button voting is very poorly done at this time.

Politicians - those who benefit from a system do not want to change it.

WHO WANTS VOTER VERIFIED PAPER BALLOTS?
Citizens, who know that a paper record is used in every other transaction except for voting in 40 counties. Citizens know that banks, offices, gas stations, fast food, hospitals, dept stores, accountants and more all use a paper record to reconcile any digital record against.

We do not have that in elections.
Further, there is no federal or state oversite of these machines.
It is like buying a pig in a poke.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Feb 9,2005 next E-Voting Meeting, Feb 3 cancelled

MEETING FOR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2005 CANCELLED AND RESCHEDULED FOR WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2005 AT 9:30 A.M. IN ROOM 544 LOB
Dr. Ted Selker, one of the principal investigators with the CalTech/MIT Study, will be speaking on Feb. 9, 2005

There will be a meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2005, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.
******Note: Ted Selker is a computer scientist, but his background is NOT in computer security. He shows up wherever voter verified paper ballots are being pushed for. He is one of the few computer scientists known that oppose voter verified paper ballots.

Even with David Allen www.blackboxvoting.com on the committee, the NC BOE has exerted it's
influence in opposition of voter verified paper ballots. David has not allowed any ridiculous and unfounded assertions to go unquestioned, and without David, this committee might be controlled by BOE member Bob Cordle, or attorney Roger Knight, even with the Co-Chairs doing everything possible to ask excellent questions and moderate the meetings.

Sadly, one member even has repeatedly criticized the proposal to have the voting machine source code examined, saying that random audits would make it unneccessary. Legislative Staffer, Gerry Cohen aptly pointed out that examining the source code was the "front end" protection for our votes, and voter verified paper ballots were back-end protection.

The previous meetings began with compelling and well documented testimony by:
Dec 13, 2004 - Justin Moore's powerpoint presentation to the E-Voting committee here , and Justin's website with NC voting info here
Jan 7, 2005 - Chuck Herrin powerpoint presentation to the committee here , Chuck's website here and
Jan 7, 2005 - Rebecca Mercuri presented testimony, here website here

The following meetings were dominated by people with no documentation or facts:

Mr. Hood, of Catawba County telling how great his new paperless DREs are (Catawba is in the top 25 counties for high undervote rate)

Doug Chapin of www.Electionline.org , they have a good news service, but Mr. Chapin is an attorney, not a computer scientist.
I wouldn't call him before buying a pc, much less $60 Million in voting machines.
Further, ElectionLine has Mr. Doug Lewis, director of The Election Center on their staff,
(the organization that is subsidized by three voting machine companies) listed as a consulting advisor.

At the last meeting, commitee member Mr. Cordle (also member of the NC State Board of Elections) blew a cork! He nearly had kittens!
Mr. Cordle was really enraged over the idea that the NCBOE should have an ethics policy!
I thought he might either implode or explode.
- A bit dog really barks!
Anyone who tells me to blindly trust an election official, I say, please read this webpage at NCVoter

Next, comes Mr. Roger Knight, and attorney as well, who believes that we should not have voter verified paper ballots.
WE citizens, who also don't have an ethics policy, might sell our votes, lose them or tamper with them.
Never mind that in the 40 plus optical scan counties, the punch card counties and the hand counted paper counties, we have no reports of anyone tampering with the ballots.

What is wrong with this committee?
436 votes lost in 2002
4,532 votes lost in 2004
are they shooting for
40,000 votes in 2008?

The NC BOE needs to wake up! Listen to the computer scientists.
Meanwhile, we prepare for the meeting coming up, and encourage all citizens to email, write and/or call each member
of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting.
Contact information is here: Alert

Thursday, January 27, 2005

E-Voting Bill to be ready Feb 3 Joint Select Committee Final Report

There will be a meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems
on Thursday, February 3, 2005, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 414 of the Legislative Office Building.

They will issue a final report and have a bill ready for introduction to the General Assembly.
It probably will have to go through a series of committes, we will follow it closely.

They are expected to sign off on the final language and present a report.

My concern is that somehow last minute changes will be made that would reduce the impact of the bill.

This legislation will likely go through a series of committees, so anything can happen, will probably be watered down by compromise.

You can still emphasize to the JSC the need to keep each or some of these proposals based on what your preference is:

Basic proposals agreed upon by the commitee:

1. Voter verified paper ballots as the official record in case of audit or recount.
*This is the most important, the reason this group was formed. Gerry Cohen described this as the back-end protection of our votes.
(some committee members such as Mr. Cordle saw no need for this, but did not oppose it)

2. Allow state officials and political parties to review the computer source code for electronic machines to evaluate their security. (Gerry Cohen described this as the "front-end" protection of our votes.)
* David Allen also asked that the bill also require the code for all electronic ballots be reviewed. - (Believe it or not, one committee member stated that open source code was not necessary at all, in his opinion)

3. Audits by random sampling. I was not sure by the end of the meeting as to how they were going to determine the criteria. It sounded as if there would be manditory audits, but not necessarily of all contests or all precinct.

Allow elections boards to allow known voters whose ballots are lost to cast new votes within two weeks after the election. In Carteret County, officials know who the displaced voters are because they participated in early voting.

Clause that would order the State Board of Elections to create a code of ethics for itself and county elections boards, to address proper relationships between board workers and vendors with whom they do business, and "how to avoid both the reality and the appearance of conflicts of interest and impropriety."

- A bit dog barks:
State board member Bob Cordle, a committee member, complained that requiring such a code would imply improper behavior where none had occurred. But other committee members said it would be useful to have such guidelines in place. The matter is to be given final consideration next week.

Other proposals approved by the committee that address administrative functions:
-- Allow state and local public employees to take 24 hours of "community service leave" per year to work as precinct officials or in early voting sites.
-- Authorize boards of elections in counties that use optically scanned ballots to begin tabulating absentee ballots before election day, provided that the results are not released until election day.
-- Authorize the State Board of Elections to conduct a trial program in 10 counties to allow one-stop voting to continue through Election Day, instead of ending several days before.

http://tinyurl.com/7283h

Possible concerns: that somehow the committee would make last minute changes that would seriously affect the strength of the bill for whatever reason.

Contact info for committee members is here: http://www.ncvoter.net/alerts.html
Remind them that you want VVPB! Tell them what you think.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Jan 21 § 163-165. Definitions as rewritten, ballot, voting system, instant runoff etc

Note: what I don't like is that this leave the door open to paperless voting, in that it
allows the digital vote on DREs to be considered the "ballot". If paper printers were added to DREs, then would the paper ballot be the official record or not?

Note: does specify that if machine produces electronic vote and paper ballot, the paper ballot is the official record of the vote. I like that.

Note: also good - recognizes the term "voting system" rather than using the word voting machine over and over. Not everyone has to vote on a machine, and it should not be the only choice for counties.

SECTION 4. G.S. 163-165 reads as rewritten:
§ 163-165.
Definitions.

In addition to the definitions stated below, the definitions set forth in Article 15A of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes also apply to this Article. As used in this Article:

(1) "Ballot" means an instrument on which a voter indicates a choice so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term "ballot" may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image a vote recorded electronically on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.

(2) "Ballot item" means a single item on a ballot in which the voters are to choose between or among the candidates or proposals listed.

(3) "Ballot style" means the version of a ballot within a jurisdiction that an individual voter is eligible to vote. For example, in a county that uses essentially the same official ballot, a group office such as county commissioner may be divided into districts so that different voters in the same county vote for commissioner in different districts. The different versions of the county's official ballot containing only those district ballot items one individual voter may vote are the county's different ballot styles.

(4) "Election" means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.

(4a) 'Instant runoff voting' means a method that allows voters to designate their first, second, and perhaps subsequent choices among the candidates and, if a count of the first choices does not yield a majority or substantial plurality for one candidate, a count of second and perhaps subsequent choices is conducted, eliminating the need for a second primary or runoff election.

(5) "Official ballot" means a ballot that has been certified by the State Board of Elections and produced by or with the approval of the county board of elections. The term does not include a sample ballot or a specimen ballot.

Where a voting system produces a paper ballot in addition to an electronic ballot, the paper ballot prevails in the case of a conflict.

(6) "Provisional official ballot" means an official ballot that is voted and then placed in an envelope that contains an affidavit signed by the voter certifying identity and eligibility to vote.

(7) "Referendum" means the event in which voters cast votes for or against ballot questions other than the election of candidates to office.

(8) "Voting booth" means the private space in which a voter is to mark an official ballot.

(9) "Voting enclosure" means the room within the voting place that is used for voting.

(10) "Voting place" means the building that contains the voting enclosure.

(11) "Voting system" means a system of casting and tabulating ballots. The term includes systems of paper ballots counted by hand as well as systems utilizing mechanical and electronic voting equipment. A 'direct record electronic voting system' is one in which the voter casts votes and the votes are recorded electronically. An 'optical scan voting system' is one in which the voter marks a paper ballot and that ballot is read and counted by a tabulator.'

Jan 21 "§ 163-165.9. Voting systems: powers and duties of county board of elections.

What is lacking here is the requirement that the vendor or their employees have never bribed an election official, nor committed crimes such as embezzlement or wire fraud.
See NC Voter's page on bribery to understand why this is a concern. Link

SECTION 3. G.S. 163-165.9 reads as rewritten:

"§ 163-165.9. Voting systems: powers and duties of county board of elections.

Before approving the adoption and purchase or lease of any voting system by the board of county commissioners, the county board of elections shall do all of the following:

(1) Obtain a current financial statement from the proposed vendor or lessor of the voting system and send copies of the statement to the county attorney and the chief county financial officer.Recommend to the board of county commissioners which type of voting system should be acquired by the county.

(2) Witness a demonstration, in that county or at a site designated by the State Board of Elections, of the type of voting system to be recommended by the proposed vendor or lessor and also witness a demonstration of at least one other type of voting system approved certified by the State Board of Elections.

(3) Test, during an election, the proposed voting system in at least one precinct in the county where the voting system would be used if adopted."

Jan 21st "§ 163-165.8. Voting systems: powers and duties of board of county commissioners.

My opinion - this leaves door open for counties to return to hand counted paper ballots if they are not already using them. I hope so.

G.S. 163-165.8 reads as rewritten:

"§ 163-165.8. Voting systems: powers and duties of board of county commissioners.

The board of county commissioners, with the approval of the county board of elections, may adopt and purchase or lease only a voting system of a type, make, and model approved certified by the State Board of Elections for use in some or all voting places in the county at some or all elections.

The board of county commissioners may decline to adopt and purchase or lease any voting system recommended by the county board of elections but may not adopt and purchase or lease any voting system that has not been approved by the county board of elections.

Article 8 of Chapter 143 does not apply to county of boards of commissioners purchasing voting systems certified by the State Board of Elections."

Jan 21st G.S. 163.165.7 Act to Centralize Purchasing Authority of Voting Systems

Note: There are two versions of 163-165.7, one is effective until Jan 1 2006, the other one takes effect on Jan 1 2006. Both are listed here.

Note: Will this mean that Gary Bartlett, board member of the shady organization,
"The Election Center" (a non-profit that accepts large donations from voting machine companies) will be picking the next voting machines?

Has Mr. Bartlett done such a good job in his 12 + years so far?

"§ 163-165.7. (Effective until January 1, 2006) Voting systems: powers and duties of State Board of Elections.

(a) Certification of voting systems.The State Board of Elections shall have authority to approve types, makes, and models of voting systems for use in elections and referenda held in this State.

Only voting systems that have been approved certified by the State Board of Elections shall be used to conduct elections under this Chapter, and the approved certified voting systems shall be valid in any election or referendum held in any county or municipality.

The State Board may, upon request of a local board of elections, authorize the use of a voting system not approved for general use.

The use of paper ballots counted by hand is a certified voting system.

The State Board shall certify additional voting systems through the use of a request for proposal process. In consultation with the Office of Information Technology Services, the State Board of Elections shall develop the requests for proposal subject to the provisions of this Chapter and other applicable State laws.

The request for proposal shall comply with all of the following:

(1) Require the vendor to post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects in the voting system and supply copies of the most recent financial statements.

(2) Compliance with all federal requirements for voting systems.

(3) Capacity to accommodate instant runoff voting.

(4) Capacity to include in precinct returns the votes cast by voters outside of the voter's precinct.

(5) For all voting systems utilizing electronic means, accessibility to review all source codes by the State Board of Elections; the Office of Information Technology Services; the state chairs, or one designee of each chair, of the three political parties with the largest numbers of registered voters in the State; and the purchasing county board of elections.

(6) Capacity to provide each voter with a paper record of the ballot the voter cast.

(7) Require the vendor to state a cost for the equipment that would be charged to all counties in North Carolina.

(b) Decertification of voting systems. The State Board may also, upon notice and hearing, disapprove types, makes, and models of voting systems.
Upon disapproving a type, make, or model of voting system, the State Board shall determine the process by which the disapproved system is discontinued in any county.

If a county makes a showing that discontinuance would impose a financial hardship upon it, the county shall be given up to four years from the time of State Board disapproval to replace the system.
A county may appeal a decision by the State Board concerning discontinuance of a voting system to the superior court in that county or to the Superior Court of Wake County.

The county has 30 days from the time of the State Board's decision on discontinuance to make that appeal.

(c) Training and support of voting systems. Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, the State Board of Elections shall provide training and support for the certified voting systems and shall prescribe rules for the adoption, handling, operation, and honest use of certified voting systems, including, but not limited to, including the following:

(1) Procedures for county boards of elections to utilize when recommending the purchase of a Types, makes, and models of certified voting systems approved system for use in this Statethat county.

(2) Form of official ballot labels to be used on voting systems.

(3) Operation and manner of voting on voting systems.

(4) Instruction of precinct officials in the use of voting systems.

(5) Instruction of voters in the use of voting systems.

(6) Assistance to voters using voting systems.

(7) Duties of custodians of voting systems.

(8) Examination of voting systems before and after use in an election.
[APA exemption?]
__________________________________________________


§ 163-165.7. (Effective January 1, 2006) Voting systems: powers and duties of State Board of Elections.

(a) Certification of voting systems.The State Board of Elections shall have authority to approve types, makes, and models of voting systems for use in elections and referenda held in this State.

Only voting systems that have been approved certified by the State Board shall be used to conduct elections under this Chapter, and the approved certified voting systems shall be valid in any election or referendum held in any county or municipality.

The use of paper ballots counted by hand is a certified voting system. The State Board shall certify additional voting systems through the use of a request for proposal process.

The State Board may use guidelines, information, testing reports, certification, decertification, recertification, and any relevant data produced by the Election Assistance Commission, its Standards Board, its Board of Advisors, or the Technical Guidelines Development Committee as established in Title II of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 with regard to any action or investigation the State Board may take concerning a voting system.

The State Board may use, for the purposes of voting system certification, laboratories accredited by the Election Assistance Commission under the provisions of section 231(2) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

In consultation with the Office of Information Technology Services, the State Board of Elections shall develop the requests for proposal subject to the provisions of this Chapter and other applicable State laws.

The request for proposal shall comply with all of the following:
(1) The vendor must post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects in the voting system.
(2) Compliance with all federal requirements for voting systems.
(3) Capacity to accommodate instant runoff voting.
(4) Capacity to include in precinct returns the votes cast by voters outside of the voter's precinct.
(5) For all voting systems utilizing electronic means, accessibility to review all source codes by the State Board of Elections; the Office of Information Technology Services; the state chairs, or one designee of each chair, of the three political parties with the largest numbers of registered voters in the State; and the purchasing county board of elections.
(6) Capacity to provide each voter with a paper record of the ballot the voter cast. That paper record must be such that it can be preserved for later use such as in counting.
(7) Require the vendor to state a cost for the equipment that would be charged to all counties in North Carolina.
The State Board may, upon request of a local board of elections, authorize the use of a voting system not approved for general use.
(b) The State Board may also, upon notice and hearing, disapprove types, makes, and models of voting systems. Upon disapproving a type, make, or model of voting system, the State Board shall determine the process by which the disapproved system is discontinued in any county. If a county makes a showing that discontinuance would impose a financial hardship upon it, the county shall be given up to four years from the time of State Board disapproval to replace the system. A county may appeal a decision by the State Board concerning discontinuance of a voting system to the superior court in that county or to the Superior Court of Wake County. The county has 30 days from the time of the State Board's decision on discontinuance to make that appeal.
(c) Training and support of voting systems. Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, the State Board of Elections shall provide training and support for the certified voting systems and shall prescribe rules for the adoption, handling, operation, and honest use of voting systems, including, but not limited to,including the following:
(1) Procedures for county boards of elections to utilize when recommending the purchase of a Types, makes, and models of certified voting systems approved system for use in this Statethat county.
(2) Form of official ballot labels to be used on voting systems.
(3) Operation and manner of voting on voting systems.
(4) Instruction of precinct officials in the use of voting systems.
(5) Instruction of voters in the use of voting systems.
(6) Assistance to voters using voting systems.
(7) Duties of custodians of voting systems.
(8) Examination of voting systems before and after use in an election.
(9) Compliance with section 301 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002."
[APA exemption?]


Jan 21st AN ACT providing leave to public employees for working as precinct officials.

"§126-8.5. Poll worker leave.
Every employee of the State, or of a city, county, school administrative unit, community college, constituent institution of The University of North Carolina, or other political subdivision or public corporation of the State is entitled to up to 24 hours per year of community service leave to serve as a precinct official or as a temporary employee of a county board of elections in a voting site, including a one-stop site as provided in G.S. 163-227.2.

As used in this section, 'community service leave' for an employee means absence with full pay in addition to any vacation leave or sick leave to which the employee is already entitled.

This section does not entitle an employee to additional community service leave in addition to leave that employee received for the equivalent election service under an equivalent program of the employer."
SECTION 2. G.S. 126-5 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:
"(c9) G.S. 126-8.5 applies to all public employees."
SECTION 3. This act is effective when it becomes law.

Jan 21 earlier counting of absentee ballots"§ 163-234. Counting absentee ballots by county board of elections.

"§ 163-234. Counting absentee ballots by county board of elections.
All absentee ballots returned to the county board of elections in the container-return envelopes shall be retained by the board to be counted by the county board of elections as herein provided.

(1) Only those absentee ballots returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before election day in a properly executed container-return envelope shall be counted, except to the extent federal law requires otherwise.

(2) The county board of elections shall meet at 5:00 p.m. on election day in the board office or other public location in the county courthouse for the purpose of counting all absentee ballots except those which have been challenged before 5:00 p.m. on election day. Any elector of the county shall be permitted to attend the meeting and allowed to observe the counting process, provided the elector shall not in any manner interfere with the election officials in the discharge of their duties.

Provided, that the county board of elections is authorized to begin counting absentee ballots between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. upon the adoption of a resolution at least two weeks prior to the election wherein the hour and place of counting absentee ballots shall be stated. A copy of the resolutions shall be published once a week for two weeks prior to the election, in a newspaper having general circulation in the county. Notice may additionally be made on a radio or television station or both, but such notice shall be in addition to the newspaper and other required notice. The count shall be continuous until completed and the members shall not separate or leave the counting place except for unavoidable necessity, except that if the count has been completed prior to the time the polls close, it shall be suspended until that time pending receipt of any additional ballots, and except that one-stop ballots under G.S. 163-227.2 counted electronically shall not be counted until the polls close; provided, however, that if there are outstack ballots in the counting device, they may be counted at the same time as other ballots are counted under this subdivision. The county board of elections may begin putting them in the tabulator at the same time as other ballots are counted under this subdivision if the system for counting one-stop ballots requires them to be put in a tabulator but the process has the voter place them in a ballot box. The board shall not announce the result of the count before 7:30 p.m.

(2a) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (2) of this section, a county board of elections may, at each meeting at which it approves absentee ballot applications pursuant to G.S. 163-230.1(c) and (c1), remove those ballots from their envelopes and have them read by an optical scanning machine, without printing the totals on the scanner. The board shall complete the counting of these ballots at the times provided in subdivision (2) of this section. The State Board of Elections shall provide instructions to county boards of elections for executing this procedure, and the instructions shall be designed to ensure the accuracy of the count, the participation of board members of both parties, and the secrecy of the results before election day.This subdivision applies only in counties that use optical scan devices to county absentee ballots.

(3) The counting of absentee ballots shall not commence until a majority and at least one board member of each political party represented on the board is present and that fact is publicly declared and entered in the official minutes of the county board.

(4) The county board of elections may employ such assistants as deemed necessary to count the absentee ballots, but each board member present shall be responsible for and observe and supervise the opening and tallying of the ballots.

(5) As each ballot envelope is opened, the board shall cause to be entered into a pollbook designated "Pollbook of Absentee Voters" the name of the absentee voter, or if the pollbook is computer-generated, the board shall check off the name. Preserving secrecy, the ballots shall be placed in the appropriate ballot boxes, at least one of which shall be provided for each type of ballot. The "Pollbook of Absentee Voters" shall also contain the names of all persons who voted under G.S. 163-227.2, but those names may be printed by computer for inclusion in the pollbook.

After all ballots have been placed in the boxes, the counting process shall begin.
If one-stop ballots under G.S. 163-227.2 are counted electronically, that count shall commence at the time the polls close. If one-stop ballots are paper ballots counted manually, that count shall commence at the same time as other absentee ballots are counted.
If a challenge transmitted to the board on canvass day by a chief judge is sustained, the ballots challenged and sustained shall be withdrawn from the appropriate boxes, as provided in G.S. 163-89(e).

As soon as the absentee ballots have been counted and the names of the absentee voters entered in the pollbook as required herein, the board members and assistants employed to count the absentee ballots shall each sign the pollbook immediately beneath the last absentee voter's name entered therein. The county board of elections shall be responsible for the safekeeping of the pollbook of absentee voters.

(6) Upon completion of the counting process the board members shall cause the results of the tally to be entered on the absentee abstract prescribed by the State Board of Elections. The abstract shall be signed by the members of the board in attendance and the original mailed immediately to the State Board of Elections. The county board of elections may have a separate count on the abstract for one-stop absentee ballots under G.S. 163-227.2.

(7) One copy of the absentee abstract shall be retained by the county board of elections and the totals appearing thereon shall be added to the final totals of all votes cast in the county for each office as determined on the official canvass.

(8) In the event a political party does not have a member of the county board of elections present at the meeting to count absentee ballots due to illness or other cause of the member, the counting shall not commence until the county party chairman of said absent member, or a member of the party's county executive committee, is in attendance. Such person shall act as an official witness to the counting and shall sign the absentee ballot abstract as an "observer."

(9) The county board of elections shall retain all container-return envelopes and absentee ballots, in a safe place, for at least four months, and longer if any contest is pending concerning the validity of any ballot."

Jan 21st: "§ 163-182.12. Authority of State Board of Elections over protests.

"§ 163-182.12. Authority of State Board of Elections over protests.
The State Board of Elections may consider protests that were not filed in compliance with G.S. 163-182.9, may initiate and consider complaints on its own motion, may intervene and take jurisdiction over protests pending before a county board, and may take any other action necessary to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption.

Where a known group of voters cast votes that were lost beyond retrieval, the State Board of Elections may authorize a county board of elections to allow those voters to recast their ballots during a period of two weeks after the election.

If the State Board approves a recasting of votes under this section, any procedures the county board uses to contact those voters and allow them to recast their votes shall be subject to approval by the State Board.

Those recast votes shall be added to the returns and included in the canvass. The recasting of those votes shall not be deemed a new election for purposes of G.S. 163-182.13."
SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.

Jan 21 E-Voting Committee Agenda & Overview of Legislation

Unless the meeting is called off tomorrow, these bills are going to be discussed
by the North Carolina Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting.
**Contact information for the committee members, directions, etc.

My analysis of the legislation being proposed at the Jan 21st meeting.

The new legislation will cover powers of State Board of Elections, Statutes to allow re-vote, definition of voting systems, counting of absentee ballots prior to election day, and require that all voting systems permit all voters to verify their votes on a paper ballot; and more - has some trojan horses in it***

Jan 21st: "§ 163-182.12. Authority of State Board of Elections over protests *this looks like Gary Bartlett's idea, he hoped that this would cover the issue of future Carteret Counties, and still retain the convenience to election officials of not knowing about the other lost votes. I am not sure how the committee will receive. Paper ballots would eliminate the need for this "law". Link: http://tinyurl.com/6vv4h

Jan 21 earlier counting of absentee ballots
"§ 163-234. Counting absentee ballots by county board of elections.

*IMHO the BOE needs more time to correct errors or address issue of votes lost by electronic voting. Hence, would like to count absentee votes before election day. (this is how they caught the Wake County lost votes, which they lived down more easily) **Again, Voter Verified Paper Ballots would eliminate the mad scamble to try to re-call voters back to the polls.
Link: http://tinyurl.com/67anb

Jan 21st AN ACT providing leave to public employees for working as precinct officials. Link: http://tinyurl.com/57gfe

Jan 21st G.S. 163.165.7 Act to Centralize Purchasing Authority of Voting Systems.
*SBOE approves voting systems is not entirely new. Somewhere in here is probably something that says the BOE narrows down the playing field. Scares me to think Bartlett will still pick our voting systems, sounds like there will be some professional consultation, but still, Bartlett's history speaks for itself.
Considers hand counted paper ballots a certified voting system.
(Good to get that out in the open!)

The SBOE will consult with the Office of Information Technology Services, to develop the requests for proposal subject to the provisions of this Chapter and other applicable State laws.
The request for proposal shall comply with all of the following:

TROJAN HORSE**Capacity to accommodate instant runoff voting**
Bartlett will use this to try to force DREs on us.
So far only San Francisco has used IRV,
took several weeks to get the results,
computers did not tally the first 2 or 3 choices correctly.

ES&S optical scans were used in the IRV in San Francisco, although the Green Party insisted that DREs be used. ( This per Dr. David Dill of Stanford U.)THIS IS A TROJAN HORSE, does anyone see this as helping to encourage the use of hand counted paper ballots?

(In my county, the Election Director insisted she had to use DREs for early voting, because the ballots were so complex. I can see the pressure for DREs building up)I am not against IRV if done with hand counted paper ballots. See my page on IRV here
Advocates of IRV and hand counted paper ballots, you should start developing your systems and getting them ready for market NOW.

Link for rest of text to legislation for centralizing voting systems
here: http://tinyurl.com/54a5y

Jan 21st "§ 163-165.8. Voting systems: powers and duties of board of county commissioners. http://tinyurl.com/5xlq5

Jan 21 "§ 163-165.9. Voting systems: powers and duties of county board of elections. http://tinyurl.com/3l29m

Jan 21 § 163-165. Definitions as rewritten, ballot, voting system, instant runoff etc. http://tinyurl.com/6o6c9

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Agenda of upcoming 1-14-05 E-Voting Committee Mtg

There will be a meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems on Friday, January 14, 2005, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 414 of the Legislative Office Building.

No information at this time as to whether there will be audio stream of meeting.

Topics for discussion by committee at 1-14-05 meeting

Members of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems:

The co-chairs would like for the Committee to devote the next meeting, Jan. 14, 2005, to discussing and working out potential recommendations to the 2005 General Assembly.
The attached outline is designed as an aid to the decision-making process. It outlines 5 broad areas:

1. Statutory Requirements for Voting Systems
2. How to phase in any requirement adopted under 1.
3. Relationship of State and County With Regard to Voting Systems
4. Recounts
5. Related Issues

Committee website

Jan 7 2005 E-Voting Meeting, Joyce McCloy notes

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri basically smashed the private voting systems to bits, said that the only electronic system that is even partially acceptable is the optically scanned ballot. Dr. Mercuri's website here

**Her key suggestion: North Carolina should ask for a further HAVA extension.
If NC and other states together made such a request, it might be possible to get one.
Otherwise, require open source code and a voter verified paper ballot.

Doug Chapin (an attorney) website gave a history of voting problems etc.
(Note: ElectionLine has Doug Lewis of the ethically challenged "Election Center" listed as an advisory consultant) See http://www.ncvoter.net/ElectionCenter.html to find out more about the donations from voting machine vendors to The Election Center.

Chapin questions whether voters want to verify their votes:
Mr. Chapin seemed to make light of the phrase "voter-verified" paper ballots, setting off Dr. Mercuri and prompting a sort of debate (although debate not allowed in committee meetings).

Mr. Chapin said that there is no guarantee that the voter is verifying their vote, so that the value of "voter verified paper-ballots" is diminished by that. Therefore, he advised that the more appropriate term is "verifiable". He made the comment that many voters did not verify their vote at all, so that they should really be described as verifiable, meaning that the voter had the opportunity to verify the vote, but might choose not to do so.

Nevada VVPB similar to roll of toilet paper!
Mr. Chapin also stated that many Nevada citizens did not verify the VVPB on the Sequoia DRES, making the VVPB in-effective. (Note: I have seen the DREs that Nevada had fitted to print a "voter-verified paper ballot". Probably alot of them weren't verified, at least not by the bifocal group).

The "ballot" is actually printed on a small continuous roll of paper, much like the journal tape on a cash register. Not much of the ballot shows up on the part facing the voter. It rolls around a spool, and is not that big. Put into perspective - kinda like reading your vote on a half used roll of toilet paper, and under glass. A horrible system)

Dr. Mercuri states that a Voter Verified Paper Ballot is a legal distinction, the paper ballot is a legal document that can be used in a court of law.
Dr. Mercuri cleared that up and stated that voters make the decision to verify their votes when they make the "vote" selection on the machine or device.(I think that of electronic voting systems, we could be sure that the voter verifies their ballots when casting them if they mark an optically scanned ballot. That is the first thing they do, is verify it, whereas if a DRE prints a ballot, they cast their vote first, then verify it... and of course the darned computer counts it)

Chapin suggests study to see if voters want to verify their ballots?
Another prickly point of contention by Mr. Chapin: he stated that although some activists groups might be calling for voter verified paper ballots, the overall public might not demand them. He suggested having a study done to see if voters wanted to verify their votes.

(Mr. Chapin, how about surveying the citizens of Carteret County that had their votes lost? Or those in Wake County in 2002 that had their votes eaten by the computer? Or the 4,000 in Burke County who went to the polls this year but didn't cast a vote for President?)

David Allen says that of course voters want to verify their ballots.
At this point, David Allen advised that he was sure that the voters wanted their votes verified and counted.

Your emails to the committee do count.
Senator Kinnaird also advised Mr. Chapin that she had received a large amount of emails from citizens that wanted voter verified paper ballots. Lots.

(Your emails do count! Keep sending them, ask your friends to send them too. Go to
http://www.ncvoter.net/alerts.html)

Chuck Herrin shows how easy it is to change the votes without leaving any evidence.
Chuck Herrin's presentation: "recent PowerPoint given to the NC Joint Select Subcommittee on E-Voting, January 7th, 2005. The first part talks about what we do in business vs. what we do in e-voting, and the second part rips apart Diebold's vote tabulation software, showing it for the criminal piece of crap that it is." from Chuck's website.
(News update: Jan 12 news report that GASTONIA - Water from a malfunctioning toilet may have destroyed 100 of Gaston County's 339 voting machines, causing about $500,000 damage over the weekend. This county uses the Diebold system that Chuck demonstrated on the 7th. Approx 14,000 votes were not reported by Gaston County until about a week after the election when the SBOE noticed the low voter turnout Link )

Vote Counting Tabulator phones home office!
Chuck Herrin got to show us how easily someone could get into the central tabulator, and that Diebold GEMS systems actually phone the home office on their own
(Chuck did I get that right?).

He also showed us that you can make all kinds of changes to the voting data and there is no record of it being done. There is a log that shows someone has done something at such and such time, but not what the action was. Even the event log can be erased or changed.
So, at least with the Diebold Tabulator, knowing the password is not essential, and by all means, don't worry about leaving a trail behind while you change the vote totals.
Chuck succeeded in getting across the point that central tabulators are a wide open barn door. Chuck unequivocally stated that the only voting system that he trusted was hand counted paper ballots.

Unfortunately George Gilbert, Director of Guilford County Elections did not appear for the promised questions and answer period. Maybe later. I want to ask him why, if he is such an expert on "state of the art technology", didn't he know that his central tabulator subtracts votes after it gets to 32,767? See computer scientist Joseph Lorenzo Hall's blog on this screw-up here

(Maybe George will show up next week).

Bartlett still misses point, suggests changes in laws as remedy, not paper ballots on voting systems.
Gary Bartlett got up and spoke, wanted have law amended to allow voters whose votes were lost (known to be lost) to get to re-vote (i.e Carteret County). Also wants to allow provisional votes to be counted whether cast in voters precinct or not. And he wants to increase the number of early voting sites. And Gary has the just the voting machines for the purposes of the second and third statement.***

I am surprised he didn't open his suit jacket and have bunches of ES&S, Microvote and Sequoia brochures just tumble out all over the floor****

Finally, Gary suggested his idea of a remedy for protecting our votes is yet another computer, that would store the votes already supposedly cast on the other DREs, and that the data on this computer could be used for the voter to verify their vote on. Lovely, another computer, but alas, it is in the prototype phase.

Note to Gary Bartlett: no more magic tricks please, get rid of the smoke and mirrors, we want to verify our votes. If this committee draws up legislation to change our election systems, we must hope that it is worded so that Bartlett cannot add another barrier to the voter being able to verify a paper ballot of their vote. Mr. Bartlett is clearly still getting his advice from"The Election Center" and/or the voting machine vendors. Why he wants to make our elections digital is very curious to me.

NC has lost votes before.
One would think that after losing so many votes on DREs, that Bartlett would wake up.
It is not like Carteret County is the first NC County to lose votes. (See NC Voter 1998 to 2003 news
Gary Bartlett stated that he has been Exec. Director of the NC BOE for over a decade, 12 or more years. And look at the great voting systems he has helped our state to get. Mr. Bartlett has also been able to squeeze in the time to serve on the Board of Directors of "The Election Center", the ethically challenged organization referred to earlier.

Several NC Verified were there, as well as other activists. I am hoping that each person that attended will have time to record some of their comments that they made to the committee on this message board.
Michael Morgan got his comment in at the end, because Mr. Bartlett made a remark about the expense to the state to make machines produce a paper ballot, and Michael compared that the the wasted expense of holding a new election for one contest because of one county.

**puts it into perspective. Andrew asked why Bartlett wouldn't certify Accupoll, and how many voting systems in NC were certified beyond 1990 standards.I asked about the 3 counties that have hand counted paper ballots,Graham, Hyde and Tyrell.

I asked if Graham County had tried electronic voting in 2000 and returned to hand counting paper ballots in 2004. Answer - yes.Also, didn't these counties get their votes tallied in time?Most of our questions weren't answered, at this time.

The meeting didn't really end until between 2 and 3. Some of us stayed later to meet other attendees and discuss testimony etc. I got to shake Dr. Mercuri's hand, something I never dreamed would happen in this life time. In another week, NC Verified Voting will be 1 year old. If anyone has something to write about the meeting, please please post it. We would love to read your comments.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Dec 20 - NC E-Voting Committee Mtg Part I

The Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems met for the second time on December 20, 2004.
The Charlotte Observer did a story described the meeting and also included an interview with North Carolina computer scientist, Justin Moore, Member of the National Committee for Voting Integrity:

The meeting was held in two parts:
the first part officials were called to go over more e-voting problems and hear public comments; the second part was to view and describe current and possible voting equipment.

Additional details on problems with Onslo, Gaston, and Harnett were provided.

Onslo County Vote tabulating problems. Onslo's problem was within the reporting of the accumulated results at the county level. The order of the candidates as programmed into the ballot was not compatible with the election reporting software that compiles the county totals. Story

Gaston County administrative problems emphasized, mention of voting system failure minimized. Don Wright, General Counsel for the State Board of Elections summed up Gaston County's problems as administrative failure.

In spite of news reports that Diebold technicians uploaded the county's precinct totals un-supervised link , Mr. Wright stated that Election officials and Diebold representatives have since signed affadavits that Diebold operated under direct supervision of the Gaston County Board of Elections.

Last week, in the Dec 13th meeting, computer scientist Justin Moore described how the Diebold systems failed to upload precinct totals, and to recognize the failure as well. If the poll workers did attempt to upload the data, any malfunction should have been visible to the workers, whether they were the Diebold employees or the actual election workers.

Gaston County voter turnout still not known. Mr. Wright also advised that: neither the contractors or the County BOE noticed the difference in the number of people voting (noted in the poll books) and the number of votes. He cited sloppy poll workers for some of that problem. He said that they did not keep an accurate count of the voters.

Committee Member David Allen (systems engineer and BBV activist) asked
why would a contractor would be involved in something as critical as something of this level of importance. (uploading precint totals on election day).

Mr. Wright answered that all counties use contractors (troubling), but that while it was understandable for Gaston County's BOE to need alot of vendor support initially, that Gaston never developed any self-sufficiency, and never had IT people in-house.

*Note - many election directors farm out the programming of the ballots used in the e-voting machines. Then, when mistakes are made - it is categorized as a glitch, and state law holds no one accountable. On the other hand, some election directors use in-house programming, and that may or may not work so well. With the first you have lack of accountability, with the second you may have someone who is not practiced at this sort of thing.

More troubling is Mr. Wright's observation that (with electronic voting) "you can never separate yourself entirely from the vendor."

Harnett County Diebold Woes - or Testing 123, Testing 123...
Next, we have Cherie Tuller, Director of Harnett County Elections - describing her experiences with the Diebold AV Optical Scanners purchased in 1996.

She described problems with 16 of the county's machines failing in testing, being sent to the vendor in Texas, supposedly coming back repaired, and four of these machines failing during the runoff. Diebold supplied 4 loaners to fill in.

Next, for the General Election, 9 machines failed testing, and Diebold supplied 9 loaners.
Ms. Tuller described multiple problems with memory cards, so much that she purchased all new memory cards, 1 extra for each precinct. She attributed some problems to the aging of the equipment, mentioned deflector motor malfunctions. Biggest problem - equipment certified ok by vendor really isn't.
How expensive is e-voting, when equipment is outdated or worn out after 8 years?
Why are we buying equipment from vendors whose assurances are empty?
Imagine banks operating this way.

Groups invited to speak: 2 members of disabled community, League of Women Voters, and Democracy NC.

The 2 representatives of the disabled community had no objection to the use of voter verified paper ballots and open source code.

Representative from Advisory Counsel for Governor- Advocated having 1 system for all voters, opposes dual systems, wants 2-3 DREs at least in each precinct, in case 1 of the DREs broke down. She did not know the percentage of blind or disabled voters for our state.

Committee Member Warren Murphy (of Common Cause NC) asked if the rep opposed the use of Voter Verified Paper Ballots and open source code. She did not. Says ok if insured the integrity of vote, can verify via voice output.

David Allen pointed out that programming errors could cause incorrect audio feedback, but she seemed to be unfamiliar with such issues.

Next came Karen Clark, for the visually impaired. Wants accessible voting machines with multi-sensory features. She said that paper ballots are valid, computers aren't always reliable.

League of Women Voters thinks e-voting is efficient. Never heard of any problems.

Mary Klenz, Co-President of the North Carolina League of Women Voters stated that voting technology is efficient. She also said that there had never been any problems with the voting machines in Mecklenburg County. Ms. Klenz must not have read recent accounts of Meckelenburg's problems determining who were the winners and losers in the general election, news , problems during the primary - news, and apparently also was not familiar with Mecklenburg County's checkered past of bribery and purchase of defective machines - story. She also went on to compare e-voting to be other computerized functions, with the assumption that they were equal.

Ron Gregory, for the Election Boards Association of NC wondered why we would trust a paper ballot created by a voting system we did not trust.
*my comment: why vote on a system that is admittedly un-trustworthy at all?

Committee member John Esparza pointed out that we did not merely want to print paper ballots, but to perform a robust audit with hand counting of a percentage of the ballots.

The Guilford County Director of Elections, George Gilbert, spoke next. Gilbert is completely opposed to voter verified paper ballots. Fortunately the other election directors did not state such an opposition. Gilbert even purchased electronic poll books for Guilford County, yet removing another important part of the audit trail in
e-voting. link (scroll down page to Electronic Poll Books).

Broward County (Guilford), North Carolina. Guilford County suffers from ES&S vote subtraction, in the same way as Broward County, Florida. (Broward Cty Fla link )
( Guilford County NC link )

Guilford County off by 22,000 votes for the presidential contest.
The central tabulator (which totals all of the votes from the voting machines) began subtracting votes after counting up to 32,767. This happened because the tabulator had too little memory (80's technology) and also because some brilliant programmer set it up to subtract after 32,767.
NO voting software should EVER subtract votes.

Experts explain how ES&S election software subtracts votes here

I also question how this happened. Didn't Gilbert know the capacity of his software?
Did the vendor mislead him, or did he even ask?

Anyway, Gilbert seemed to be the lone ranger in opposition to Voter Verified Paper Ballots, going on and on about how voter verified paper ballots would create so much work for election workers, wasn't necessary, blah blah blah. He even came up with some bizarre numbers on how it would take weeks and weeks to hand count paper ballots.

Sorry, but I won't be asking him for voting machine advice after his snafu with his central tabulator.

Bob Hall, Director of Democracy NC, testified that his group endorsed voter verified paper ballots and transparency in elections. I don't have all of his words, and invite him to add or email them to me for better representation.

Again, the DRE counties had the worst of it for the General Election.

North Carolina had a warning in 2002 in Wake County, (ES&S iVotronic DREs)
when voting machines lost 436 votes during early voting, due to a software flaw. link

North Carolina had a kick in the gut in 2004 in Carteret County, (Unilect DREs)
when voting machines lost 4,532 votes ten times as many lost as in 2002. link

And we still don't know how many people actually voted in Gaston County,
so did voting machines lose votes there?

NC E-Voting Committee December 13th meeting

First Meeting of Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems, website:

The State Legislature appointed Electronic Voting Committee met for the first time on
December 13th, 2004. NC Voter Blog begins with this event.

N.C. Voter did not write this account. I will be happy to forward comments and compliments to the writer, who gave permission to use this account:

Remember the parable of the blind men and the elephant?
Today’s meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems would have reminded me of that, if not for the earnest and energetic efforts of a few of the committee’s members struggling to get their arms around this complicated issue.

This was the first meeting of the committee – convened at the request of the state Legislature. The committee’s membership seems quite balanced to my eye:
It includes state Senators and Representatives of both parties, two computer experts, state and county election board officials, a moderate GOP attorney, a Republican realtor, an Orange County commissioner, a Common Cause activist, and an “all-star” litigation attorney.

Here’s a brief story further describing the committee: story
And here’s a link to contact info and names for all the committee members: link

After introductory remarks by Sens. Ellie Kinnaird and Austin Allran, and Rep. Verla Insko and Ms Susan Adams, members of the committee made statements about their goals and expectations.
David Allen came out swinging by stating as plain fact that it is the private makers of election equipment who are in control of elections – not the citizens nor their representatives, and that the profit motive and public elections are simply incompatible. Go David!

Committee staffers gave reports on federal and state laws concerning voting equipment. This revealed that Congress has appropriated about $65.5 million to North Carolina for HAVA implementation. (The state legislature has kicked-in about $5.2 million.)
From Gary Bartlett, Executive Director of State Board of Elections (SBoE), we learned that SBoE has a plan for spending these funds (which Bartlett was quick to characterize as preliminary). The HAVA Implementation Plan is 60+ pages long, available here or here as a PDF: here:

His “myths debunked” are truly powerful ammunition in the fight against black-box voting. They are a must-read.

Perhaps the most important thing that happened during Justin’s talk regards the debate over open-source versus closed-source computer code. This is the question of whether or not our computerized voting machines should be proprietary black-boxes or if their design should be open to public review and scrutiny.

For those who are new to this debate, open-source software is essentially peer-reviewed, and as such, the resulting products are far more robust, stable, and secure than proprietary or closed-source software. (Here’s more info: http://open-vote.org/ )

Sen. Austin Allran (R, Hickory) started asking serious and bold questions about open-source computers. He asked the question, “can we pass a law forbidding closed-code software on DREs?” And he went on to say that if a DRE vendor didn’t care to offer an open-source product then they didn’t deserve North Carolina’s business. Wow! Exciting words from a ninth term, socially, fiscally, and politically conservative Republican.

Shortly after this, Justin Moore gave some concluding remarks, then officers from several county boards of elections gave brief reports on their trials and tribulations. These escaped my note-taking because I was engaged in conversation with Mr Ed Pond.The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting set for the same place and same time, next Monday. That’s December 20th, at 10:00 am in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building. Map & directions: