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July 5, 2006
The League of Women Voters Supports Voter-Verifiable Paper Trails
For a long time, the League of Women Voters (LWV) had been on the wrong side of the electronic voting machine issue. They were in favor of electronic machines, and didn't see the need for voter-verifiable paper trails. (They use to have a horrid and misleading Q&A about the issue on their website, but it's gone now. Barbara Simons published a rebuttal, which includes their original Q&A.)
The politics of the LWV are byzantine, but basically there are local leagues under state leagues, which in turn are under the national (LWVUS) league. There is a national convention once every other year, and all sorts of resolutions are passed by the membership. But the national office can do a lot to undercut the membership and the state leagues. The politics of voting machines is an example of this.
At the 2004 convention, the LWV membership passed a resolution on electronic voting called "SARA," which stood for "Secure, Accurate, Recountable, and Accessible." Those in favor of the resolution thought that "recountable" meant auditable, which meant voter-verifiable paper trails. But the national LWV office decided to spin SARA to say that recountable does not imply paper. While they could no longer oppose paper outright, they refused to say that paper was desirable. For example, they held Georgia's system up as a model, and Georgia uses paperless Diebold DRE machines. It makes you wonder if the LWVUS leadership is in someone's pocket.
So at the 2006 convention, the LWV membership passed another resolution. This one was much more clearly worded: designed to make it impossible for the national office to pretend that the LWV was not in favor of voter-verified paper trails.
Unfortunately, the League of Women Voters has not issued a press release about this resolution. (There is a press release by VerifiedVoting.org about it.) I'm sure that the national office simply doesn't want to acknowledge the membership's position on the issue, and wishes the issue would just go away quietly. It's a pity; the resolution is a great one and worth publicizing.
Here's the text of the resolution:
Resolution Related to Program Requiring a Voter-Verifiable Paper Ballot or Paper Record with Electronic Voting Machines
Motion to adopt the following resolution related to program requiring a voter-verified paper ballot or paper record with electronic voting systems.
Whereas: Some LWVs have had difficulty applying the SARA Resolution (Secure, Accurate, Recountable and Accessible) passed at the last Convention, and
Whereas: Paperless electronic voting systems are not inherently secure, can malfunction, and do not provide a recountable audit trail,
Therefore be it resolved that:
The position on the Citizens' Right to Vote be interpreted to affirm that LWVUS supports only voting systems that are designed so that:
- they employ a voter-verifiable paper ballot or other paper record, said paper being the official record of the voter¹s intent; and
- the voter can verify, either by eye or with the aid of suitable devices for those who have impaired vision, that the paper ballot/record accurately reflects his or her intent; and
- such verification takes place while the voter is still in the process of voting; and
- the paper ballot/record is used for audits and recounts; and
- the vote totals can be verified by an independent hand count of the paper ballot/record; and
- routine audits of the paper ballot/record in randomly selected precincts can be conducted in every election, and the results published by the jurisdiction.
By the way, the 2006 LWV membership also voted on a resolution in favor of net neutrality (the Connecticut league issued a press release, because they spearheaded the issue), and one against the death penalty. The national LWV office hasn't issued a press release about those two issues, either.
Posted on July 5, 2006 at 1:32 PM
• 20 Comments
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In the Netherlands one election fraud was detected using electronic voting machines.
A dutch article about this is here, this is from a local trustworthy newspaper:
I will try to summarize:
In a home for sick and elderly people, one man got 181 votes, whereas in the rest of the community he only got 11 votes. The man was actually operating the electronic voting machine himself!
The mayor of the community decided to take action, after a voluntary, blind, paper poll was carried out in the neighborhood. Without disclosing actual numbers, there must have been a siginificant difference between the 181 votes he got according to the machine, and the non-official poll. The poll had asked anybody that could have voted there, and more than 90% of them responded.
Even a few days after these elections (held in March), there were already questions asked about who was operating the machine.
The article also mentions one potential method how this could've been done: by switching a key, the operator can render the machine in a test-mode, where it will operate correctly, but will not recognize the vote. The manual counting (which also happens) of the number of people entering the room will require as many results, so the person operating the machine can then assign these to himself.
I do not know the brand of these machines, I do know that the machines used in the Netherlands do not output a paper trail.
My two cents,
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