Author Archive: Ann R

Barack Obama Needs You!

President Elect Obama is asking for your opinion.  He wants to hear from all of us he needs our support and attention!

The Change.gov team has set up a second round of voting for the most important issues for the new administration to address.  You can go to the link below, easily register and vote for 10 issues.

the ideas are sorted into categories like:

Government Reform

Economy

Health care

Energy

Education

Environment

The Mother of All Issues:

If you care about energy independence, health care, education, the environment, the economy, then you should care about public funding. Because there is one underlying reason why our representatives in Congress can’t move off the dime to solve these problems, and that reason is money. Big money that buys access and influence in Washington, dominates our policies and corrupts our politics. The only way to get big money out of politics is to cut politicians’ dependence on big campaign contributions. It all comes down to one issue: public funding!

(the above is from youstreet.org)

Remember even if our politicians aren’t getting corrupted they spend too much of their time raising money and too little on making good legislation.

Consider our most recent loss- the  Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.  He almost became  Secretary of Commerce but our system of private financing for political campaigns has made, at least the appearance of,  a”pay to play” problem for Governor Richardson.

Please vote for Citizens funding of the Nations Elections and then vote for 9 other ideas!

Voting ends Jan.15

http://www.change.org/ideas/vi…

Problems with Sequoia Advantage Printer System VVPR

Testimony presented by  the Electoral Reform Group of BluewaveNJ regarding Sequoia Advantage voter verified paper record  printer (proposed) system before  the NJ  Department of Law and Public Safety Voting Machine Examination Committee  7/24/2007.

As interested citizens and members of BluWaveNJ, a grassroots political organization, we have been concerned that any voting system be secure, accurate and reliable.  In short, we want every vote accurately counted in such a manner that the electorate will have total confidence in the result of all elections.  To this end, we have attended meetings of our County Freeholder Board, we have reviewed the purchase contract between Essex County and Sequoia and we have repeatedly requested an opportunity to view and test the proposed printer which is the subject of this hearing.

Despite these requests, no access to the printer was given until today July 24 2007 when the hearing is taking place.  Additionally the report of NJIT which “tested” the printer was not available until the end of last week.  We wish to express our great concern and dismay with this proceedure.  Instead of transparency and openness, we feel that there is only the illusion of fair process. that being said and with the understanding we object to the frame work of this hearing we would like to note the egregious shortcomings in this system which are obvious even with the limited opportunity afforded to observe the machine and prepare for this hearing.

1.  No real world testing has been done . Instead of having a large number of machines tested by average voters operated by regular poll workers, under conditions approximating an actual election, three probably brand new machines, were tested under laboratory conditions.  We have no way of calculating probable failure rates based on these tests.

NJ VVPR Criteria available for comment by 4/16

The New Jersey Division of Elections has a draft of  the criteria for voter verified  paper record for DREs and  are accepting comments on this draft  filed by April 16th.
go to their web site to for the PDF of the criteria. Comments can be filed on line at the NJ Division of Elections website.

A question I have  on the first paragraph of the criteria:
How could the AG determine that there was no commercially available  technology  for  printing a VVPR or Ballot ? We can always switch to a paper ballot. We could hand count all votes or buy  op scan machines.  There are no great voting machines out there yet.  New York State’s imminent large purchase of voting machines should get the manufactures hustling to  design a machine that is reasonably accurate and trustworthy. As of now there is no such machine on the market.
I hope Sequoia can come up with a good printer that doesn’t jam or break down… but if not we can’t go back to DRE voting  without a paper trail. It’s wrong and HR811 will probably be in effect by 2008.

Printers for the VVPT/Ballot on the Sequoia voting machines

Finally 3/20/07 some news on these printers!  the NY Times “Suit Prompts NJ to Reinvent Voting Systems” by Ronald Smothers:

http://www.nytimes.c…

From this article it looks like NJ is on the verge of doing some really good things in time for May 07 primaries:

1-Having a paper record or ballot for the Sequoia voting machines used in most counties.

2-Random Audits, not yet required by federal law but the NJ State AG’s office wants them.
 

In addition to providing a reliable paper trail, the new certification process would require random auditing of the machines and testing to make sure they can hold up under intense use. Until now only the federal government has required such certification, and adherence is voluntary

And Ms. Milgram, first assistant to NJ State Attorney General, promised Judge Fienberg that the protocols for audits and certification requirements would be established the first week in April and that public hearings will be held in regards to the new auditing procedures and the new printer add on to the Sequoia voting machines.

But

Ms. Milgram said that the company currently providing voting machines had gone through four approaches to retrofitting its equipment (for paper trail/ballot), but that the state “was not pleased with them.” The latest and fifth version held more promise, she said.

Sequoia is on the 5th try?  Are these printers ever going to work right?
These machines need to work and work hard- I for one look forward to larger and larger voter turn-out.  If they can get the Sequoia to work with the VVPT and a system of audits we will be in good shape but if not we should consider another system all together.  And when our Officials start talking about price they should compare the expense of storing the voting equipment, moving it to the polls and what the costs of keeping these machines safe will be. This is part of the price. There  are other voting systems that are less bulky less costly and even less prone to tampering mischief.

Also reported in the Star Ledger last weekend,

http://www.nj.com/st…

  and  mentioned in the Times article, there is an investigation involving Essex, Bergen and Union counties in regards to the initial purchase of  the Sequoia machines.  This inquiry by the State Commission of Investigation may turn up other reasons to scrap the Sequoia machines ASAP before we invest in the printers and the new training to operate them.

A Voters Concern Regarding the Printers for the Sequoia Voting Machines

New Jersey is in the process of testing and buying printers for the Sequoia touch screen voting machines that were purchased in 2005 to comply with the Help America Vote Act- sponsored by non other than Bob Ney of Ohio. In the rush to buy these machines we may have not selected the best kind.  It is crucial that the State get a secure reliable voting system because this is how we deliver democracy to the people.

We need to know if the printers are working well and will not break down constantly. We need to know that the VVPT (voter verified paper trail) is legible and well designed; A large sample voters, from all walks of life, should review sample VVPTs and see if the design is clear and easy to understand. We need to know that there will be sufficient audits of the VVPT to ensure that paper tallies correspond to machine tallies. And we need to have good protocols for the storing and delivering of the machines and for how election workers should proceed if fraud is suspected.

New Jersey should also use the experience of other states as a guide. In Feb. 2007 Gov. Crist (FL) announced plans to abandon the touch-screen voting machines bought in 2002, to adopt instead a statewide system of casting paper ballots counted by optical scanners. In Mar. 2006, Gov. Richardson (NM) signed a bill requiring optical scan, saying “Paper ballots serve as the ultimate back-up for our elections, providing secure and permanent verification of the will of the people.”

If Sequoia is unable to produce a reliable printer for the VVPT on their touch screen machines we should consider a switch to a paper ballot optical scan system. Other states have abandoned these machines fearing for the security of their elections.  Or if we have enough confidence in the Sequoia with the new printer we might consider the example of Virginia: This month Virginia passed a bill to phase out the machines as they wear out, and replace them with optical scanners.

Over half of American voters already cast paper ballots read by optical scanners. The technology is secure. It’s accurate. It’s accessible. It’s verifiable. And it’s cost-effective. Voters must have confidence that their vote has been accurately recorded and counted and that election results can be examined and confirmed. The State of New Jersey must do everything possible to provide these guarantees.

We may be better off if we adopt a single statewide system using paper ballots, precinct based optical scanners, and accessible ballot marking devices. Along with auditing protocols for verifying that the optical scanner count conforms to the count of paper ballots. And a bi-partisan approved system for ballot design and protocols for storing and transferring the optical scan machines as well as procedures for the detection of fraud.