Thursday, February 02, 2006

Election News and Event Announcements

I'm two for two with submitting letters to the editor of the Eureka Reporter. This was published today:
Election results should be a reflection of accuracy rather than expediency

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your recent reporting on voting machines. I have to wonder, though, if your Jan. 29 article (“Bruce McPherson requests voting system contingency plans”) accurately reflects the views and priorities of Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich.

According to The Eureka Reporter, Crnich said, “There’s always hand counts, but I don’t see that, (considering) the time involved, as a desirable alternative at all.”

Also: “That would be very late reporting,” Crnich said. “It would mean that we’d have to get the ballots in from Shelter Cove, Orleans and the farthest reaches of the county. The results that normally we have in between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. would probably not be available until morning or midday on Wednesday.”

Is Crnich suggesting that expediency is more important than verifiably accurate results? We shouldn’t sacrifice accuracy for anything. Any other attitude is inappropriate in the elections department.

The truth is, hand-counting paper ballots is a practical and cost-effective way for Humboldt County to conduct elections that will be transparent and verifiably accurate. We should happily trade a few extra hours of uncertainty for a provable outcome, as opposed to earlier returns coming from equipment with proprietary (secret) software that ensures permanent uncertainty about the true outcome.

Creating a basis for voter confidence and establishing proof of an election’s outcome must trump the expediency of rapid returns. Anyone charged with the responsibility of conducting elections should be very clear about this. If The Eureka Reporter has misrepresented Crnich’s position then she is owed an apology. On the other hand, if The Eureka Reporter has it right, Crnich’s priorities as registrar call into question her fitness for that office.

Dave Berman

(Editor’s note: We stand by the information reflected in the story, but thank you for writing about this important subject.)
VoteTrustUSA has the contingency plan Memo And Questionaire To Registrars of Voters, circulated not by McPherson but rather Bruce McDannold, Interim Director, Office of Voting Systems Technology Assessment. The meat and potatoes:
As of Friday, January 20, 2006, the following applications for certification have been received by the Secretary of State’s Office:

  • ES&S - Unisyn/InkaVote PBC

  • HART INTERCIVIC - System 6

  • SEQUOIA VOTING SYSTEMS - AVC Edge Voting System Version 5.0

  • POPULEX – Digital Paper Ballot Voting System
The current status of the above applications is as follows:
  • SEQUOIA VOTING SYSTEMS - AVC Edge Voting System Version 5.0

    Sequoia has not completed federal testing. Sequoia has advised the Secretary of State’s Office that they anticipate federal testing will be completed on or about January 31, 2006. Based upon this representation, we have tentatively scheduled Sequoia’s state and volume testing to begin February 6, 2006.


    As you are aware, Diebold has successfully completed both state and volume testing, the public hearing has occurred, and public comment has been taken. However, we have required the memory card to be sent back to the ITA to review the AccuBasic code. We are also conducting our own independent source code review, with the assistance of the Voting Systems Technical Assistance Advisory Board. A determination on certification will be made once the reviews have been completed and the reports issued.

  • ES&S - Unisyn/InkaVote PBC

    The ES&S InkaVote system began state testing this week.

  • HART INTERCIVIC - System 6

    The HART system is currently scheduled to resume state testing on February 1, 2006, and volume testing to occur on February 20-21, 2006.

  • POPULEX – Digital Paper Ballot Voting System

    Populex has been asked for additional information to complete their application.
Today's Oakland Tribune has more on these options, including some fairly ridiculous comments from a few county Registrars. Have they suddenly gone cold on the big push for all mail-in elections? Such an arrangement would fall far short of the standards set in the election reform platform of the Voter Confidence Resolution. And with timing that would be laughable if it weren't so serious, yesterday both the Eureka Reporter and Eureka Times-Standard reported on the recent identity theft outbreak that has involved mail fraud. The T-S also had this story three weeks ago about Eureka's Clark St. post office being remodeled following vandalism and burglary. I think the thieves may have absconded with our basis for confidence in mail-in election results. Ironically, some of the election integrity movement's language crept into the article:
Dino Marsango, officer in charge at the Clark Street Post Office, said remodeling the lobby is a “top priority.” Security issues and accessibility is still being looked at before remodeling can begin. (emphasis added)
* * *
I've previously mentioned the community forum on non-violent revolution coming up on Feb. 11. I will be one of the speakers at this event though the plan is for very brief presentations to be followed by round-table discussions on the topics addressed by the speakers. That means we'll have a dialog on election reform as a tactic toward peaceful revolution (see Blueprint For Peaceful Revolution). The Voter Confidence Committee will return to the scene, bursting at the seams with ongoing projects. Thinking ahead to how we can get new volunteers immediately plugged in, the VCC will also be holding its own event on Feb. 15 at 7pm at the Redwood Peace and Justice Center in Arcata.
* * *
Last week's edition of the North Coast Journal had a cover story about Humboldt blogs including the following:
Eureka resident Dave Berman keeps track of national news about potential electronic election-rigging on his Guvworld [sic] blog ( Berman is gaining some stature in the larger blogosphere, but local residents may want to stop by to check up on his long-running spat with county Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams over the security and tamperability of Humboldt County's electoral infrastructure.



The news just keeps getting better and better, Dave!

congratulations, and thank you for carrying the torch on this most important battle.

I hope you know how much your efforts are appreciated by those of us caught in the "rent/survival" throes, not able to take the level of action our hearts scream for. Though my feelings of guilt are as strong as ever, I am so heartened by your above and beyond, I have hope where there used to be naught but cynicism.

I pray for as much strength and support as you could possibly need, and maybe people will awaken before the water comes to a boil. (My last letter to the editor was about that frog in the slowly heating water as a symbol of the American people....I didn't get published.)

thanks again!
-Ian (not anonymous, just in a hurry. :-)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:25 PM  

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