Kiss Election Reform Goodbye

All you progressives out there will be happy to learn that S. 1487, the Ballot Integrity Act--which has the goal of a verifiable paper trail for every single vote in any upcoming election--is apparently being killed. By Diane Feinstein. It just makes me sick. I'm pasting the entire contents of an email from Kathy Dopp, at UScountvotes.org, sent this morning. After that, i've included a copy of my letter of comment for the public record to Feinstein. The deadline to receive comments is 5 pm today, so if any of you are so inclined, please copy my letter and edit it for yourself and send it along to sue_wright@rules.senate.gov and the others on the committee.

What is Happening in the US Senate?

Wednesday July 25th S1487 Senate Hearing -

Tuesday Deadline to Submit Testimony

The National Election Data Archive is sending out this first in a two-part alert, to let people know that election reform is endangered in both the US House and US Senate; and to ask everyone to make a small effort this week and next week to achieve integrity in the 2008 election.

According to The New York Times, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said she has decided against seeking any major changes in voting equipment before 2010.

"My sense is there's no way to get this thing in place by the election of 2008," Ms. Feinstein said. "Without adequate time, we could cause real problems in the election."

On July 25th, 2007, at 10:00 AM, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will hold hearings on S. 1487, the Ballot Integrity Act.

The Senate Rules Committee hearing scheduled for July 25 has a very unbalanced list of participants. The list is heavily weighted with unapologetic opponents of voter verified paper ballots. They selected Michael Shamos to give testimony while ignoring more respected experts in computer science and mathematics. Shamos is noted for saying, "...I believe I and the republic will survive if a president is elected who was not entitled to the office."

The Senate hearings fail to include any recognized experts who support a tangible record of the vote. For the hearing to have any balance at all, recognized electronic voting experts should be included. Creditable voting system experts who should be included in this panel: Dr. David Dill of Stanford, the founder of the Verified Voting Foundation and VerifiedVoting.org, and Dr Barbara Simons, former President of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest association of computing professionals.

Wednesday witnesses for Senate Hearing

The hearing will consist of 2 panels, with the following witnesses testifying:

Panel 1:

The Honorable Deborah L. Markowitz, Vermont Secretary of State, Montpelier, VT
(Representing National Association of Secretaries of State)

Mr. George N. Gilbert, Director, Guilford County Board of Elections, Greensboro, NC

Ms. Wendy Noren, Boone County Clerk, Columbia, MO
(Representing National Association of Counties)

Dr. Michael I. Shamos, Professor, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Mr. Ray Martinez, Policy Adviser, The Pew Center on the States, Former Member, Election Assistance Commission, Austin, TX

Panel 2:

Ms. Mary Wilson, President, League of Women Voters, Washington, DC

Mr. Doug Lewis, Executive Director, The Election Center, Houston, TX

Ms. Tanya Clay House, Director of Public Policy, People for the American Way, Washington, DC

Talking Points

According to the NY Times, Congress is considering postponing the replacement of any existing flawed DRE equipment (even paperless DREs) until 2012 which means that no manual counts of Voter verifiable paper ballots can be required to check machine counts until 2012.

The MOST CRUCIAL thing for 2008 is to require independent audits - manual counts of voter verifiable paper ballot records. Without 2008 deadlines for replacing paperless DREs and requiring valid manual audits, New Mexico would be the only state which conducts independent manual checks of unofficial machine outcomes in 2008. A few other states, like California and North Carolina, would conduct some publicly held hand counts to check the accuracy of their machine vote counts. A few other states conduct election audits after the outcomes are certified or conduct internal sham audits which do not verify the accuracy of the unofficial tallies.

Moving all HR811's deadlines to 2012 would leave us wide-open to vote fraud and miscount switching who wins office in 2008. Software disclosure is complex and takes many years to accomplish in any meaningful way and could be properly addressed in federal legislation in 2009 and beyond if election results in 2008 are accurate.

DRE voting machines:

1. are more expensive to use than opti-scan machines. Some the DRE paper-printers come at a price tag of some $2000 apiece. DREs w/ printers cost much more than paper ballot opscan systems. The costs for adding cash-register receipts to current DRE voting systems exceeds the costs of replacing DRE voting systems with opti-scan paper ballot voting systems within 4 years.

2. do not provide accessibility for as many disabled voters as ballot marking devices like the AutoMARK,

3. do not provide the ability to verify the accuracy of paper ballot records for disabled voters

4. create longer lines

5. violate all voters' privacy by storing ballot records in sequential order, the same order as voters enter each polling booth. It particularly violates the privacy of voters with disabilities who must all vote on the same DRE machine outfitted for voters with disabilities and have all their ballots stored on the same DRE paper roll.

5. subject voters to Denial of Service attacks

6. make elections vulnerable to touch-screen calibration and touch-screen delay problems which switch votes to the wrong candidates

7. can be used by hackers to subvert election audits

8. make elections vulnerable to electronic failures, power outages, and hacking

9. have been shown in every independent audit so far to inaccurately record votes

10. paper-roll ballot records fail to accurately record votes according to recent tests in New Jersey, "Tests Find Flaws in Printer Performance, Could Jeopardize Election Accuracy". "If a mechanical error or malfunction occurs (such as a paper jam, running out of paper, paper torn in half, or paper inserted improperly), the DRE displays an error message on the screen to the voter, but no warning signals are sent to notify the election officials at the polling place. The DRE does not suspend voting operations. The voter has the opportunity to continue voting and cast the vote but the paper record is not printed. The vote is, however, electronically recorded.... "print-and-disappear-from-view" feature. E-voting systems can print erroneous paper records to match erroneous electronic records, despite every effort of voters to ensure that it does not. Here is how it works in practice on New Jersey: When you are just about ready to cast your vote after marking your choices on the electronic voting machine, the system prints a voter-verifiable paper record -- so that you can review it, and affirm that your choices were accurately recorded. If you felt it was incorrect, you can "cancel" that record and go back to any of the contests on the ballot using the electronic machine, and re-select. Ready again to cast your ballot? Checking the paper record, you see it still doesn't reflect what you want. You cancel a second time. Now you're on your last try, so you mark your choices carefully. You're ready to cast, but the voter-verified paper record prints -- and then quickly drops into the locked receptacle, too quickly for you to have the opportunity to review it." https://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/article.php?id=6488

11. are susceptible to malicious undetectable subversion of elections in ways even audits cannot detect, and

12. inaccurately record votes as shown in every independent election audit so far

Just why do our election officials want us to pay for a computer for doing what takes able-bodied voters 10 minutes perhaps once/year.

Not requiring paper ballots because some voters have disabilities that prevent them from seeing and verifying paper ballots, would be like banning fire hydrants because fire hydrants are not accessible for persons with disabilities.

We need YOU to ACT NOW to ask that there are 2008 deadlines for replacing paperless DRE voting machines and for requiring independent manual audits.

Talking Points

Elections must

1. be publicly verifiably accurate, and

2. allow all legally registered voters a convenient opportunity to vote

We need election reform that requires:

1. Pre-printed paper ballots and paper sign-in systems for all voters at polling locations in case of electronic failures

2. Independent manual counts of voter-verified paper ballots sufficiently to ensure correct machine counts of election outcomes

3. Public scrutiny of ballot security procedures

4. Public access to election records necessary to verify the integrity of independent manual counts

It is JULY 2007. The November 2008 election is 16 months away. It takes most states from 6 months to one year to replace voting systems. Almost every jurisdiction already uses opti-scan paper ballots for mail-in absentee ballot and overseas voting, so training requirements would be minimal. (1) there is enough time and (2) there is enough equipment

Take These Actions NOW

1. Submit your public testimony to Senator Feinstein for the Wednesday, July 25 Rules and Administration Committee Hearing on S 1487 fax Sue Wright 202 224 5400 - MUST be received by Tuesday 5PM and it will be included in official record - or send email to:


stating before your comments this is for the record and including your name, organization, address, and other pertinent contact information, and that it should be submitted by 5 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday.

Indicate that you are providing testimony or comments for submission into the record of S1487 hearings.

Please include this list of recommendations for amendments to S1487. These are ordered from the most widely supported election reform measures beginning on page one. So simply print and fax as many pages as you agree with, to the Rules Committee Members and to your own Senators:

and these arguments against some of S1487's current provisions:

2. Contact Senator Feinstein's office now regarding the shortage of credible participants with the appropriate expertise in math and computers science testifying in the hearing panels.
Senator Feinstein's number is 202/224-3841.


3. Attend the Hearing to receive testimony on S. 1487, the Ballot Integrity Act (Sen. Feinstein) if you can make it to Washington DC, 10 am EDT on Wednesday, July 25th 2007. . Travel to Washington DC to speak with your Senators and with the Senators on the Rules Committee.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
Hearing to receive testimony on S. 1487, the Ballot Integrity Act of 2007


"....Hearings are held in Room 301, Russell Senate Office Building (unless otherwise noted), 1st Street and Constitution Avenues, North East, Washington, DC 20510. Seating is available on a first come, first serve basis. Eastern Time Zone listed. Times and location are subject to change.

Map of Russell Senate Office Building surrounding area


4. View Wednesday's Hearing Live "TODAY'S http://rules.senate.gov/hearings/live.ram hearing. (available on July 25th at approximately 9:50 a.m. ET) ...."

If you want any shield against election fraud that could put the wrong persons in control of Congress and in the President's office in 2009, now is the time to call your US Representative to support HR811 with 2008 deadlines for replacing all paperless DREs and conducting independent checks of election results;

5. Contact your Senators, the Bill Sponsors, and the Senate Rules committee members and tell them what you want or tell them that you want these amendments to S1487:


Ask your US Senators now to require 2008 deadlines for replacing paperless DREs and implementing independent valid manual election audits are preserved in HR811 and that S1487 is amended to match HR811.

Call one of these free numbers and urge both your Senators to support meaningful election reform:
1 (800) 828 - 0498 or
1 (800) 614 - 2803 or
1 (866) 338 - 1015 or
1 (877) 851 - 6437 for the Capitol Switchboard Operator Ask for your senator, for ex., Senator Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama, or Diane Feinstein, etc. Ask to speak to or leave a message for your Senators' legislative staffers who handle election reform legislation issues; and please mail, email, or fax copies of "21 Suggested Amendments" to their legislative staffers who handle election reform legislation, hopefully after speaking with them. Tell the office staff that you are a constituent of the Congressperson - give them your name, address and phone number - then urge them to work for meaningful election reform in 2008.

If you are not sure who your senators are, go to http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

If you want to citizen control over U.S. elections and have honest, accurate elections - ACT NOW. If you do not act soon, it could be too late for the 2008 federal election, and perhaps for restoring our democracy and control of Congress in 2009 could revert to those who want to preserve paperless un-audited elections where insiders have utter freedom to undetectably tamper in the most states.

Please make this small effort to preserve our US democracy.

Thank you for this small effort on your part. They need to hear from all of us. Please call and write today, then send this email to all the people you usually bother with this type of information. Thanks again.

As a 501(c)(3) the National Election Data Archive may spend a limited fraction of its income on efforts to lobby for election reform legislation. Therefore, we will be depending on you, the voters, to take these actions.

Please donate to our efforts so that we may continue to keep you informed and continue to develop and promote new measures for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of election outcomes:

Whom to Contact

Contact the Co-sponsors

Boxer, Barbara D-CA, http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.Home

Brown, Sherrod, D-OH, http://brown.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Clinton, Hillary Rodham D-NY, http://clinton.senate.gov/contact/

Dodd, Christopher J. D-CT, http://dodd.senate.gov/index.php?q=node/3130

Inouye, Daniel K. D-HI, http://inouye.senate.gov/

Kennedy, Edward M. D-MA, http://kennedy.senate.gov/senator/contact.cfm

Leahy, Patrick J. D-VT, http://leahy.senate.gov/ senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov

Menendez, Robert D-NJ, http://menendez.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Obama, Barack D-IL, http://obama.senate.gov/contact/

Sanders, Bernard, I-VT, http://sanders.senate.gov/comments/

Contact the Senate Rules Committee Members
Committee members can make the recommended amendments while the S1487 is being considered in committee

Robert C. Byrd, D-WV, http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_email.html

Daniel K. Inouye, D-HI, 202-224-3934 or http://inouye.senate.gov/

Christopher J. Dodd, D-CT, http://dodd.senate.gov/

Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, http://schumer.senate.gov/SchumerWebsite/contact/contact.html

Richard J. Durbin, D-IL, http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

E. Benjamin Nelson, D-NE, http://bennelson.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm

Harry Reid, D-NV, http://reid.senate.gov/contact/

Patty Murray, D-WA, http://murray.senate.gov/contact/

Mark L. Pryor, D-AR, http://pryor.senate.gov/contact/

Ted Stevens, R-AK, http://stevens.senate.gov/public/

Mitch McConnell, R-KY, http://mcconnell.senate.gov/contact.cfm

Thad Cochran, R-MS, http://cochran.senate.gov/contact.htm

Trent Lott, R-MS, http://lott.senate.gov/public/

Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX, http://hutchison.senate.gov/contact.html

C. Saxby Chambliss, R- GA, http://chambliss.senate.gov/public/index.cfm

Chuck Hagel, R-NE, http://hagel.senate.gov/

Lamar Alexander, R-TN, http://alexander.senate.gov/

More Information

Shamos Rebuttal by the Open Voting Consortium

The Ballot Integrity Act of 2007

A reliable, verifiable vote in 2008, Governor Bill Richardson

HR 811: Separating Truth from Fiction in E-voting Reform, Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 13, 2007

The Campaign for Secure Elections (HR811), Lawrence Norden, June 13, 2007

The "Ballot Integrity Act" Sponsor is Feinstein, Dianne, D-CA,

S1487 Text

National: Hearing to receive testimony on S. 1487, the Ballot Integrity Act by David Kibrick

Costs Comparison for Maryland: The costs for adding cash-register receipts to current DRE voting systems exceeds the costs of replacing DRE voting systems with opti-scan paper ballot voting systems within 4 years.

Letter to Congress asking for publicly verifiably accurate election outcomes that is signed by over 200 citizens:

Experts who can provide details and answer questions regarding
"Recommendations for Federal Legislation to Ensure the Integrity of our Democracy"

Concept Proposal for Federal Election Reform

Disability advocacy leaders co-signed this pro-paper statement on Voter Action.

How Long Does it Take to Change a Voting System? By Verified Voting

Accessibility Isn't Only Hurdle in Voting System Overhaul
By Christopher Drew The New York Times Saturday 21 July 2007

Overhaul Plan for Vote System Will Be Delayed
By Christopher Drew The New York Times, Friday 20 July 2007

Congress puts off fixing touch-screen voting, Salon.com blog by Farhad Manjoo

ESI Audit Shows 10% of cash-register-receipt type ballot records compromised
"The Coming Paper-Trail Debacle?" by Dan Seligson, electionline.org August 18th, 2006

First U.S. Scientific Election Audit Reveals Voting System Flaws
But Questions Remain Unanswered - Critique of the "Collaborative Public Audit"
of Cuyahoga County Ohio's November 2006 Election. May 7, 2007 by Kathy Dopp

New Jersey: Tests find flaws in printer performance, could jeopardize election accuracy
by Pamela Smith, Verified Voting Foundation, July 22nd, 2007

Kathy Dopp
Executive Director, National Election Data Archive
435.658.4657 (office)


My letter:

Dear Senator Feinstein:

My comments below are for the public record for the
above referenced Committee Hearing on the Bill for
election reform, The Ballot Integrity Act.

I am:

Charles Van Nostrand
308 xxxxx Street
Athens OH 45701
740 xxx xxxx

I read in the New York Times that you have decided
that any major changes in reform intiatives is
unachievable before the 2008 elections. I am VERY
disappointed to hear this, and moreover, I am most
disappointed that i've heard those providing testimony
tomorrow are heavily anti-reform.

I read that one of the experts providing testimony is
Michael Shamos, who has been noted for saying "...I
believe that the republic will survive if a president
is elected who was not entitled to the office."

I have also heard from Kathy Dopp, a respected
statistician and fellow concerned citizen about this
hearing. I have been in contact with Dopp and her
organization, UScountvotes.org, for many years now. I
hear from her that not one credible expert in the
field of computer science or mathematics or statistics
is included for testimony. I understand that Michael
Shamos is the only person providing testimony from the
field of computer science, and his support of reform
must be dubious at best.

Senator Feinstein, why on Earth is this? Why does it
seem that you are bending your "expert" committee to
fit the decision you have already, apparently, made?
Why do i have the creeping feeling that it is not only
the Bush Administration that bends intelligence to fit
policy that has already been decided upon? Are
respected, progressive leaders like you, Senator
Feinstein, guilty of this too?

And what will it take to clean it all up?

I am very disappointed that you've decided that
election reform is unachievable, and that you are
apparently killing it in all the small ways visible to
me like your selection of "experts" for testimony

What a grand waste of time and our collective
resources. Again.


C.S. Van Nostrand


thephoenixnyc said...

WOW you put a lot of reserach and work into all this Sam. VERY impressive. Me, I'm giving this country one more election, if things don't change I am moving top the freer country of...China.

Sam said...

Hi Phoenix, don't be fooled. I'm just cutting and pasting to get the stuff out there... lots of others did all the work. Too bad there's not a part of China that is like California climate-wise. If only we could just run away from the corruption here.

Fight the H8 in Your State