The software utility, eVote and the eVote clerk, injects true democracy and deliberation into our real-world landscape.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hate those newfangled electronic voting machines?

You’re not alone.

Rep. Jim Casorio Jr., D-Westmoreland, wants the feds to let Pennsylvania revert to using lever-style voting machines instead of the new “touch screen” machines that seem to annoy many voters.

He said some senior citizens told him in the last election that they wouldn’t vote on electronic machines, “and it wasn’t just about being intimidated by the new technology.”

“Many voters genuinely did not trust the electronic machines,” Casorio said. “They believed there was too much potential for error or manipulation with the machines.”

He plans to introduce a resolution next year urging Congress to revise the 2000 election law that mandated electronic voting machines.

Given a resolution has no force of law, don’t expect any changes soon.

Michael Race is Harrisburg bureau chief for Times-Shamrock Newspapers. Have a question or concern about state government? E-mail him at

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Action page for Velvet Revolution

The Velvet Revolution web site launch an action page demanding actual paper ballots in all elections. That is also definitely on our holiday wish list, and they are putting together an impressive team of election reform advocates to make it happen.


Please join more than 30 leading non-partisan Election Integrity organizations who have signed the following letter demanding that Congress enact legislation requiring a paper ballot for every vote cast. Problems throughout the 2006 primary and general elections have made it clear that only a paper ballot -- not a "paper trail", nor a "paper record" -- will begin to help re-establish confidence in our tattered electoral system.

Please fill out the form below to email the letter to your own Congress Members. We'll take it from there. It's time for American Citizens to take our democracy back. This is an important first step as Congress considers new Election Reform legislation.



We, the undersigned non-partisan election integrity organizations, strongly urge you, as a first order of business in the 110th Congress, to enact new federal legislation to protect the integrity of our elections. While there are many areas of concern for any such legislation, none is more essential to the accuracy of our elections and the confidence among our electorate than for there to be a paper ballot for every vote cast. Not a paper "trail" or a paper "record," but a paper BALLOT.

In light of lessons learned during the 2006 primary and general elections -- with myriad contests resulting in uncertainty and thousands of voters in state after state turned away from the polls unable to cast a vote on DRE systems which failed throughout the day -- we now hold that a paper ballot, whether counted by optical-scan system or hand, is the minimum requirement for any Election Reform legislation in which voters may have confidence. Such a requirement is needed to help ensure Americans that every legally registered voter can vote, that every vote is recorded precisely as the voter intends, and that every vote is counted and, if necessary, re-counted accurately.

This year's elections have made crystal clear that electronic voting machines -- both those without paper ballots, such as Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen systems, and even those with so-called "Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails" -- caused massive disruptions, undermined the results of crucial elections, and forced thousands of voters to leave the polls without being able to exercise their franchise.

Paper trails and paper records are not sufficient to safeguard elections and restore confidence among the electorate. Unless there is a paper ballot for every vote cast, three fundamental principles of democratic elections are violated:

1) OBSERVABLE TALLIES. It is impossible for citizens to observe the counting of electronic ballots and audit the results.

2) EQUAL ACCESS. Requiring voters to cast votes on computers discriminates against those who are not familiar with the technology.

3) ACCURATE RESULTS. It is impossible to ensure that the reported results are accurate. In fact, a voter-verifiable paper audit trail cannot be depended on to provide the certainty lacking in electronic tallies. Clear evidence from several recent elections reveals instances in which:

- The electronic screen record did not reflect the voter's intent.
- The electronic count did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
- The summary review screen did not match the paper trail produced by the e-voting machine.
- Voters did not know to verify the paper trail or were prevented from doing so by improper design, incorrect setup, or malfunction of the printer.
- Computer systems introduced unnecessary complexity into the entire election process and therefore increased the likelihood of errors by voters, poll workers, and election officials.
- Computerized voting relinquished control of the final outcome to the technical skills of those who programmed the software.

While it is not easy to reconcile the money already spent on new DRE systems, it would be worse to continue using election equipment that is not accomplishing its critical task. If this were a public safety matter, no one would question the ban on the continued use of a dangerous product, even if it had been funded by billions of public dollars. Why should we act any differently when it comes to protecting the safety of our electoral process?

Ultimately, the true price of free, fair, reliable, accurate, and transparent elections in America cannot be judged by dollars alone.

We therefore urge you to immediately enact legislation which requires a paper BALLOT for every vote cast. Now is the moment for action, in time to take effect for the 2008 primaries and general election.

Respectfully yours,

The Undersigned

Dolores Huerta Foundation
National Voting Rights Institute

Broward Election Reform Coalition
California Election Protection Network
Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results
Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota
Coalition for Voting Integrity - Pennsylvania
Colorado Voter
Coloradoans For Voting Integrity
Commonweal Institute
Defenders of Democracy
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Election Defense Alliance
Florida Fair Elections Coalition
Gathering To Save Our Democracy - Tennessee
Georgians for Verified Voting
Iowans for Voting Integrity
Mainstreet Moms (
Missourians for Honest Elections
N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting
Network of Citizens
New Yorkers for Verified Voting
Oregon Voter Rights Coalition
Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections - Florida - Maryland
Texas Safe Voting
The American Voter
Verifiable Voting Coalition of Virginia
Verify The Vote Indiana
Virginia Verified Voting
VoteRescue of Texas
Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition

Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition and Voters' Choice Act is now in a long winters sleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in its head.

The PBAC was invited to meet with the House State Government Committee the week after Thanksgiving, to "come in for another meeting similar to the one we had last spring" to "share our concerns about the recent election", and "make some sort of a compromise between Mr. Clymer's bill and what you have". FYI, Mr. Clymer's bill proposes to cap the number of signatures at 45,000, but make no other changes to the ballot access laws.

So, the list was made. It was being checked twice. We'll find out who's been naughty or nice.

A few days before the meeting was to have happened, Mr. Clymer's office called to say that the House had adjourned the 2005-06 session the night before, so all the committees officially dissolved and therefore cannot hold meetings. As a result, the planned meeting between the Coalition and the House State Government committee was canceled.


Looking ahead, the swearing in of the new Legislature is supposed to occur around January 22, 2007. Then the committees will reform. The canceled meeting is expected to be held sometime soon after that.

In other news, on Saturday, January 27, 2007, the members of the PBAC will be getting together for a day-long ballot access retreat at the Delco Peace Center near Springfield. The general goals of the retreat include discussing whether changes need to be made to the Voters' Choice Act, and to plan out near- and longer-term goals regarding where the Coalition goes from here.

While it is difficult to predict what sort of changes may be discussed, odds are that the existing VCA will remain as it is, except with new language possibly added to prevent a recurrence of the almost one million dollar fine levied against the Green Party's US Senate candidate, Carl Romanelli. Thanks to the un-democratic democrats.

Suggested changes in the PBAC's focus will be reported at the February LPP board meeting. Any Libertarians with ideas or concerns about ballot access are welcome to attend the retreat.

The PBAC continues to meet at least once a month. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 12th or 19th at 7:30 PM in the Swarthmore Borough Hall council chambers.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

EDUCAUSE REVIEW | September/October 2004, Volume 39, Number 5

Perhaps eVote could be positioned as a player in the uPortal framework as a portlet.
EDUCAUSE REVIEW | September/October 2004, Volume 39, Number 5 The uPortal project ( began in 2000 as a $3.2 million open source project of JA-SIG to create portal software for education. Three years later, it earned the #4 spot in the '2003 InfoWorld 100 Awards.' Portals provide a way to consolidate an institution�s information and service offerings (e.g., find a book, add a class, locate a ride) in a personalized way for individual users. Portals can enable single sign-on across a range of services and can free content/service providers from redundant work in developing a user interface and navigation. Over 175 colleges and universities use uPortal, and five companies provide for-fee support for the software.

The fall 2004 release of uPortal incorporates a new industry standard for content and service providers to deliver their information through 'portlets.' The JSR-168 specification means that a service (e.g., search the Library of Congress, receive calendar updates from the NSF, join a course discussion group) can be delivered in a standard way to any JSR-168-based portal. The summer and fall 2004 releases also included a number of tools to simplify institution-wide administration of the software. In addition, the uPortal project partnered with the Sakai Project to pre-integrate the software from these two open source initiatives.

The uPortal project provides one of the more mature examples in higher education of how open source software can eliminate licensing fees, provide world-class software, and continue to innovate through the contributions of software and tools from many colleges, universities, companies, and individuals.

Changes Are Expected in Voting by 2008 Election - New York Times

Here we go again.
Changes Are Expected in Voting by 2008 Election - New York Times voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted, including an end to the use of most electronic voting machines without a paper trail, federal voting officials and legislators say.
My top priority is open-source software.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Technical Guidelines Development Committee

Here is the text of the resolution that passed yesterday by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee after the initial
resolution was rejected on Monday:

"Election officials and vendors have appropriately responded to the growing complexity of voting systems by adding more stringent access controls, encryption, testing, and physical security to election procedures and systems. The TGDC has considered current threats to voting systems and, at this time, finds that security concerns do not warrant replacing deployed voting systems where EAC best practices are used.

To provide auditability and proactively address the increasing difficulty of protecting against all prospective threats, the TGDC directs STS to write requirements for the next version of the VVSG requiring the next generation of voting systems to be "software independent. The TGDC directs STS and HFP to draft usability and accessibility req. to ensure that all voters can verify the independent voting record. The TGDC further directs STS and CRT to draft requirements to ensure that systems that produce the independently verifiable voting records are reliable and provide adequate support for audits."

This Technical Guidelines Development Committee resolution does not require that any existing voting systems be "software independent", but does require this for the upcoming 2007 voluntary voting system standards. Existing systems do not ever have to meet the new standards unless individual states require it.

Hence, we'll need the US Congress to pass legislation requiring software indepence and funding systems that are fully auditable (optical scan paper ballot systems) to replace any unauditable systems like the paperless DREs used in MD, GA, and parts of PA and FL (and other places).

That is why these 15 recommendations for federal legislation to ensure the integrity of our democracy are so important to let our congressional representatives and senators know about:

and why it is important to require sufficient, transparent, independent, manual audits. It is important not to proscribe a fixed audit percentage, but rather proscribe a fixed probability for manual audits to detect outcome-altering vote miscount (say 95% or 98%) like that described here;

Best Regards,

Kathy Dopp
National Election Data Archive
Dedicated to Accurately Counting Elections

The Election Is in the Mail - New York Times

The Election Is in the Mail - New York Times: "AST Election Day, voters encountered myriad difficulties, from the unexplained glitch that temporarily halted Montana’s vote count to the 18,300 undervotes in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, to long lines, bad weather, inadequately trained workers, delayed or missing absentee ballots and complicated new identity forms. There was, however, one state where all went well: Oregon, where everyone votes by mail."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pushing for effective election integrity legislation

We urgently need to push the US Congress to pass effective election integrity legislation ASAP and not the kind of ill-considered legislation that Common Cause helped push through in 2002 or has been trying to push through recently.

Please print this 2 page (2-sided) document and send it to your two
U.S. Senators and your one U.S. Representative:

It is critical to mankind's future that we ensure the integrity of our democracy in time for the 2008 federal elections, which means that legislation must be passed by Spring 2007.

Please pass this request on to your friends and ask them to also send letters and include our recommendations for federal legislation to ensure the integrity of our democracy. Please do this in December because bills are being written now, in advance of the January session, and it is urgent that Congress not hastily pass another ill-considered bill without sufficiently consulting with experts.

There is nothing more important to safeguard our future than to safeguard our democracy.

Thank you.

I am currently working on creating a list of experts (computer scientists, attorneys, researchers, investigators, mathematicians/statisticians specializing in voting and elections) soon who can help review detailed legislative language.

The fact that the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) rejected the advise of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to require software independent voting systems this week, shows how urgently some of our recommendations are needed - before the TGDC votes to adopt the 2007 voluntary federal voting system

Best Regards, Kathy Dopp
National Election Data Archive
Dedicated to Accurately Counting Elections

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1816