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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Democracy Campaign Update

This is a big week for election reform – and PFAW’s work in the Democracy Campaign – on several fronts.

The Committee on House Administration is voting to mark up Rep. Rush Holt’s Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (H.R. 811), which would solve many of the security and accountability problems with ALL voting machines before the 2008 elections. And the House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up H.R. 1281, the House version of Sen. Obama’s Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act. The movement of this bill is a giant step toward stopping individuals and groups that use intimidation and misinformation to disenfranchise voters (who are often targeted by race or economic status).

And in the states…

In Colorado, a bill has been introduced that would establish permanent “no excuse” absentee voting – a policy which drastically improves access to the ballot box, increasing civic participation and strengthening democracy.

In California, a “deceptive practices” bill similar to the federal legislation is set to have hearings starting in April.

In Maryland, both the House and Senate have passed legislation to restore voting rights more swiftly to certain people with felony convictions who previously had to wait three years for the right to vote, even after fully completing their sentences. Also in Maryland, the House just passed legislation, similar to the Holt bill, requiring paper trails for electronic voting machines.

Read about our Election Reform work in the states:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

E-Petitions Offer 'Opportunity For Informed Debate'

Local authorities should not be dissuaded from launching e-petitioning services by the recent controversy surrounding the e-petitioning service provided on the Prime Minister's website, according to Bristol City Council.

The service on the Number 10 website, which launched in November 2006, has come under heavy attack from the media and some MPs on two widely different grounds: that it is a public relations exercise, offering the public no genuine involvement in policy issues, or that it paves the way for "mob rule".

Neither of these need be the outcome for e-petition systems run by local authorities, according to Carol Hayward, Corporate Consultation Manager at Bristol City Council. In the two and a half years that the Bristol system has been running, 60 e-petitions have been submitted, collecting a total of 20,000 signatures. The result has been improved policies, more transparent decision-making, and closer links between councillors and the community, she told E-Government Bulletin.

"It's been really useful for raising issues that councillors hadn't thought of, and for finding out public opinion," said Hayward. Unlike the Number 10 service, the Bristol e-petitioning system hosts online discussions, and is used by politicians as well as members of the public. Guidance on how to set up and run a similar service is part of a new e-democracy guide available from the council,

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dr. Rec on Voter Fraud vs. Election Fraud

Citizens for Legitimate Government... Note the White House and Justice emphasis on voter fraud, as opposed to election fraud. The distinction is not a minor one. Voter fraud places the blame for election scandals on so-called felonious and 'dead' voters whose votes are reputedly cast for Democrats. These felons and dead-men-voting are the old boogie men of Republican rhetoric regarding elections.

Election fraud, on the other hand, might include organizational, party-level, state-collusive manipulation and/or purging of voter rolls, the failure to count or the miscounting of ballots, the destruction of ballots, the failure to recount ballots when legally required to do so by state laws, the illegal use of election facilities for party purposes, the state-sanctioned targeting of precincts for faulty or inadequate amounts of equipment, and of course, the manipulation of electronic voting machine tabulations.

In short, election fraud includes the very serious and major problems that did account for the election thefts of 2000 as well as 2004. While voter fraud is a notorious boogie man-the alleged dead-man-voting that no one can locate on the ground.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New voting machines could be trashed

New voting machines could be trashed New voting machines could be trashed
Altered U.S. law would require radical changes

Heads up for US Congressman Holt and Senator Nelson, and others

Please contact your US Senators and US Representative (especially Representative Rush Holt's office and Senator Bill Nelson's office) and ask them to read this paper which explains the problems of trying to verify the software integrity of voting machines:

Your Senators and Representative's contact information is available here:

I have provided a sample email or letter to US Congressional staff below that you can modify and send. Please forward this email to your email lists.

Dear Congressional Staffer Who Works on Election Integrity:

Please be so kind as to read this paper which was written with the help of dozens of skilled technologists, because it explains for the lay person, the complexities of voting system software disclosure and shows why the current software disclosure proposals by Representative Holt and Senator Nelson (HR811 and S559) would not work and must be rewritten.

"Avoid Another HAVA Train Wreck: Software Disclosure Requirements are a Good Long Term Goal But Need to Be Redrafted in Current Federal Election Integrity Legislation"

Current voting system software disclosure provisions in federally proposed legislation need to be rewritten, perhaps in separate legislation, in consultation with experts with diverse technical backgrounds.

It might be wiser to pass simpler legislation requiring sufficient manual audits and public access to election records that are necessary to verify election outcomes that could be implemented by 2008, and put any requirements for long-term improvement of voting equipment that require time for development cycles into a separate bill.

It is very important for Congressional staffers who are tasked with considering election integrity legislation in each Congressional office to know that we need a clean election bill that would ensure accurate election outcomes by 2008, plus realistic measures to achieve better voting systems long-term - not another HAVA mess.

Congressional staffers are also urged to read this evaluation of the Holt/Nelson election audits, which shows how the Holt/Nelson election audit could be revised to assure that election audits protect all US House districts, even in close races.

"Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity"

and a list of some of the loopholes and flaws of HR811/S559 that would need to be fixed:

Monday, March 05, 2007

2 county officials back paper trail for vote machines

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity

A report in PDF mathematically analyzes the election audits proposed by the US Congress and finds that they would not protect all US House races; and proposes alternatives:

From: National Election Data Archive, Park City, UT
Contact: Kathy Dopp, President, NEDA 435-658-4657

To require voter-verified permanent paper ballots and increase voter confidence and accessibility, U.S. Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida have sponsored virtually identical bills (HR811 and S559) that are intended to correct some of the significant, if unintended consequences of the
Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Election officials in most states have not subjected election results to independent outside audits – manual counts of randomly-selected voter-verified paper ballots.

Tiered election audits are audits which manually count more precincts in close races. When a race is close, a small number of miscounted votes can alter the outcome and a robust audit is needed to find miscounts which could be hidden in a few precincts. While there are several identified concerns with the Holt and Nelson bills, Kathy Dopp, President of National Election Data Archive, and NEDA have released a report "Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity" evaluating the sufficiency of the Holt and Nelson audit provisions, as shown in the table.

HR811 and S559 election audit provisions ignore the variety in the amount of precincts in U.S. House districts. For example, a 10% audit in an 800-precinct House district requires an audit of 80 precincts, whereas a 10% audit in a 150-precinct House district triggers an audit of only 15 precincts, resulting in statistically insufficient power to detect miscounts in a close race where fewer than 1 in 15 miscounted precincts could alter the outcome.

A group of university professors wrote a letter in support of Holt's audit proposal, "Thoughts on Mandatory Audits". Dopp's says that her calculations agree with the professors' for the few cases that the professors evaluated but that their analysis was restricted only to U.S. House races with 400 total precinct vote counts for only a few selected margins; and did not consider House races with closer margins or smaller number of precincts.

"Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity" shows how to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed election audits by plotting colorful charts of the probabilities for protecting race with particular margins between the leading candidates against the total number of precincts for Congressional districts.

According to Dopp, the Holt and Nelson audit provisions would not protect many U.S. House races where "protected" means that there is at least a 50% chance of discovering miscount under the assumption that sufficient miscount exists to alter an outcome.

"Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity" suggests alternatives designed to protect all U.S. House races, including an alternative to fix the Holt and Nelson audit by requiring minimum numbers of precincts to be audited. To protect all U.S. House races, a larger audit rate is necessary for districts with a fewer precincts.

As with all legislation, cost is a consideration. Therefore an accurate cost estimate for conducting nation-wide manual audits of federal elections is needed. Dopp says that Congressional staffers asked her to calculate cost estimates for nationwide audits of federal elections, but that election data, including the margins and number of total precincts for all recent U.S. House and Senate races, is necessary for each state and for recent elections in order to perform the calculations.

Unfortunately states are not required to collect or make publicly available precinct-level election results (or other detailed vote counts, data, or election records that are necessary for public oversight over election integrity) so that this data required for calculating an accurate cost estimate for election auditing for Congress is very difficult to obtain and must be obtained from an organization like Election Data Services which has been collecting it laboriously from numerous jurisdictions for years, and can extract it from their databases.

Kathy Dopp, President of National Election Data Archive, recently met with Congressional staff in Washington DC to recommend changes to the proposed federal election integrity bills - statistically valid election audits and public access to election records and data necessary for citizen oversight.

Tax-deductible donations to defray the $1,500 cost to obtain the data for a cost estimate for conducting audits of all federal elections from Election Data Services are accepted at Please help us give Congress a good cost estimate for conducting nationwide audits of federal elections.

The report "Fool Me Once: Checking Vote Count Integrity" can be found at:

This release in pdf format with chart and table can be found at:

People are urged to contact their U.S. Senators and Representative, send them the report, and ask them to support sufficient nationwide audits of federal elections to protect all U.S. House and Senate races. See and