Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Diebold/OVC Comparison Sheet Complete

This post was written on 5/6/05 and back dated when posted 5/8/05.

On Tuesday May 3, I finished this document (.pdf), a comparison between Diebold and Open Voting Consortium. Thanks to OVC's Alan and Lara, plus Jim Sopert for collaborating on this. I had been wanting it for a while to submit to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, which I finally did on Wednesday, along with the letter below and a copy of the Voter Confidence Resolution.

I was also interested to learn from Ellen at the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project that seven CA counties may switch to all mail-in voting. She sent me this article from Santa Rosa's Press Democrat. It says Oregon votes this way and has a very high rate of voter participation (I don't think you can really call it turnout). This increase is also seen in places that currently have a lot of absentee voters. Increasing voter participation is certainly a selling point. Another trend spotted: fewer polling places leads people to create the community aspect of election day through witnessing the vote counting, also encouraged by the Voter Confidence Resolution. So far, so good. Now show me the chain of custody for the ballots.

Discussions about Diebold's ability to accommodate RCV also got my attention on Tuesday. Actually, I was reminded of this April 20 SF Chronicle article. Berkeley, San Leandro and Oakland have all approved RCV and cannot yet implement it thanks to Diebold's inadequacies. Adding insult to injustice, Diebold is now trying to gouge the cities for making modifications necessary for using RCV. The pertinent question now relates to Humboldt County Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams, and whether he is making a supportable assumption about the ease of using Diebold machines in Humboldt for RCV.
* * *

May 3, 2005

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
825 Fifth Street, Room 111
Eureka, CA 95501

Dear Chairman Rodoni and members of the Board,

I understand that your recent decision regarding Diebold touch screen voting machines was to authorize the Elections Department to negotiate for their purchase. Fortunately, this is not a commitment to buying such machines, which means you still have the luxury of time to find a better alternative.

Accompanying this letter is a page describing some of the many ways that Diebold fails to meet the standards for reliable voting technology. Further, if you read the attached you will also see that Diebold fails to meet any criteria that might possibly describe an appropriate business partner for Humboldt County.

The flip side describes an open source alternative voting system made by Open Voting Consortium. This system also relies upon a computer interface voters have grown increasingly accustomed to using. However, since it is open source, we can all be privy to the inner workings of the machines. Perhaps even better, OVC relies upon a voter verified paper ballot that creates a triple redundant record of votes cast. Please become familiar with this emerging option and consider contacting Lara Shaffer to arrange a free demonstration (831-419 -0758).

The second attached document is the Voter Confidence Resolution, descended from similar earlier works provided to you under a different name. I ask you to consider the logic of this statement, which makes the case that our current election system is inherently designed to produce an inconclusive outcome. As long as any precinct in our entire country conducts voting on “black box” machines with secret programming and without paper ballots, there will be no basis for confidence in the results reported from U.S. federal elections. Please think deeply about the implications of this line of reasoning, and the evidence that supports it.

I am requesting the opportunity to meet with each of you to discuss these serious concerns and proposed responses. I think it would also be welcome and appropriate for you to place the Voter Confidence Resolution on the agenda of a future Board meeting to engage the community about the breadth and depth of concern for our lost democracy. We are not defeatists or complainers but rather optimists with an election reform platform and a positive message for re-establishing a basis for confidence in U.S. federal elections.

In Respect and Peace,



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