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.

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:
Remind them that you want VVPB! Tell them what you think.


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