READER COMMENTS ON
"'Daily Voting News' For September 07, 2007"
(26 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 9/7/2007 @ 8:59 pm PT...
Brad and John, here is a message from a Pennsylvania voter who is disappointed that HR 811 was not brought up for a hearing by the Rules Committee. I don't have time to respond to it now, but I will later. In the meantime, I thought you'd be interested in it:
"All of us do not live in Sonoma County CA.
"In my state of Pennsylvania, a highly-targeted swing state that could be the battleground that swings the 2008 election, fifty-four of our most populous counties are forcing their citizens to throw their votes down paperless Direct Record Electronic voting machines, including some of the most notorious models for failures and losing votes.
"Approximately SEVEN MILLION Pennsylvania voters HAVE NO PAPER BALLOT, and will not for the foreseeable future unless HR 811 or some other piece of Federal legislation passes, and passes quickly. If Pennsylvania has problems there is nothing to audit or recount. Come next November our 21 electoral votes could easily go the wrong way --- all it would take would be one meldown or the right "glitch" happening in PA that day. And if that happens, don't say you weren't warned.
"Your description of the electoral process in Sonoma County sounds like a Walgreens commercial describing the community of "Perfect". If everything you say is true (which somehow I doubt that Sonoma County is really that much of a Utopia) then maybe you don't need election reform.
"For the rest of us who don't live in "Perfect", we need this bill."
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 9/7/2007 @ 9:16 pm PT...
Yes, that's exactly how the greedy plutocrats always manage to get their way. They never stop preying on people's desperation to settle for dangerously-not-good-enough in order to feel as though they have done something. They take impeccable legislation and whittle away at it by breaking its provisions and redefining its terms to evade penalty.... They put up crappy legislation that purports to address desperate problems in the hope that no one will notice, or if we notice, they just keep throwing wrenches in to run out the clock, or wear out our nerves. Now we have people whining about not living in "Perfect" and needing to pass fascistic legislation to be able to fool themselves that they have averted another stolen election.
WHEN DO WE EVER GET TO THE POINT WHERE THESE FUCKERS HAVEN'T HOIST US BY OUR OWN PETARDS WITH THEIR CYNICAL APPLICATIONS OF THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF HUMAN NATURE?
Didn't someone mention slamming the machines against the walls and peeing on them? That solution is way better, more American, and safer for society than this imperfect bill.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 12:07 am PT...
This argument comes up frequently. Often we have heard folks present us with a false choice: embrace Holt or nothing will be fixed. But that isn't the choice we face at all.
The most remarkable progress is being made all across the country, state by state. What's the secret recipe for this sort of sucess? Local action. Local citizens demanding better from their local government. That is precisely why the Framers did not give authority over elections to the federal government.
It's certainly unfortunate that some folks will be voting in districts using DRE systems. The machines have failed horribly; we all know this now. The solution is simply: remove them. Ban them. Stop using them. You cannot resolve the numerous problems with these machines by attaching an overpriced, unreliable printer.
Remember, these thermal printers failed the recent NJIT study so badly that the NJ Superior Court declared the situation "a crisis", and immediately ordered an action plan to remove all 10,000 of the states DRE's.
If the printers are THAT bad, do you really want to spend a billion dollars to attach them to the DRE's you know are shoddy to begin with? Wouldn't that be the clearest case of throwing good money after bad?
The absence of a bill does not mean our progress stops. Nor is this our one, last chance to fix things. We the People will continue to make progress with our without Congress, and even despite it.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 12:50 am PT...
The comments you read were likely from Marybeth Kuznick, a great election integrity advocate in PA. And she's right. For PA, HR 811 would be great. For the rest of the country, however, not so much.
The reason HR 811 would be great for PA is because the state found DRE paper trails to be unconstitutional. So they can either use DREs without paper trails OR paper ballot systems.
Since HR 811 mandates that any DREs used must have a paper trail, PA would be forced by federal law to move to all paper ballot systems.
That's good for them. Not good for the rest of the country where DREs would be allowed to continue to be used with paper trails that do nothing to ensure either the integrity or transparency of the vote.
We're all in this mess together. Simply because the bill helps a single state, is not a reason to send the other 49 into the toilet.
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 6:14 am PT...
According to the recent Dan Rather report on Sequoia Voting Systems, ballot punch cards manufactured by Sequoia specifically for Florida were rigged for failure.
In Rather’s report seven former Sequoia company employees expose on camera that, over their strong objections, they were forced to manufacture Palm Beach County, FL punch card ballots using poor quality paper that could not properly hold and release punch hole chads.
The seven revealed they also had been forced to deliberately misalign the punch hole chads on the substandard ballot cards so they would not proper align with ballot positions on the Palm Beach County punch voting machines.
Excerpts from Rather’s report, “We asked Evans [one of the seven Sequoia employees] if she could demonstrate for us the chad testing that had led to her concerns. This became possible when last fall Palm Beach County released over 200,000 unvoted ballots left over from the 2000 election. We had a gang punch identical to the one used by Linda Evans at the factory…While older sequoia ballots- made earlier, for another county, punched perfectly [in the test], the Palm Beach ballots made for the 2000 election showed a troubling pattern: many cards showed clusters of hanging chads- primarily in the column that contained the presidential candidates…."
Over 50,000 Sequoia punch cards statewide were discarded as invalid because voters appeared to have overvoted. In fact, on fully 17,000 of the sequoia cards, voters seemed to have voted for three or more presidential candidates! Meanwhile, in Palm Beach County alone over 10,000 voters had not voted for president at all.
It is only now, seven years after the November 2000 election, that this “technical quality” issue has come to light - thanks to Dan Rather.
Now that it is becoming clear that the punch card ballot problem was due to deliberate misalignment of the punch chads on the card, why not just take all that old punch card voting equipment out of the warehouse and use it again. Just add a pre-election testing procedure to "certify the quality of the punch cards. The problem of finding new money to buy new voting equipment to fix the DRE voting machines becomes moot.
And, BTW, DRE voting machine "vote flipping" has been determined to be caused by touch screen misalignment to the software displayed ballot image. Hmmm, card punch hole chad misalignment to the ballot vs DRE touch screen misalignment to the ballot.... HEY WAIT A MINUTE! These guys used the same trick twice in a row to get us to throw millions and millions more dollars on voting equipment.
fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 10:00 am PT...
Is there a web site that explains how your county counts your ballots so efficiently? I believe in hand counted paper ballots and would love to study your system further. I've never bought that Americans don't care enough to organize and do this for ourselves.
Once again you make me get my dictionary out! Thanks!!
Bob Bancroft #3
I couldn't agree more with every single thing you said. Right On.
I don't know if Marybeth said this or not, but I am sure we'll find out! I totally agree she is a great EI advocate, but also agree she is short sighted in her support of HR811 for the exact reason you stated. We remain friends though, which is something I can't say for all in the EI movement with differing opinions and I find that extremely unfortunate.
Michael Dean #5
Excellent points! I always thought the counties that were getting rid of their lever/ punch card equipment were acting rashly.
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 10:05 am PT...
I just got a global message from MoveOn with the header "White House Caught Lying About Iraq."
I am tempted to send a message to Noah Winer with the header "MoveOn Caught Lying About HR 811."
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 10:18 am PT...
I don't know if this site will have what you want, but check it out. And then you can always give them a phone call. This is a very citizen-friendly, responsive office. We will have no elections until Feb. 2008, so now would be a better time to call rather than later. As you would expect, they are busy, but I have never felt rushed by them in any way. If you want the contact information for one of the individuals who I am answerable to, maybe the site managers for this blog would be willing to allow us to share e-mails.
You might say to them that you are an election reform activist working at the national level, and that you have heard from other activists that Sonoma County, CA has very good elections protocols and procedures, and that you'd like to learn how it is set up and operates, so that you can possibly use it as a model for the rest of the country.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 11:02 am PT...
Thanks for the info and pointers, and I'm looking forward to following up. I requested to send my email to you, so hope to be in contact soon!
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 11:57 am PT...
Once again I must dissent from the opinion expressed in this thread that HR 811 RH (the amendment in the nature of a substitute) does not require paper ballots, and that it mandates DRE machines:
The appropriate election official at each polling place in an election for Federal office shall offer each individual who is eligible to cast a vote in the election at the polling place the opportunity to cast the vote using a pre-printed paper ballot which the individual may mark by hand and which is not produced by a direct recording electronic voting machine. If the individual accepts the offer to cast the vote using such a ballot, the official shall provide the individual with the ballot and the supplies necessary to mark the ballot, and shall ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that the waiting period for the individual to cast a vote is not greater than the waiting period for an individual who does not agree to cast the vote using such a paper ballot under this paragraph.
(Holt HR 811 RH page 21, lines 16-23 thru page 22, line 7, emphasis mine).
Doesn't that mean we do not have to use the EVM, and instead must be allowed to cast a paper ballot vote instead? Notice further:
Any paper ballot which is cast by an individual under this paragraph shall be counted and otherwise treated as a regular ballot for all purposes (including, to the greatest extent practicable, the deadline for counting the ballot) and not as a provisional ballot, unless the individual casting the ballot would have otherwise been required to cast a provisional ballot if the individual had not accepted the offer to cast the vote using a paper ballot under this paragraph.
(id at page 22, lines 8-18, emphasis mine). It seems to me that it could be argued that anyone can cast a paper ballot under Holt HR 811 RH, and furthermore, that the paper ballot must be counted.
The date on HR 811 RH that I link to above is May of 2007. Isn't it about time EI movement folk figure this out?
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 12:31 pm PT...
Dredd, why have two systems allowing huge numbers of uninformed or convenience-sake voters to use the DREs? I'm a Judge of Elections and believe me, every added procedure (as in two systems) makes for more chances of mistakes! Get rid of the one that doesn't work, DREs, and invest the monies into systems that do, as in hand counting or if we must, at least open source opscan. And finally, how about leaving money available for recounts of real ballots not toilet paper rolls.
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 12:44 pm PT...
The Dreddster wants us EI types to just stand by with superior smirks while those who aren't in the know are lied to nonstop about how "safe" and "secure" e-voting machines are while the government dangles them like prizes in front of voters at the polling place.
(Waitaminute... that means that Dredd is pushing a "separate but equal" doctrine... Feinstein will just love that part of it...)
What did you say? It's not cool to have the government sponsor machines that are known to be inherently flawed and vulnerable? It's not cool to have the government covertly alter the checks and balances of our democratic processes at the same time?
But... but... but the Dreddster insists we need to do just that! And we need to do it right now!
Surely Dredd knows something we don't?
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 1:20 pm PT...
Hey, Zap I think your off base about Dredd, if your actually finally talking to me. Like my other friend discussed earlier, I think they're sincerely saying what they believe is best. I thought that was the point on this blog to discuss without gettin personal. I already apologized for my mistake with you and I'm not making it again.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 1:52 pm PT...
... actually I was unaware that I'd stopped talking to you ... I felt no need for such an explanation as you describe and thus probably overlooked it. All I can say is no offense meant or taken...
Seriously, although my comments were in response to Dredd's post they were general purpose snarkiness and aimed at everyone and no one.
The "separate but equal" argument does have solid footing and in an election debate informed by Feinsteins current missteps in that regard is actually quite relevant.
As for Dredd, there's a point where constantly talking about how "something isn't really as bad as they say" in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary becomes indistinguishible from advocacy on the issue... and Dredd crossed that boundary a few months back.
And "Surely Dredd knows something we don't?" is a snarky reference to Dredds fairly consistent habit of claiming knowledge to make personal interpretations of law that otherwise seem to be... not in evidence.
That may seem to be "getting personal" to some but what else can one do when one side of a debate steadfastly refuses to admit error regardless of the cost to them?
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 3:04 pm PT...
Thanks for reponding Zap. I do think you've got something there with the separate but equal stuff. It should be plain to any one with correct info DREs will never be equal to real paper ballots, but would you clarify for me what your referring to as Feinstein's current missteps. The cozying up(read fix is in here) to Microsoft lobbying perhaps? This is a huge part of what screws up the real passage and amendment of the bill I think Dredd is hoping for.
Anyway, I still say every one is not a lawyer and Dredds posts are helpful.
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 7:17 pm PT...
Regarding suing for rebates on DREs, Mark Feenberg, one of the presenters at the Top-toBotton Review hearing in Sacramento made the following comment at the end of his speech(From the transcript):
"If people are wondering what they're going to do
with all these devices that we're not going to use
anymore, I'm in the scrap metal business --
-- and I'm willing to pay 5 cents
a pound for every electronic voting device in the state.
We've got trucks standing by. We'll come pick them up.
And I guarantee I'll send them to China.
MODERATOR PÉREZ: Thank you, Mr. Keenberg. Next"
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 7:34 pm PT...
Sorry if this is OT, but one of the leaders of the 911 truth movement that has assisted in voting rights, transparency in government, and assisting in exposing corruption has been arrested at 9:00pm in NYC as he was supporting the largest group of victims families and the NYC first responders. More here:
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 7:36 pm PT...
Alex Jones has just been released and is giving a speech
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 9/8/2007 @ 8:06 pm PT...
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 2:54 am PT...
Dredd #10 sedd:
Once again I must dissent from the opinion expressed in this thread that HR 811 RH (the amendment in the nature of a substitute) does not require paper ballots, and that it mandates DRE machines
I don't believe anybody here said that 811 "mandates DRE machines". What has been said (in many threads) is that 811 allows for the continued use of them, institutionalizes them into federal law, and puts out loads of tax-payer money for "upgraded" versions with "paper trails" and for an even newer generation beyond that with printers that haven't actually been invented yet.
As to the rest of your comments, which you continue to repeat over and over again, concerning the "paper or plastic" option you refer to (officially: the Capuano Amendment), please go read the response I gave you to that the last time.
And finally, as to your continued dubious notion that a paper trail is a paper ballot, even though it's never counted by anyone or anything, just because Rush Holt's legislation says it is, I'll point you back to this previous response to the same point.
Still love ya. But you're still just wrong about this, and making an argument that even Holt's supporters (the honest ones any way) don't bother to make because they know that it's nonsense.
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 6:41 am PT...
Anyone with a sixth grade education should be able to read the text themselves and decide what it says in english. If not, it really doesn't matter what we vote on or vote with. Dorks elect dorks.
And I see no reason to protest something that allows me to choose to use:
a paper ballot
a DRE with a paper trail
I would without any doubt use the paper ballot and urge them to junk the DRE.
That is how I interpret that text I cited in post #10, and it is a choice I can live with, in the sense that it is an improvement over the current situation.
If any election official denied me the right to use the paper ballot if that text became law, that election official would be spending lots of money on lawyers defending their breach. I most certainly would bring a full-blown lawsuit.
And if election officials think Diebold charges a lot, wait until they have to start paying election specialist lawyers to defend them in the federal courts.
The exercise, if Holt / Nelson passes with that text in it (it won't due to a republican filibuster if they ever get it to the Senate floor), would be to educate every voter to boycott the DRE and choose the paper ballot option.
Election officials might just get the message, but if not, we could go on to fully de-DRE the place anyway later.
The gadfly mentality that takes a position that nothing is ever done sufficiently is lame as hell and is the blather of a chronically sad person.
COMMENT #22 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 6:53 am PT...
If we could get it down to just DRE vs paper ballots that would be simple enough, in the sense that now we have much more than that.
And as I have explained, there is no generic power in the federal congress to mandate exactly what states must do in their own state elections. Thus there is the potential that they use DRE techology in their own elections anyway.
Of course I can't disagree with you that it would be election nirvana if we would just simply use paper ballots every time for both state and federal elections. It is the ultimate solution in that sense.
But in today's electronic world I think that is more of a fantasy than it is a real potential.
COMMENT #23 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 7:45 am PT...
There is some confusion about the text quoted by Dredd #10. The language in his quote says (about counting the paper ballots offered by the paper or plastic provision):
"shall be counted and otherwise treated as a regular ballot for all purposes (including, to the greatest extent practicable, the deadline for counting the ballot) and not as a provisional ballot"
But my information on the version of the bill currently under consideration, the so-called Manager's Mark, puts it this way:
"shall be counted and otherwise treated as a regular ballot for all purposes (including by incorporating it into the final unofficial vote count (as defined by the State) for the precinct)"
It seems Hoyer took issue with the idea of meeting a deadline, and inserting language that would appear to mean something similar, but which creates wiggle room by deferring to uncited State definitions.
My concern here is: can anyone validate which version of this language actually is the Manager's Mark? I believe my source is correct.
COMMENT #24 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 10:37 am PT...
I'm glad to finally be seeing the fight getting bloody.
We need to fight to the death to get this right. In so many cases fight for perfection isn't good and accepting 'the good' is great. In this instance what could 'the good' be except to be rid of electronic voting machines?
I can only imagine an electronic vote recorder being of any use if it prints on a paper ballot the person reviews and hands to the counters. But, why waste money on that?
Simply use paper ballots and ensure the results are right. That is much more important than any ease of use issue and it's certainly cheaper than these infernal machines.
F I G H T !!!!!
COMMENT #25 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 10:42 am PT...
In answer to Dredd's frustration in continuing to note that any one voter will be allowed to vote on paper...
Would you eat the results of combining and stirring shit-laden portions of food with pristine ones?
This is what you are advocating as a good solution.
Shit plus no-shit is SHIT.
With apologies for the easily-offended.
COMMENT #26 [Permalink]
said on 9/9/2007 @ 11:21 am PT...
"If we could get it down to just DRE vs paper ballots that would be simple enough, in the sense that now we have much more than that."
I have to disagree Dredd.
I believe the ultimate issue here is the counting electronically vs printing electronically.
Counting electronically can not be validated.
Printing electronically, can be validated, (e.g. you can see the actual paper ballot created) and it also helps the disabled to create a paper ballot which otherwise might be impossible.
Anything that COUNTS electronically is the ENEMY here.
If all the DRE did was print a paper ballot to be hand counted, I wouldn't personally have a problem with that DRE. But when you use the DRE alone to count, it simply can not be validated.