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.