Monday, November 9, 2009

US Troops as Internet Voting guinea pigs, Texas let voters eat cake, CO, NJ, NY, PA, TX, UT, VA and WA glitch snag reports

We're still seeing articles on Nov 3 voting problems... Ellen Theisen has updated Voters Unite's database on Voting Problems By State to the November elections. This database has been key evidence used to help get paper ballot laws passed in several states and was key to passing a law in my home state of North Carolina. So thank you Ellen!...

INTERNET VOTING WHACK-A-MOLE: Three states plan to use our troops as internet voting guinea pigs: We reported last week that Alabama Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton is re-introducing an internet/military voting bill. This week, we see that Colorado has passed legislation to allow internet voting pilots for military, and the pilots will be partially funded by "private" parties. Will these private parties be identified? Could any of these private parties have a conflict of interest?...Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth hopes to have their troops voting over the internet this December, 2008. Considering that Cyber Warfare is the weapon of choice now for China and North Korea, is this a good idea?...

Let them eat cake: In Texas an editorial board considers running out of ballots to be a mere 'hiccup'. If you are a voter being disenfranchised, it is hardly a hiccup, now is it? This wouldn't happen if Texas joined other states in requiring that enough ballots be printed for all voters. No voter should go to the polls and be told "I'm sorry, we don't have any ballots right now" and no voter should have to vote on a makeshift ballot. In Harris County Texas, it took a court order to make the voter registration office follow the law after impeding the registration of 66,000 people...Minneapolis Minnesota held its first instant runoff voting election and had the lowest voter turnout for mayor since 1910...In Lackawanna County PA, faulty computer coding cause of 2,452 straight ticket votes to go uncounted...860 ballots found in vandalized King Co. drop box...Plaintiffs Comment on Court Order regarding TN Voter Confidence Act...Miss an email or don't want to wait? See our
home page...

All of that and more in today's Voting News below...

AL: Commission OKs polling place changes (from schools to mostly churches)
November 5, 2009. Where voters go to cast their ballots in 2010 will undergo a major change as a result of action taken by the Morgan County Commission at a regular meeting Oct. 27.

The commission acted on a recommendation from Probate Judge Greg Cain to remove nine Decatur elementary schools from the county’s polling places list and replace them with alternate locations. The move is subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice and would become effective with the Primary Election next June.

In a discussion prior to the vote, District 2 Commissioner Ken Livingston said several of the new polling places are at churches and questioned if a violation of the separation of church and state could be involved.

AL: State may be on fast track to pass military voting bill (military internet voting) The Alabama military voting bill, House Bill 30, has
been pre-filed by Rep. Jimmy Martin, D-Clanton, for the legislative session that begins in January. He sponsored the bill last year as well.

CO: Colorado ranks high in its effort to count military ballots (Internet whack-a-mole)
11/06/2009... In June, Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law House Bill 1205, an overseas election reform measure introduced by Rep. Marsha Looper, R- Calhan, and endorsed by Colorado Secretary of State Bernie Buescher.
The legislation also approves a pilot program to allow overseas military personnel to vote via the Internet. The program, which is being studied, will be funded by grants and private contributions.

CO: Officials name possible 44 in voter fraud investigation
November 5, 2009. AURORA In the days after the 2008 election, Arapahoe County election officials gave prosecutors 44 names of voters who they believe may have voted more than once in last year’s presidential election.

After lengthy investigations, prosecutors last month brought charges against three people who they say voted twice last fall.

CT: Reminders from CTVotersCount, Secretary Bysiewicz and the Waterbury Republican
...Votes matter. Voters Matter Election Integrity Matters – just one machine programming error or manual transcription error can cause differences of hundreds or thousands of votes.

FL: Tea Party makes itself official in Florida
Tea party members in Florida now have a party to call their own.
Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning certified the Tea Party as an official minor political party, according to a Tea Party statement released Friday.
The Tea Party joins 31 other minor political parties certified by the state. Some of those parties include the Reform Party, Green Party, Real Food Party of the United States of America, Prohibition Party, Veterans Party of America, The Christian Party and Florida Socialist Workers Party.

FL: Voting-machine switch would cost county $450,000
November 08, 2009 PANAMA CITY — Florida’s voting tribulations in 2000 and 2006 led to the passage of legislation in 2007 that mandated paper ballots. Electronic Touch Screen voting systems, still used in Bay County and statewide for people with disabilities, are to be eliminated by 2012 elections

KS: Effort to vote takes determination … and a judge’s order
Stephen Wilson started voting a dozen years ago, when he was 18. Last November, while in National Guard training at Fort Benning, Ga., he made sure to send in an absentee ballot. Yet Tuesday, when he arrived at his Independence polling site on his way to work, poll workers told him his name did not appear on the rolls. He couldn’t vote, they said.

MA: Expanded bonus for combat vets gets an OK (push for internet voting this year)
No additional state funding is needed to provide the bonuses this year, according to David Falcone, spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth.
Mr. Falcone said depending on how quickly the state can set up a secure Internet voting system, Massachusetts service members may be able to vote over the Internet as soon as the Dec. 8 primaries for the special U.S. Senate election.

[What about the threat of Cyber Warfare from China and North Korea that is in the news and reports? Is internet voting a good idea for our troops.

See : Computer Technologists' statement on internet voting

MD: Elections chief disputes claims by SAVEourVotes representative
...“I’d say the real story is why election officials are fighting the switch to the new op-scan system,” Joseph said. “The sad part is that we have a state Board of Elections which is at (best) resigned — but not philosophically aligned — with implementing the system that was voted in by the legislature. It will be interesting to follow to see if something that was legislatively mandated does not happen.”
[the elections chief is using the tired old claims that have been disproven with many cost studies of actual real elections. Several well done cost studies archived here at Voters Unite ]

MN: An underwhelming election ( lowest voter turnout since 1910)
What if they gave an election and nobody came? Well, almost nobody came to the City Election last Tuesday. R. T. Rybak got 73 percent of the vote for Mayor,
but that was only 33,217 votes. That’s the smallest amount a winning candidate has gotten running for Mayor since 1910. Rybak’s total was less than 15 percent of the number of registered voters. In the last three municipal elections the LOSING candidates for Mayor polled almost as high as Rybak’s winning total: 2005-25,807; 2001-30,896; 1997-42, 530.

Why was the turnout so low? Some people blame Instant Runoff Voting. Not because it’s complicated and that might have turned people off. It’s not that complicated. It’s actually quite simple, but some people feel that canceling the Primary Election denied voters an opportunity to see a dress rehearsal of the main stage production.

MN: St. Paul Politics / Judge rules instant-runoff campaign should go on trial
Vote-no group accuses vote-yes group of lying about endorsements
11/08/2009 A judge ruled Friday that there is probably cause to believe an allegation the campaign behind the successful instant-runoff voting ballot question in St. Paul broke state laws by claiming endorsements of President Barack Obama, the state Democratic Party and the St. Paul League of Women Voters.

The ruling by Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy sends the matter to a three-judge panel, which will hear arguments similar to a trial.
Chuck Repke, a St. Paul activist who filed a complaint shortly before the election with the state Office of Administrative Hearings, has another take. "This campaign won by lying about it,

Complaints against IRV campaign will get hearing
November 9th, 2009 Complaints that supporters of instant-runoff voting misled St. Paul voters will be heard by a three-judge panel. Administrative Law Judge Kathleen Sheehy ruled on Friday that sufficient evidence exists that the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign violated state statutes to merit a full hearing on the matter.

MN: Court documents from that Friday hearing:

NJ: Voter mixup gains officials' attention *(voter disenfranchisement by poss fraud)
The head of Camden County's Board of Elections said Thursday it will take at least another week to sort out the reports of voters being tricked into casting a ballot by mail.

A number of voters in Camden and other Camden County communities showed up at polling sites on Tuesday only to be told they already had voted by mail-in ballot, said Robert Venuti, chairman of the Camden County Board of Elections.
...Erik Solivan, a Rutgers-Camden law student who monitored the city polls through the university's Voters Rights Project, said nearly all of the roughly 100 provisional ballots the project tallied were cast by voters who supposedly had requested mail-in ballots.

NY: New York City letter to NY State Board of Elections:*(DS 200 and Dominion accept photocopied ballots)...During a staff exercise last week to test various poll site flows for these new systems, the staff inadvertently discovered that both the Dominion and ES&S scanners that we currently have at our office accepted and counted ballots that the staff photocopied from original test ballots and then used to mark votes.
The potential ability to use photocopies of
ballots and have votes on those copies raises obvious and serious ballot security concerns regarding the integrity of the potential new voting system that the city's 4.6 million registered voters will use in future elections.

NY: Sheriff candidate: Ballot error cost votes* (Levers)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jason Longton, the third-party candidate who lost the county sheriff election to James Bowen, thinks a malfunctioning voting machine in the Spa City could have cost him some votes and may be indicative of a larger issue.

County Commissioner of Elections William Fruci says the problem was resolved quickly and that no voters were disenfranchised.

The 80th voter attempting to vote on the machine at the Wesley Community Tuesday notified poll officials that the paper ballot was misaligned with the levers, making him unable to vote for Longton. It is not clear if the problem had existed for the first 79 voters too, or if the paper had just shifted.

“The machine was shut down immediately and we went into our emergency mode and followed everything according to procedure,” Fruci said. Voters were supplied with emergency paper ballots while a voting machine technician realigned the paper.

OH: Exclusive: Mike Connell's Family Copes With His Mysterious Death, Tipsters, Legal Options
...Connell was also considered a key witness in the election fraud lawsuit King Lincoln Bronzeville Neighborhood Association v. Blackwell. The suit implicates Former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth J. Blackwell, Karl Rove and others of 2004 election night vote rigging.

OR: Online voter registration coming to Oregon
Secretary of State gives Clackamas County commissioners a progress report

PA: Election results in question after voting machine glitch discovered *
November 6, 2009 A glitch in Lackawanna County voting machines might have cost Councilwoman Janet Evans and tax collector candidate Bill Courtright as many as 2,452 votes each, and is spurring questions about the accuracy of other counts.

Director of Elections Maryann Spellman Young blamed the glitch on a lack of specific computer coding for straight-party voting by the machine manufacturer, Elections Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.
Election officials checked a summary of vote totals and found no party designation next to the names of Mrs. Evans and Mr. Courtright, who also had both nominations. Election Systems & Software checked and found the proper coding missing.

TN: Plaintiffs Comment on Court Order regarding TN Voter Confidence Act
...The court issued a conclusion of law that the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, signed into law in 2008, does not require new ballot scanners to be certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission to 2005 voting system standards. The law requires all counties to replace paperless touch screen voting machines with optical ballot scanners by November 2010.
In ruling, the Chancellor held that the defendants are “obligated to take prompt, effective steps to meet the statutory deadline” as long as their choice of standards “does not jeopardize meeting the legislative mandate to implement …. on or before the November 2010 general election.”

TX: County had real problems with voter registration
Nov. 6, 2009 ...“the specified changes in the tax-office
procedures for handling registration applications make it clear that the
original complaints were anything but frivolous.”
Nearly 66,000 more Harris County applications did not result in immediate
registration than in Dallas County.
In their place, Harris County taxpayers deserve new leadership and a voter registration office that doesn't need a court order to encourage participation by all citizens. Richie is chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

TX: Voter turnout higher than expected in Johnson County, officials say* (ran out of ballots) November 06, 2009
Voter turnout in Johnson County for Tuesday’s constitutional amendment election was higher than expected, said Patty Bourgeois, Johnson County Elections administrator.

...But voting locations at the Burleson Sub Courthouse, Cana Baptist Church in Burleson and Joshua High School ran out of ballots toward the end of voting hours, Bourgeois said.

“We go by a formula the state uses to determine the number of ballots to order for an election,” Bourgeois said. “I used that and rounded up so we’d have some extra ballots. Voting was slow in the morning but picked up and got busy the last few hours in those and a few other locations. I know TEA Party activity was heavy in Burleson, which might have had something to do with it, or it could be just heavier turnout than expected.”

The elections office had to recreate ballots, which had to be stamped, numbered and hand counted, Bourgeois said.

Officials ran out of ballots twice at the Joshua location, said Wynne Loveless, an election judge working the site.

They ran out at 4:15 p.m. and received more just as they were passing the last two out, Loveless said.

That shipment lasted until about 5:15 p.m., Loveless said, causing voters to wait almost an hour for a new shipment.

TX: Editorial: Glitch does little to spoil election
Cleburne Times-Review. The one hiccup was the lack of sufficient numbers of ballots for the constitutional amendment election

TX: Houston man refuses to vote electronically, proceeds to go home and complain on the Internet
November 5, 2009 ..."I was told I cant vote because I refuse to use the computers so I was denied the right to vote," Rich wrote on the Hands Up Houston message board, according to the Houston Press. "I have filed a complaint."

In a follow-up with the Press, Rich said his protest wasn't due to a computer allergy but instead because he is skeptical of computer voting.

UT: Ogden, Weber County pretty sure one of them can't count ... ballots *
Nov 4 2009 OGDEN -- Weber County and Ogden officials are bickering over who is to blame for a lengthy delay in counting city ballots during Tuesday's general election.
However, because of some programming issues and problems with an automatic ballot feeder, the city's votes weren't counted until about midnight Tuesday and results weren't posted on the city's Web site until about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, Mansell said.
In addition, an automatic feeder kept jamming, which meant ballots had to be inserted into the device by hand, Berrett said. "Hand-feeding was a slower process."

VA: Editorial: Minor election problems add up *
Montgomery County election officials had several problems this year that demand further investigation
...The first problem hit a weeks ago when the office was late sending out absentee ballots
A faulty equation in a spreadsheet delayed reporting results. It took several hours to isolate and fix the problem.
Things went less well with one school board race. Someone keyed in an incorrect number resulting in candidate Leonard Session being reported the winner. When tabulators corrected the error, it turned out he had lost to Jamie Bond.
None was a major error, and Wertz's team quickly and appropriately addressed them. Nevertheless, the public deserves a fuller accounting of what happened. How, for example, did a mistake sneak into a spreadsheet that should have been created and tested months ago? And why had some turnout numbers not yet been reported days after the election?

WA: 860 ballots found in vandalized King Co. drop box*(vandalism possible tampering)
SEATTLE – Ballots found in a vandalized drop box could are creating new questions for the King County Elections Department, which has been dogged by controversy in recent years.

The ballots, about 860 of them, were found sometime Wednesday morning in a drop box at elections headquarters in Tukwila.

On Tuesday night at 8 p.m., elections workers placed a locking mechanism on the drop box, with the intent on collecting the ballots the next morning. But sometime between 12:30 and 5:30 a.m., someone ripped the lock off with considerable force.

WA: The Butterfly Ballot Effect * (ballot design)
11/05/2009 King County. Much has been made of the placement of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 on the King County ballot, somewhat hidden below the instructions on the left-hand side of the page, visually separated from the rest of the ballot questions.
So what’s to explain the fact that nearly one out of every ten King County ballots fail to register a vote for or against I-1033, a rate nearly two and a half times the statewide average? With 38 of our 39 counties now voting exclusively by mail, and most or all using the same mark sense technology, there can be only one explanation: poor ballot design… a visually confusing layout that inadvertently disenfranchised 7% of King County voters.
However pedestrian or accidental the cause, 42,000 King County voters were just disenfranchised, and yet we’ve heard nary a peep from the usual election reform suspects. Makes one wonder how much they really cherish our right


Voting Equipment and the Way Elections Are Run
November 7, 2009 (Aldo Tesi President and Chief Executive Election Systems and Software Omaha, Nov. 5, 2009, the biggest voting machine monopoly in the US, perhaps the world)
To the Editor:
“Trust, Antitrust and Your Vote” (editorial, Oct. 29) does a disservice by linking antitrust concerns with the integrity of the vote in the United States.

VOTERS UNITE.ORG Election Problem Log - 2004 to Date
VotersUnite! began this problem log with the November 2004 election. It continues its compilation of problems reported in the media by adding news stories about subsequent elections.


Iraqi election law passes
11/08/2009. It seems that the Iraqi Parliament has finally reached an agreement on an election law, after a succession of missed deadlines which jeopardized the scheduled January date and added a few more white hairs to the collective heads of American military planners and diplomats. The law reportedly features the "open list" and multiple district system favored by most American analysts.

Nigera: House Shelves Electronic Voting
11.07.2009. The House of Re-presentatives yesterday said Nigeria cannot afford to adopt the electronic voting system now because of the high level of illiteracy amongst the electorate, the challenge of epileptic power as well as the huge cost implications inherent in the project.

Voting News by Joyce McCloy.
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