8.21.2006

A Press Release That WON't Make Headlines Tomorrow: The Most Important Issue Facing Americans Today

In my humble opinion, the most important issue facing any of us is whether or not we have free and fair elections. If we no longer have elections as a means of expression of our collective will, we are pretty much fucked. Have we crossed the threshold into fascist territory? We certainly are ruled by an elite that thinks it can, should, and will make up voting results, just as it feels it controls and owns all public opinion, journalistic outlets, and ability to disseminate "news" (remember all that crap about "Framing the Message" after the 2004 election?). Anyhoo, trying not to be too negative here, but--same as going online to check my bank records--somebody better come up with a way to make election results checkable by each and every voter, or there is going to be an, uhm, run on the bank. 92% is a pretty strong statement...seems like maybe there aren't so many stupid lambs out there as you think, Karl? Hmmm, maybe there is an accountability moment coming, George? Or maybe it's birth pangs of a new give-a-shitness sweeping the land, Condi? The last throes of a corrupt neo con job, Dick? We are all out here, Rummy, up here in Ohio and California and New York and Nebraska. And we are watching.

Check it out:

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PRESS RELEASE August 21, 2006, Park City, UT

92% of Americans Oppose Secret Vote Counting; Favor Public's Right to
Know In Elections
By Kathy Dopp

A new Zogby poll will be released on Tuesday reveals that fully 92%
of every single demographic group in American favors the public's
right to observe vote counting and to obtain any information regarding
vote counting, according an August 12-15 Zogby telephone poll of
approximately 1200 likely voters nationwide.
One actual survey question and answers is:

"In some states, members of the public have the right to view the
counting of votes and verify how that process is working. In other
states, citizens are in effect barred from viewing vote counting even
if they would like to view the process. Which of the following two
statements are you more likely to agree with A or B?"

Statement A: Citizens have the right to view and obtain information
about how election officials count votes.
92%

Statement B: Citizens do not have the right to view and obtain
information about how elections officials count votes.
6%

Neither/Not sure
2%

The survey was commissioned by election protection attorney Paul Lehto
of Washington State. According to Lehto, "The public overwhelmingly
opposes secret vote counting and favors election transparency and the
public right to know."

Here in Utah, our Utah election officials are out of touch with the
public, as shown by this new Zogby poll. Utah Lt. Governor's office
implemented state-wide voting systems with secret ("proprietary")
programming code and decertified Utah's former paper voting systems to
force counties to adopt new electronic ballots that are not humanly
viewable.

Bruce Funk of Emery County, Utah invited computer security experts to
examine Utah's new voting machines in March, 2006. The findings were
reported in the New York Times on May 12, 2006. The security flaws
that Funk found caused PA and CA to issue urgent security directives
and Avi Rubin, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins
University said "I almost had a heart attack. The implications of
this are pretty astounding" and Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon
University said "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in
a voting system". Yet Utah's Lt. Governor's office reacted by holding
a closed executive session meeting with Diebold officials and Emery
County officials, after which the doors on Bruce Funk's office were
locked to prevent this 23 year elected official from doing the job he
was elected for. The minutes of their secret meeting have yet to be
publicly released.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where Salt Lake County's former election
official Michael Vu now officiates, it was found that 15% of the paper
ballot records did not match Diebold touch-screen electronic counts in
the recent primary. According to Kitty Pilgrim, CNN correspondent,
"The May primary election in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, using Diebold
electronic voting machines was a debacle."

The only way to be sure that electronic counts are correct is to count
the voter verifiable paper records. Yet, the Salt Lake Tribune on
July 7, 2006 quoted Utah Election Director Michael Cragun saying that
a recount would consist of reconciling the electronic polling place
records by "re-accumulating the memory cards" and "The permanent paper
record comes into play only in an extreme situation."

Counting the paper roll ballot records by hand to verify the accuracy
of electronic counts requires equipment called "paper roll advancers".
Yet Utah election officials have not purchased any paper roll
advancers; have not purchased the equipment required to install a
known clean software system on Diebolds; and have kept Utah's security
procedures a secret. "Security by obscurity" is a formula for insider
tampering.

Utah election officials have actively worked against the transparency
in elections that the public overwhelmingly wants. The US
Constitution created a government with checks and balances, not a
system of blind trust in the infallibility and good intentions of
others. Yet Utah election officials implemented a new "faith-based"
voting system which lets private companies secretly count unseen
electronic ballots and determine outcomes of elections without any
checks.

These nearly unanimous Zogby poll results bolster efforts to convince
the Utah Lt. Governor's Office that the public recognizes this as a
crisis on which they must act to change our election conditions. The
staff of the Lt. Governor's office should be willing to admit the
problems inherent with the secret vote counting machines and consult
with expert computer scientists and mathematicians to develop methods
to ensure our election outcome integrity.

In concert with Tuesday's full announcement of the Zogby poll, the
National Election Data Archive has developed a new method for ensuring
election outcome integrity. In this new paper to be released soon by
the National Election Data Archive "The Election Integrity Audit"
NEDA's releases a new method for calculating audit amounts -- hand
counting of ballots done to check the accuracy of vote tallying
machines—that would reveal any corrupted vote counts that could
wrongfully alter any election outcome.

According to NEDA, a fixed rate audit of 1 or 2% or even 5% is not
capable of detecting outcome-altering vote miscount in close races.
This is extremely relevant given the enormous financial and legal
barriers to bringing a challenge to a close election. Attached to
NEDA's paper is a computer algorithm and spreadsheet that offers
readers the ability to calculate, for particular races and elections
the audit size to detect vote total corruption. NEDA recommends that
their new calculation be adopted as the standard for calculating
election audit percentages.

It is from the "Consent of the Governed", according to the Declaration
of Independence, that government derives "Just Power." It is time for
state and county election officials to listen to the public and make
Utah's election process publicly transparent and verifiable.

Kathy Dopp, kathy@ElectionArchive.org
National Election Data Archive, President
P.O. Box 682556, Park City, UT 84068
435-658-4657 http://ElectionArchive.org

This press release can be found online at:

http://utahcountvotes.org/docs/ZogbyTransparencyPoll.pdf
http://ElectionArchive.org/ucvInfo/release/ZogbyTransparencyPoll.pdf

3 comments:

Scott said...

Funny you should post this. Last week I was in a bit of a discussion with a friend of mine over the topic. We got onto it because of Cynthia McKinney's loss in the Democratic primary. McKinney, of course, claimed voter fraud over Georgia's electronic system (the same complaint she made the last time she lost her seat, which proved unfounded).

My friend on the other side of the debate is whole-heartedly against electronic voting systems and in favor of a paper-based system; an argument I simply cannot support. No one, after Florida's catastrophe, should support paper balloting in any way, shape, or form. Florida (process, post-election procedures, and posturing) was a humiliation. A paper receipt, yes, sure, but the accuracy, speed, and efficiency of an electronic system simply cannot be matched, especially in light of how large our national elections are (or could be, if people actually voted).

Are the Diebold systems faulty? Possibly. Is Utah correct in their policies? Definitely not. Is there a compromise? Most certainly.

I would like to see an open-sourced (read: not privately developed) version of voting machines made available whereby both sides (or however many sides there are, should we get a viable third or forth party) could retain the right individuals and audit the system to be certain it's not corrupt. Could this lead to fraud as intent parties manipulate a system they are now familiar with? Possibly. Conversely the transparency would enable the other side(s) to see the tampering of the first, should they look for it.

Such a system could produce a paper receipt, but as they stand now I think that Cragun is exactly correct that you don't do a paper re-count unless in an extreme situation. A call out to voters to produce their receipts in the case of a recount would only result in a cottage industry of basement voter receipt print houses and further not only damage the reputation of electronic systems, but the voting procedure itself.

Scott said...

I usually question the validity of polls in general. There's quite the descrepancy between the 100+ million votes in the 2000 election and the 1200-count sample in the poll.

Percentages are swell!

Anonymous said...

Scott, referencing Cynthia McKinney (my former rep and good ridence) does not help the argument. However, to question Diebold and the lack of traceablity of voting results is spot on. How the hell did they ever adopt electronic polling without a voter paper trail?! Although abuse would be difficult, if ever breached without a paper trail would be absolute ability to commit the biggest fraud of an election like a 3rd world country. The people need to rise up and demand a change.

Best regards,

Jeff

Hogalamahayga, Sam

Fight the H8 in Your State