READER COMMENTS ON
"MORE THAN 35 ELECTION INTEGRITY ORGS ISSUE OPEN LETTER DEMANDING 'A PAPER BALLOT FOR EVERY VOTE CAST'"
(21 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 4:00 pm PT...
If we are to preserve the remnants of this democracy, this absolutely MUST happen for the 08 elections! Everyone needs to press their representatives to have this accomplished. As well, the people who were sold a bogus bill of goods about the security and safety of our vote on these DRE's need to get a full and total "refund" for this faulty hardware & software from Diebold, E S & S, and Sequoia immediately. They warranteed these intentionally vulnerable machines (how Orwellian?) time and again even when the citizens knew they were being hacked. This is heinous on the part of these corporations and a breach of warrantee. The people deserve to be refunded for these worthless machines which have aided and abetted the demise of our democracy with "stolen elections". The time is NOW; This change is absolutely critical to the future of this country. Act now!
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 4:17 pm PT...
Bravo, Brad, for assisting the process of collaborative demand for paper ballots. I truly am grateful for the efforts of everyone on this vitally-important matter.
In a previous post of mine a while ago, I had visited on the idea of the ideal design of a trustworthy paper ballot, but was disappointed in the lack of responses to this important topic, so I am revisiting this topic now.
I noticed that in the aforementioned demand for paper ballots, the counting of the ballots could be done either by hand or by scanning devices. Unless the scanning devices are proven to be free of programmed flaws that can distort/throw elections, I do not have any confidence in this method of counting the votes, so that leaves us with only the hand-counting as a most-reliable way/means of transparently counting the votes. As you all know, the counting of the votes is what REALLY counts, not the votes themselves.
So what about a paper ballot design that allows a single page per race, per issue being decided by the voters? All the pages would have the same unique identification number assigned to each page, along with, perhaps, a unique number/letter for each page of the paper ballot. I had suggested a duplicate for each page, but such an idea could lead to buying votes, which I can see, so scratch the duplicate-page idea.
A paper ballot design of separate pages for each race and each issue with each page with identical ID numbers, along with unique page numbers/letters might work, I would think, as described below.
After the voter is done voting, the voter would drop it in a safe, locked box. After the end of the election, the locked boxes could be opened in full view of election officials, reps from parties and citizens themselves and counted by separating the pages of the bound-together ballots and putting them into the respective boxes or piles of each race and each issue voted upon by the voters. The ballots of each race or each issue could be counted, then bundled into some sort of consistent number, like 100 each bundle, then bundled (each bundle would be dated, timed and signed by the counter(s) and observer(s); then the bundles can be counted, plus a final less-than-full-count bundle to get a precise number counted for the respective race or issue.
This single-page-per-race/issue design may be more transparent and count-worthy than the single-page, scannable ballot design, I think. Comments anyone?
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 4:47 pm PT...
I would like paper ballots that are designed to be either hand-marked, or marked with machine assistance (for handicapped). The same ballot should be able to be hand-tabulated, or machine-tabulated. And in practice they should be BOTH machine-tabulated and hand tabulated. That will give us the best protection against fraud.
Actual ballot handling and counting procedures should be standardized as well, but we must also be on guard against corrupt poll workers.
I'm not so excited about having many pages in the ballot. With one per race I think my ballot would have been 50 pages long. But there does need to be a better procedure to protect against situations where the ballot layout is misleading. More than one person from each party should have to approve it. Perhaps it should be required that it be published online prior to its use, in its actual layout.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 5:46 pm PT...
I've been going through some of the Lou Dobb's recordings I've made over the last year and I'm pretty sure he never mentioned the word "ballot" in his voting machine coverage. It's pretty sad that after all this time, so many in the media are acting like it's a four letter word their station could be fined for.
Just having a good solid ballot would be a deterrent to anyone trying to rig elections, but I still think we have to push for absolute transparency on the most important races. Local Judge's races don't need to be counted with eyes, but presidents and congresspeople do.
I signed the petition.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 6:12 pm PT...
In Dobbs' defense, they were working very closely with some Election Integrity groups who were regularly using the "paper record" and "paper trail" lingo, much to my dismay (and against my best efforts).
One of the big problems now will be undoing the "paper trail" and "paper record" business which has crept it's way into the lexicon as the "savior to our election woes".
So get busy.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 7:16 pm PT...
Reconciling Discrepancies: 2006 State Vote counts vs. Wikipedia votes/Generic Trend
The goal of this model is to determine the percentage of votes which needed to be switched from the Democrats to Republicans to match the 11/9 CBS News 52.7% Democratic vote share. This was far below both the pre-election 120 Generic poll trend and the Wikipedia 57.7% Democratic share. The model assumes that Wikipedia represents the TRUE national vote.
Based on historical statistics, approximately 3% of total votes cast are never counted. The majority (70-90%) of these votes are found in Democratic minority districts. It follows that approximately 75% of the uncounted votes are Democratic. The racial mix in each state is used in order to approximate the number of uncounted votes. The assumption is that 8% of non-white votes and 2% of white votes were not counted.
The base case analysis assumes that 7% of the recorded votes were switched. In order to match the Wikipedia vote share (57.7D-41.8%R), and assuming that 3.16% of total votes cast were uncounted, almost one in 12 (8.5%) Democratic votes must have been switched to the Republicans. The probability that the CBS 52.7% recorded Democratic vote would deviate by 5% from the Wikipedia count is 1 in 43 billion (see the sensitivity analysis table below).
Base Case Model Assumptions:
Switched: 7.00% Dem to Rep
Uncounted: 3.16% of total votes cast
Uncounted Vote Shares:
Race Share Reported Pct Unctd Total Pct Unctd
White 2.0% 62542 81.7% 1276 63819 80.7% 1.61%
Other 8.0% 14043 18.3% 1221 15264 19.3% 1.54%
Total 3.16% 76585 100% 2497 79082 100% 3.16%
Assuming a 7.0% switch rate, the Democratic TRUE vote was 56.94%.
Assuming an 8.5% rate, the TRUE vote was 57.7%, matching Wikipedia.
Base Case Summary-------------------------------------------------------------------------Switched TRUE Vote
Dem 75% 40331 52.66% 1873 42204 53.37% 2.45% 2823 45027 56.94%
Rep 23% 34564 45.13% 574 35138 44.43% 0.75% -2823 32315 40.86%
Other 2% 1690 2.21% 50 1740 2.20% 2.87% 0 1740 2.20%
Total 3.16% 76585 100.0% 2497 79082 100.0% 3.16% 0 79082 100.0%
U.S. House of Representatives Election Results
Party Seats........ Popular Vote
Dem 202 233 +31; 39,267,916 57.7% +11.1%
Rep 232 202 -30; 28,464,092 41.8% –7.4%
Indep 1 0 -1 69,707 0.1% 0.5%
Other 0 0 0 255,876 0.4% –3.2%
Total 435 435 0 68,057,591 100% 0
Special case: FL-13 (FL certified the Republican the winner, but this election is being disputed in court)
Probability of Discrepancy
Prob = NORMDIST(0.5266,0.5694,0.015/1.96,TRUE)
1 in 86,082,782
Sensitivity Analysis of Democratic TRUE Vote to Switched vote
Switch Dem% Prob:1 in
5.0% 56.17% 444,121
6.0% 56.43% 2,308,702 (matches 120 Generic poll trend)
6.5% 56.68% 13,359,311
7.0% 56.94% 86,082,782 (base case)
7.5% 57.19% 617,885,835
8.0% 57.45% 4,941,793,389
8.5% 57.70% 43,247,703,725 (matches Wikipedia vote count)
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 7:31 pm PT...
This is on blackboxvoting.org opednews.com and has been making the rounds of the web. Too funny!
David Dill Unplugged: Computer glitch leaves electronic voting machine advocate without a script
By Michael Richardson
It happened at Harvard. Stanford University computer scientist David Dill was at Harvard’s computer resource center talking about electronic voting machines. Dill, one of the nation’s foremost “paper trail” voting machine advocates, is the founder of a lobbying group called Verified Voting. About ten minutes into his Power Point presentation to the assembled Harvard intelligentsia, Dill’s laptop computer crashed leaving him without a script. The irony was unmistakable.
Dill then departed from his prepared remarks explaining, “I know so much I can’t organize a talk.” The next hour was devoted to a Q&A session that rambled in a self-contradictory trajectory revealing more about Dill than electronic voting machines.
Before the “glitch”, Professor Dill was in full reformer mode and sounded pretty good. Dill explained he had spent his two decades at Stanford, “trying to check software correctness, but it’s not something we can do.”
The three big “unsolvable” problems with electronic voting identified by Dill were error, security, and making sure the system is running what you think it is running. “We can’t prove correctness….We don’t know how to make systems secure….Why do we even trust the hardware?” Dill warned, “It is wrong to hand control of elections to private companies.”
Dill declared that any voting technology should be at least as trustworthy as hand-counted paper ballots, which he characterized as the “gold standard” for voting. We should “give up” on audits and instead “empower each voter to check their vote.”
“We have made a mistake by focusing on technology; instead we should focus on procedure.”
Then the questions started and Dill lost his way. After advocating for precinct optical scanners or printers on touch screen machines, Dill admitted that optical scanners do not always count the ballots correctly, “A careful hand-count is more accurate than optical scan.” Touch screen printers were open to “nefarious individuals that could cause the paper record to be unreliable.” Dill also admitted that self-deleting malicious code would not be detectable.
The Harvard computer experts in the audience got Dill to admit the push for electronic voting machines came from marketing by the vendors; that there were problems with machine certification standards leaving a “gaping hole”; that there was no way of testing for viruses; that the Election Assistance Commission is “highly politicized” and incapable of the tasks it is presented; and that, “What we have now are a bunch of bad voting systems.”
Dill acknowledged that “vote-flipping” happened all over the country in the 2006 election and that it is an “insidious” phenomenon without explanation. Dill said that 1% percent audits are “frighteningly bad” in anything but a statewide race and that an “over-qualified janitor at an electronic voting machine vendor could rig an election.”
After admitting that a “careful hand-count” is the most accurate and cheapest way to count votes and that optical scanners could be rigged and don’t always accurately record the ballot entries of voters, Dill then advocated precinct-based optical scanners as his solution to the problem of election fraud.
After his confusing, contradictory talk, Dill was asked about his support for H.B. 550, a “paper trail” electronic voting machine bill pending before Congress. “That is my public position, although the bill is being rewritten and I don’t know where I stand.”
[Permission granted to reprint]
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 12/14/2006 @ 10:27 pm PT...
NO NO NO! I can't believe you are allowing the possibility of OPTICAL SCANNERS to count the votes!
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??????????? Optical scanners are no more to be trusted than anything else!!! They TOO can be hacked. Did you learn NOTHING from Harri Hursti's hack???
PLEASE DELETE THE OPTICAL SCANNERS! HAND COUNTING ONLY!!!
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 3:32 am PT...
I should say that in my review of the Lou Dobb's segments, although, as Brad says, Lou never used the term "paper ballots" because he was being directed to say "trails", the show DID cover almost every notable problem with the machines and had almost every notable expert on the show. Most of the time, the experts were on for far less then a minute, but nonetheless, the coverage was very thorough.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 1:48 pm PT...
As we know, with electronic DRE machines the official record is unviewable inside a black box and we have no way of knowing it was recorded correctly.
So, a paper ballot official record seems crucial.
How that ballot receives the vote best is debatable, though punching holes which can result in 'hanging chads' seems unwise.
Counting the paper ballots by hand would seem best, though it seems to me that so long as the paper ballots are the official record and are not destroyed that we could also use optical scanners (or somesuch) to count votes, at least as a preliminary indicator of where the numbers stand. The hand-count should be the official record as we now only trust a human to do this. Isn't it odd our banking is still done with computers?
Another protection against criminal election fraud is to distribute the task widely, so it can't be centrally rigged. Also, posting precinct results to the web, so we can observe the counting process would make for better oversight. We don't need numbers mysteriously growing larger or smaller overnight when no new ballots have been counted.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 3:00 pm PT...
Requiring paper ballots is a good thing, but counting procedures must be standardized as well.
To help overcome precinct-local fraud/malfunction, some states have something like a "random 5% recount" procedure. Obviously this isn't good enough, especially if the random selection isn't made public. A better system of oversight might be to allow each political party to have a say in what precincts are recounted.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 5:05 pm PT...
A path is layed one stone at a time...
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 8:10 pm PT...
It does not matter if we have paper ballots if the counting is still done electronically by proprietary, secret systems!
Bruce O'Dell and others have established that we need an EXIT STRATEGY from machines. Period. He says that even a 10% audit of ALL precincts would not suffice!
Look--our election system was SET UP for hand counting! The precincts are SMALL on purpose so that this can be done!
HAND COUNTING ONLY!!!!
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 12/15/2006 @ 10:36 pm PT...
While I agree that a hand count should be the final number for any election, and I agree that the hand count can certainly be done in a matter of hours; I don't see the problem with doing a random recount of, say 10% of votes as an immediate check against scanner totals. If even one precinct didn't match the scanner total, the whole county should be recounted. This would give the media their cherished instant results (which is why they want computers anyway, right?), but allow a check for verification of the totals.
The trick would be insuring that the recount of the scanned ballots would be truly random. I'm sure a system could be devised and enforced.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 12/16/2006 @ 2:33 am PT...
In the little text box I put the following before I hit send.
Electronics, Digitized Data, and Networks do not belong in our elections.
This nonsense garbage coming from un-educated Secretary Of States and Whoever else that controls our elections has got to be stopped. Look, I am not a lawyer, I don't understand all the red tape that has to be cut to fix this problem. But this problem is a NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE, as well as a CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE. When you digitize a vote to binary it CAN NOT BE VALIDATED. This means that the vote can not be counted, if it can not be counted it doesn't exist, if it doesn't exist, then my constitutional right to vote has been denied. (Not like too many of you seem to uphold your OATH OF OFFICE to protect the CONSTITUTION anymore, but that's another argument) Right now, the problem is a Billionaire financed globalist, or a terrorist could control our elections because they are ELECTRONIC. Many can argue the theory behind electricity, but the fact is it can not be seen by the human eye. If it can not be seen by the human eye, then not even a GOD can see what happened to the vote that was cast. Let's also get into where the chips are being manufactured for electronic voting machines... CHINA?! come on. So we have Chinese chips in our electronic voting machines, that can not be validated, and these machines are being stored in insecure locations.
Look, I want to be frank with you, I have designed electronics, I have programmed software, there is NO electronic voting machine that can be locked down. You let me take an electronic voting machine home with me or to the trunk of my car and I can make the vote tabulation skewed. If you just pop the cover off, I can destroy the machine with my bare hands in ONE SECOND. Any machine it doesn't matter, if I see circuit boards and chips and wires, it's done. Say Goodbye. Imagine what I can do with tools and specially crafted (doped in manufacturing) chips. IMAGINE!!
I don't claim to have all the answers to this constitutional, and national security problem. I know a few folks out there have argued that the disabled need access to voting, I don't disagree, but I do disagree when that access is because you introduce unvalidatable electronics, there is NO electronic device that does not fail, have glitches, need testing, etc. This is insane what you are doing, and you have broken your OATH because of it.
If I had my way, if I was in the Military, I would DEFEND the CONSTITUTION and throw you in a jail for life. I am very angry about this, I will not let it go, because to let it go is to let the United States Of America go.
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 12/16/2006 @ 2:51 am PT...
By the way I was in the USAF. (I didn't say that when I hit send though)
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 12/16/2006 @ 11:33 am PT...
I signed up and sent a copy to my local paper - The Columbian - of Washington state. I got a vaguely worded response that said they won't publish my letter because "it's a form letter". Weird.
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 12/16/2006 @ 5:18 pm PT...
Make note: "The Columbian - Of Washington State" is a RAG, shred it to light fireplace logs, etc.
Don't feel bad the Sacramento Bee does not give a crap either. They got the blood on their hands too. Only thing they are good for is FRYS ADS.
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 12/17/2006 @ 9:47 am PT...
There is an alternative for those media companies not willing to listen at this time.
Wait for them to publish a voting warm fuzzy story. While doing this, get your facts down cold. References, implications, etc...
When they publish some "Machines worked perfectly" fluff piece, ask them for their supporting research. They, of course, won't have any that's solid.
Point out to them, the machines may well work as designed, but we have no verification said design actually conforms to the law, nor do we have any evidence said design is actually neutral in it's execution of the election process.
Hammer them hard for their supportin research and keep asking why they are publishing information they cannot substantiate. There is no way to substantiate any claim the machines are working properly. The information necessary is locked behind the law of trade secrets (which is BS), and the cloak of machine code...
Back in 2004, I got a local South Carolina television station to change it's story headline from "Voting machines worked perfectly", to "Voting machines worked as designed". They really were worried about the idea they could not substantiate something they were reporting.
A short essay about this experience can be found here:
This was originally published on the wonderful opednews.com
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 12/19/2006 @ 5:55 am PT...
Interesting how Brad Stepped back and took notice of how the buzz words are developed into our brain.
I hear ya brad, I knew this too. I just never stepped back like you have to figure out HOW TO SAY IT PROPER.
I knew early on that something was skewed with the language being used for "paper trails" (Back in my early DU days before I left in disgust)
I can tell you 100% what happens on an OPTICAL SCANNER when you don't want your vote scanned. Anyone want to hear it? What happens is the poll worker has to open this little metal tray below the scanner (with their key) and then you place your paper ballot inside. Then they lock it back up. It's called the Auxillary.
Do they remember to check that tray?
Do they re-scan the ballot anyway? (Against my verbal wish)
I don't know the answer to that.
But that is what happens RIGHT NOW in my local precint.
(we got a lot of republicans out here in greenhaven) Retards if you ask me.
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 12/19/2006 @ 5:57 am PT...
ps: I guess I just blew my transparancy for my local precint. Because there sure the hell wasn't ANY OTHER BALLOTS IN THE AUXILLARY SLOT except mine.
So voting was NOT transparent.