Wednesday, January 12, 2005

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.

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