Life got in the way of posting regularly here, but I'm back in catch-up mode. Here's a link to a post by Jeremy Wilbur, the mayor of Woodstock, about the impact of scanners on local towns. The benefits of keeping our lever machines -- election integrity, security, and cost to taxpayers.
The Mayor of Woodstock: Elections and Decent People: "Perhaps you've heard the uproar over the quadrupled costs of maintaining the Ulster County Board of Elections ($442,000 in 2005, proposed $1,677.000 for 2009). You will if you haven't; every town supervisor and mayor in the county is outraged since he or she is expected to add an incredibly spiked figure to his or her respective municipal budget."
Today, 18 counties have passed resolutions requesting that NYS make every effort to retain lever machines. I think all but one resolution passed unanimously. It's never too late in a democracy to do the right things.
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The number of counties resolved to keep levers is climbing, despite the illegal "pilot" that the NY State Board of Elections has announced.
Blog � Resolved: NY Communities Want Levers: "The InterCounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks, representing ten NY Counties, yesterday passed a resolution urging the State to allow counties to keep using lever voting systems. Delaware County passed a resolution the same day, bringing the quickly growing total of individual county resolutions to 11. More counties are expected to follow suit."
The puzzling thing is that several of the counties that have passed resolutions unanimously are listed as participants in the "pilot." Rumor has it that some have tried to drop out of the pilot without success. Others are planning a 100% count of the paper ballots and working hard to ensure that chain of custody procedures for the paper are in place.
What's the status of the pilot in your county? I'm working on determining what it is here in Ulster County. Perhaps citizen voices can bring some pressure.
The suit (Babson v. Cronin, Civ No. 08-1-0115(3) ) was brought by attorney Lance Collins on behalf of five citizens of Maui against Hawaii’s Chief Elections Officer (see background on Disappeared News in these articles). The suit challenged three aspects of the voting process, according to attorney Collins:
1. The use of electronic voting machines was not adopted through lawful rulemaking n accordance with the Hawai'i Administrative Procedure Act (HAPA).
2. The use of the Internet and/or telephone lines to transmit vote counts was not adopted through lawful rulemaking (HAPA).
3. The use of the Internet and/or telephone lines to transmit vote counts is not allowed under current state law."
The suit was brought by residents of Maui who were concerned that the transmission of votes via telephone and internet could be hacked and votes flipped without the public knowing.
While many of us are working to save the integrity of our election system by defeating New York's move to software-based vote counting, Hawaii and the NYC Department of Education have moved in the other direction -- internet-based voting. James Pinkerton has written an interesting commentary on the politics of vote counting, anticipating what he thinks is an inevitable move to the internet.
I include some excerpts from his piece. His questions and comments are as relevant to software-based vote-counting machines as the internet, but his solution seems as flawed as the current "certification" process.
...But of course, the high-tech nature of digital democracy adds a new layer of complexity, as well as mystery, to the voting process. In theory, the technology is completely neutral. But theoretical technology and practical politics are two different things. Diebold, a leading manufacturer of traditional voting machines, has come under repeated fire for alleged pro-Republican bias. But the complexity of a voting machine is nothing compared to the complexity of computers and the Internet.
...So what’s needed immediately is a completely fair and transparent process to examine all facets of the transition to Internet voting. And the only way to achieve that fairness and transparency is to create a rigorously bipartisan outfit to oversee the implementation of such technology, modeled after either the Federal Election Commission, or the private Commission on Presidential Debates.
Voter fraud has always been a problem, and always will be. The integrity of our election system is based on the voters' belief that the system is impartial, observable, and secure.
A bipartisan commission of Washington lackeys sitting in a hearing room can never assure voters that a software based system -- local or internet driven -- is secure or impartial, never-mind observable. I cite the recent American Idol vote as a silly, but relevant example.
My Google Alerts for voting news were full of articles this week about the groundswell of fans who believe that AT&T manipulated the American Idol vote and that's why their favorite lost.