Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friendly Paper Ballot Voting

Originally published in The Bridge last year, this piece remains useful in helping citizens understand how a paper ballot system will impact their voting experience. PBW

The Essential Voting Experience

Just the other day a friend asked me to describe the Paper Ballot/Optical Scan voting system that she has heard so much about. Having voted on the lever machines all her adult life, she was curious what it will be like to vote using the paper ballot system. I expect my friend is not the only citizen to wonder about such things.

Certainly the shift to a different voting system will bring changes but some aspects of the experience will remain very familiar. The voter will, of course, still have to be registered to vote and she will still have to sign in at the Election Inspector’s table upon entering the polling place. Eventually it may come to pass that the Inspectors will have access to the statewide electronic registration records and that might result in a different sign in procedure. In the near term, however, the voter will continue to sign in as we have done in the past. It is from this point on that the voter will experience some changes.

Instead of cueing up and waiting her turn at a voting machine, the voter will be given a paper ballot and be directed to take a seat at any one of several privacy booths in the polling area. One polling place this writer recently visited in Maine had over a dozen booths. The quantity of privacy booths needed will be dictated by the number of voters the polling place is intended to serve. Each privacy booth will have all necessary ballot instructions posted and will be equipped with the proper marking pen. Paper ballots vary but most simply require the voter to fill in a circle or complete an arrow to indicate their choices. There will likely be no time limit for the voter. She will be able to leisurely consider each ballot section, referring to the instructions as often as necessary, and taking as much time as she needs to make her choices.

When a voter has finished marking her ballot she simply deposits it in the ballot box before leaving the polling place. If a ballot scanner is being used to tally the votes, the voter would instead insert her ballot into the scanner. There is not likely to be any waiting at the ballot scanner as it takes less than three seconds for the machine to scan a ballot.

When a ballot scanner is used New York State law requires that the machine notify the voter of an undervote; that is the absence of a selection in one or more ballot positions. If the undervote was intentional the voter simply tells the scanner to accept the ballot as is. If unintentional the voter can return to a privacy booth to complete the ballot. The Election Law also requires a scanner to reject a ballot with an overvote (too many ballot selections in a position). A ballot rejected due to an overvote will be ejected by the machine. Corrections or erasures are not allowed, so a poll worker will assist the voter in obtaining a replacement ballot and the voter returns to a privacy booth to mark the new ballot. Scanned ballots are retained in a secure storage box under the machine, and because they are the official record of the election, are retained for a length of time to maintain their availability in the event of a recount.

One last observation concerning the voter’s experience in the polling place and the election process in general; When voting with a paper ballot a citizen enjoys a very personal and gratifying experience. She is issued her own personal ballot, a tangible document, which she marks with her own hand, and then deposits in the ballot box with her own hand. She leaves the polling place with no doubt as to how she voted. She read it, she marked it, she reviewed it, and she put it the locked ballot box herself. The only way she could claim any greater confidence as to the integrity of her vote would be to volunteer to be an election inspector and help count the ballots herself - which of course she can and should do along with many of her neighbors.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Will You Get To Vote?

Will You Get To Vote?
22 June 2007 by Wayne Stinson

For the past three years the Peacemakers Voting Integrity Project has been focused on the security of any new voting system election officials might choose. But there is a myriad of pitfalls which could affect your franchise.

We have learned, in part due to the efforts of Rep. John Conyers, that many Ohio citizens were deterred from voting during the 2004 presidential election. This was accomplished by simply failing to deploy a sufficient number of voting machines. This paucity of equipment resulted in very long wait times, in some cases as long as four hours, for college students and citizens residing in minority communities. It is reasonable to assume that some people could not, or chose not to, wait for such a long time and thus were cheated of their basic democratic right.

The New York State Board of Elections, as part of their administrative duties, must specify the service limit of a voting system. They have posted the proposed Part 6210 Routine Maintenance and Testing of Voting Systems and Operational Procedures for public comment. These regulations govern local BOE operations including the service limits of voting machines (the number of voters each system can be expected to serve).

The Voting Integrity Project has submitted commentary on these proposed regulations too lengthy to reproduce in their entirety here. One item relevant to this discussion is section 6210.19, subsection 1 which states in part: " DRE voting machine for every 550 active registered voters." (DRE = direct recording electronic, such as the LibertyVote machine which is favored by the Schoharie County Election Commissioners).

The state BOE is proposing the 550/DRE number in spite of the timing study they commissioned last year (referred to as the AIR study for the company that did the work) which arrived at a number of 351.5 voters per 15 hr. polling period (15 X 60 / 2.56 min. mean time to vote on a Liberty). 6210.19 Commentary offered to the NYS BOE by the Voting Integrity Project follows:

"Taking into account the AIR timing study results, this 550 service limit number seems to indicate that the NY BOE is assuming a voter turnout of something like 60% and that those voters will present in a very orderly uniform manner [like one every 2.56 min.?] so as to avoid long waiting times. It’s not going to work. The service limit needs to be much lower. Other jurisdictions have set limits much lower, some even less than 200."

Several jurisdictions using DRE voting systems were surveyed by New Yorkers for Verified Voting. Their voting machine service limits ranged from a low of 74 to a high of 328.
Schoharie County citizens will be interested to know that, even using the inflated service limit number in the proposed 6210 regulations, we will be required to buy at least 45 DRE machines. Of the 27 county election districts only 10 have enrollments less than or close to 550. The remainder will require two machines each. This is significantly more machines than anticipated by our election commissioners. In a recent quote attributed to Democratic Commissioner Cliff Hay he indicated that 35 machines would be needed. The 550/DRE rule demands 45 machines, 28 with accessibility devices and 17 without, and will cost $425,000.00, 33% more than the expected Help America Vote Act funds .

If a more realistic service limit is used, such as 250, the cost of the new voting machines will increase to over $650,000.00. This number does not take into account storage, transport, spare parts and ancillary equipment needed to maintain the machines and conduct elections. Please also remember the annual software license fees equal to 12% of the total contract.

The Voting Integrity Project has been advocating for paper ballot voting because of its economy and superior security. The following is excerpted from the Peacemakers Voting Machine Position Statement of 17 June 2006:

"...the Paper Ballot voting system. A ballot scanner can be trusted to count the ballots quickly, but only if the scanner is programmed and maintained by municipal workers, not by a private corporation, and the hand counted tally of paper ballots remains the official record of the election.

Therefore, Peacemakers of Schoharie County urges all New York citizens to refuse to accept electronic voting machines, to refuse to vote using an electronic voting machine, and to henceforth demand paper ballots for every election. There seems no better way for the electorate to express their will on this matter."

The proposed 6210 regulations also specify service limits for paper ballot voting systems. There is a service limit of 4000 voters per optical scanner and one voting privacy booth for every 300 voters. The Voting Integrity Project commented:

"We should not be miserly in deploying inexpensive voting booths. Voters should be encouraged to take as much time as needed to complete their ballot and they should be able to do so without anxiety about causing others to wait. The service limit for voting booths should be set no higher than 150 and, for the comfort of the elderly or infirm, the booths should allow voters to be seated while completing their ballot."

If the Schoharie County election officials and elected representatives want to ensure that no citizen is subjected to long lines and long waiting at the polls they should tell the NYS BOE to adopt a much lower service limit for the DRE machines.

If they want to provide a much more secure and economical system that will also provide a much more reassuring voting experience they should join the chorus of voting integrity advocates who are pressing for the paper ballot voting system.

Wayne Stinson is the coordinator of the Peacemakers Voting Integrity Project. He can be reached at 518-287-1463 or .

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What Will You Do For Democracy?

What Will You Do For Democracy?
18 Oct. 2007

Sarah, a forty something housecleaner, teenage waitress Wendy, Billy the auto mechanic, Elliot, a retired civil servant and his wife Susan, a used to be hairdresser: these ordinary folks, and many others like them who’ve crossed my path recently, have shaken my confidence in the viability of the grand American experiment.

I hold these folks to be typical American citizens, salt of the earth, honest hard working people who, if it weren’t for one characteristic they have in common, would bring a smile to my face and a warm sense of community to my heart. That one terribly disheartening commonality: They don’t vote!

The catalog of excuses, explanations and justifications for this sad fact includes; a weak smile with a shrug, “I don’t vote,” “I’m not a voter,” “I’m not registered” and “I don’t know anything about politics.” To this I usually respond with a non-judgmental suggestion that there are important issues at stake, issues that their self-interest argues for participation. I have no data indicating such encouragement has actually caused someone to register or vote. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong.

In his inaugural address John F. Kennedy said “…ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Perhaps it would be more effective if I appealed to a citizen’s responsibility to the nation as the rationale for participating in elections.

It should be increasingly obvious to anyone paying attention to national political developments that our democracy is hurting. The important underpinnings of democracy, well articulated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, have been systematically attacked by the Executive, Congress and sometimes even by the courts over the past several years. Recognizing that damage, let’s agree America needs an infusion of democracy!

Using JFK’s formulation we can state that as citizens of America we are responsible for defending and repairing the Constitution. We, each one of us, are responsible for keeping our democracy healthy. So, what will you do for democracy?

I’ve devoted time and energy to protecting the integrity of our elections. My niche in this larger effort is stopping electronic voting machines and the privatization of election administration. There are many other opportunities for contribution.

For the sake of our nation, and for our children, vote, and then find your place in the struggle to defend democracy. Democracy is something you do!


Monday, October 15, 2007

US Attorney warned about voting machine companies

The Voting Integrity Project
A public interest initiative of The Peacemakers of Schoharie County
Po Box 214, Cobleskill, NY 12043

25 September 2007

Glenn T. Suddaby, United States AttorneyPost Office Box 7198100 South Clinton StreetSyracuse, NY 13261-7198

For the past several years The Voting Integrity Project has toiled to convince election officials and elected leaders that electronic voting machines and the companies that make them are not trustworthy.

The Peacemakers Voting Integrity Project and many similar citizen groups across the country have been frustrated by dismissive election administrators, disinterested political leaders, and a seemingly oblivious news media. Now, thankfully, it seems we are witnessing a resurgence of responsible journalism.

On August 14th the satellite channel HD Net aired an important production of Dan Rather Reports titled: The Trouble With Touch Screens? This hour long program included two investigative reports concerning apparent voting machine failures. Mr. Rather was successful in finding witnesses willing to speak out about the incompetence and criminality of two voting machine manufacturers, Election Software and Services (ES&S) and Sequoia Pacific.

If the New York State Board of Elections continues true to form there will be no reaction to the information provided by Dan Rather and HD NET. We have provided this same material to them because these two voting machine manufacturers are seeking contracts with New York State.

We have enclosed a copy of "The Trouble With Touchscreens" for your information. Also enclosed are copies of two letters to the New York State Board of Elections, one concerning the Dan Rather Report and an April 2007 communication concerning the probable criminal activity of the Nedap voting machine company.

The Voting Integrity Project is providing this information so the US Attorney’s office will be fully aware of the problems with electronic voting machines and the privatization of our elections. We believe this is critically important in light of the Justice Department’s legal challenge to New York State’s HAVA compliance, and, should electronic voting machines eventually be imposed on New York’s voters, the very real possibility that similar crimes as those visited upon Florida and The Netherlands will be again be committed in New York State.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.

For The Voting Integrity Project,

Wayne Stinson, Coordinator

Cc: New York State Attorney General, Andrew Como, State Capital, Albany, NY 12224-0341

Election Fraud reported to NYS BOE

The Voting Integrity Project
A public interest initiative of The Peacemakers of Schoharie County
Po Box 214, Cobleskill, NY 12043

25 September 2007

New York State Board of Elections
Neil W. Kelleher, Co-Chairman
Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chairman
Evelyn J. Aquila, Commissioner
Helena Moses Donohue, Commissioner
40 Steuben St.
Albany, NY 12207-2108

Honorable Commissioners,

This communication concerns the responsibility and trustworthiness of two potential New York State Board of Elections vendors.

The Voting Integrity Project has become aware of two investigative reports prepared by Dan Rather and first aired on satellite channel HD Net August 14 2007.

In the first half of his program, "The Trouble With Touchscreens," Rather deals with manufacturing problems with ES&S ivotronics machines. The report reveals that ES&S was aware of the vote-flipping problems with the ivotronics but chose to deliver the defective machines anyway. The defective ivotronics machines are apparently the cause of the unusually large under vote in the 2006 13th CD contest in Florida. That contest result has been challenged by candidate Jennings and remains unresolved.

The second half of Dan Rather’s report concerns Sequoia Pacific’s sabotage of the 2000 presidential election. Sabotage might sound severe but after viewing the video you will appreciate the gravity of Sequoia’s actions. The report features interviews with seven former employees of Sequoia Pacific who provide considerable detail about sub-standard paper and non-standard printing specifications employed in the manufacture of the punch cards used in Florida.

The defective Sequoia punch card ballots resulted in the hanging chads infamous from the Gore-Bush contest recount.

The Voting Integrity Project believes that ES&S and Sequoia are revealed to be untrustworthy by the evidence provided in these reports and must not be considered viable New York State Board of Elections voting system vendors. A review of the evidence presented in these investigative reports will surely result in a negative Vendor Responsibility Investigation finding.

For The Voting Integrity Project,

Wayne Stinson, Coordinator

Cc: Governor Eliot Spitzer,
New York State Comptroller

Enclosure: "The Trouble With Touchscreens" DVD.
Also available at .

NYS BOE End Run Scam

Paper Ballot Warriors,

The New York State Board of Elections, in cooperation with the local BOEs, has devised a plan which will allow the local BOEs to order DRE electronic voting machines before the certification testing of these machines is complete.

As you read this the NYS BOE is developing new rules which will allow the voting machine manufacturers to submit their DRE machines for "authorization" as ballot marking devices intended to serve disabled voters. The plan calls for a limited qualification test to be accomplished quickly. Local BOEs then can order the "authorized" ballot marking devices ASAP.

All this is being done ostensibly to satisfy the Federal District Court demand for NY State to have accessible voting equipment in every polling place next year. The court wants to see a plan now which will be implemented by 9/08.

The local Election Commissioners do not want to spend any HAVA money on paper ballot system ballot marking devices (such as the AutoMark device which is used with a paper ballot system) and if they are allowed to purchase a DRE-Balloot Marking Device for each polling place rural counties will effectively be fully equipped with the DREs. This scheme has been devised to make the court, the vendors, and the election commissioners happy. The only persons not considered are citizens who care about the integrity of their vote.

The BOE might act on this as soon as tomorrow 16 October at their noon meeting, 40 Steuben St., Albany.

We can not let this happen. We must act.

The text of the plan is here:,1,35_26319:35_26335&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

and click on: Draft Requirements - Ballot Marking Devices

Please call or write the NYS BOE with comments.

Call: 518-474-1953, or email:

Tell the BOE they can not violate their own rules requiring certification testing. Tell them you see the scam they're attempting.

Tell them you you do not trust electronic voting machines, or the people who sell them, or the New York State Board of Elections -- now.

Tell them you will not vote on an electronic voting machine.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Problem of Privatization

A Problem of Privatization
Criminal behavior in The Netherlands we must heed
16 March 2007, Special to The Bridge by Wayne Stinson

Each morning I turn on the computer and set the email download in motion. Invariably, there’s a flood of messages from the various news groups I subscribe to. Usually I’ll return to the machine after fixing myself a mug of coffee to spend the first several minutes scanning the topics for issues that might be relevant to my election integrity work. This morning was different. There was a word in the subject line of one of the first messages which compelled my immediate attention: "Extortion."

The "extortion" message had originated with our friends in the Netherlands, The "We Do Not Trust Voting Computers" Foundation. I had been expecting a reply concerning the Dutch company Nedap, the manufacturer of an electronic voting machine that serves 90% of Dutch voters and is presently being marketed here in New York State as the LibertyVote. Their reply was a bombshell!

With the help of the Dutch Freedom of Information Act The "We Do Not Trust…" Foundation had uncovered what they describe as an attempted criminal extortion by the CEO of the company which provides the tabulation software used in the Nedap machines. They had acquired about thirty pages of communications between Jan Goenendaal, the owner of the software company which is the exclusive provider to Nedap, and the Dutch Electoral Council (Kiesraad).

Apparently the Dutch Electoral Council has become very dependent upon Goenendaal for the management of their elections. These FOIL sourced letters and email messages reveal that Mr. Goenendaal attempted to coerce the Dutch Government by threatening to withhold his company’s cooperation during the November, 2006 national elections and March, 2007 provincial elections. Specifically, In the midst of preparations for the November elections and in an attempt to prevent the government from appointing the founder of The "We Do Not Trust…" Foundation to an independent commission investigating the electoral process, Goenendaal warns the ministry that "…his company will cease all activity" if Rop Gonggrijp is appointed to the commission."

Mr. Goenendaal, apparently fearing for the fiscal health of his company following the public hacking of the Nedap machines in October, goes on to propose a business transaction of sorts: "…the ministry buys the shares of our company at a reasonable price, …and we will still cooperate during the next election" (the March Provincial elections).

Having not received an answer to his earlier demands Goenendaal again writes the Electoral Council in mid-December 2006 warning "We are heading towards a very dangerous situation" and, right in the heat of election preparations, he tells them "I have ordered my employees to halt all activity until we have received an answer that is acceptable to us."

This is a problem created by privatization. When a primary function of government, in this case management of elections, is allowed to be controlled to such a degree by a private entity you create a situation where a heavy-handed power play such as that exhibited by the Goenendaal software provider can occur.

As evidence of the detrimental effects of such a relationship I am sorry to report that no prosecution of Mr. Goenendaal has been initiated. On the contrary, following all the arm-twisting communications the Goenendaal firm was contracted to replace all the voting machine memory chips so that the Dutch government could issue a press release titled "No Doubts Regarding Reliability of Voting Machines."

As I had previously reported on these pages Nedap is aggressively marketing their machines here in New York State. The LibertyVote machine presently undergoing certification testing is the Nedap voting machine. If New York State were to certify this machine, those counties that buy them will be entering into a business relationship with a company that should not be trusted. Additionally, it would be extremely poor public policy to enter into such a relationship with a foreign corporation (Nedap), selling a sub-standard product (the LibertyVote), and, which is dependent upon a sub-contractor the likes of Mr. Goenendaal.

Schoharie County citizens should speak to their Supervisors and impress upon them that we should not do business with these people. Instead, we should use paper ballots and those ballots must be counted by hand for the official results.*

*The Peacemakers position statement calls for the ballots to be counted even if a ballot scanner is used to produce an early unofficial result. The complete report by The "We Do Not Trust Voting Computers" Foundation is at: .

Wayne Stinson is the coordinator of the Peacemakers of Schoharie County, Voting Integrity Project. He can be reached at 518-287-1463 or

Nedap (LibertyVote) machine hacked

The following was originally published in The Bridge, POB 292, Cobleskill, NY

Voting Machine Security Questioned
Schoharie County citizens take heed.
16 March 2007 By Wayne Stinson

This past fall a group of computer savvy election integrity activists in The Netherlands undertook a security analysis of the voting machine widely used in their country. The group, "The We Do Not Trust Voting Computers Foundation," disassembled, decoded and examined three Nedap/Groenendaal ES3B electronic voting computers. These machines, which are also used in France and Germany, have been in use for several years and are said to record 90% of the votes cast in The Netherlands. This security analysis is very critical of the Dutch voting machine. The report of the Nedap security analysis was recently translated into English and became available to election integrity activists here in the United States.

So, of what concern is it to Schoharie County citizens that a bunch of Dutch nerds have torn apart some electronic voting machines? Ah, of much concern it seems. Let me explain.

The federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires states to modernize their election equipment and administration. HAVA also provided over three billion dollars for implementation of the required changes. New York State is compelled by the new law to replace all its old lever type voting machines thus creating a 200 million dollar opportunity which has attracted several voting machine manufacturers. A small actor in the New York State election services industry, Mr. Robert Witko of Fort Orange Press in Albany, formed a new business to market electronic voting machines to New York State.

That new business is Liberty Election Systems, a limited liability corporation with an address of 11 Sand Creek Rd., Albany, the same address as that listed for Fort Orange Press. Because Fort Orange Press and Mr. Witko have a long-standing business relationship with election officials, Liberty Election Systems has taken an early lead in the NY market. Despite the more than 1.5 million dollars spent by lobbyists for Liberty’s competitors over the past few years, many upstate election commissioners have expressed a preference for the LibertyVote. Schoharie County’s two election commissioners, Lew Wilson and Cliff Hay, have repeatedly stated that their choice of a new voting system is the LibertyVote machine and associated software products offered by Liberty Election Systems.

Liberty Election Systems does not build a voting machine or develop software to count votes. The products they are marketing are imported from The Netherlands. The manufacturer of the LibertyVote is Nedap and the author of the associated software is Groenendaal. The voting equipment Mr. Witko hopes to sell New York State is the same machinery the Dutch researchers disected and reviewed in their security analysis. A voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) printer has been added to comply with New York State law but the LibertyVote is essentially the Nedap/Groenendaal machine.

So, back to that security analysis we need to heed. Perhaps a quote from the report will best convey the information needed by Schoharie County’s citizens. Consider this from the introduction to the report:

"…the over-all security design of this computer relies almost solely on the near-universally deprecated concept of ‘security by obscurity.’ Since the problems we found stem from the very design philosophy, we see no quick fixes that could make this device sufficiently secure."

The report goes on to detail a variety of serious security failures of the machine and software from cheap, easily picked mechanical locks to sophomorically simple passwords allowing access to system management functions. A lack of appreciation for security by the manufacturer is further revealed by the use of inappropriate materials. The report states:
"…we believe it is significant to notice a pattern here: Tell Nedap they need to incorporate a lock and they pick the cheapest lock imaginable. Tell them to put a seal on it and they laser print their company logo on some paper labels."

Lest the reader assume these criticisms are just the ranting of some opinionated luddites I offer this observation made by Andrew Gumbel in his 2005 book Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America :
"In Europe the prime motivation for e-voting has not been the elimination of fraud, but rather the hope that the growing problem of voter apathy can be stemmed by making the process quicker and more painless. The Netherlands has been a pioneer in developing DREs, although it has focused almost exclusively on ensuring the technical solidity of the machines and given little or no thought to security measures or a paper backup."

Of course the main point of Gumbel’s book is the pervasiveness of electoral fraud here in the United States. We really do need to be concerned about fraud and a machine like the LibertyVote can only make matters worse on that score. The full Dutch security analysis report can be seen at : .

Do Lew Wilson and Cliff Hay know about this report? Probably not, but we will make sure they are advised. Likewise, the New York State Board of Elections will be apprised. Certainly the agency responsible for certification testing of the LibertyVote will need to see this report and hopefully will take a second look at the weaknesses our Dutch friends have documented. We will make sure they see it.

And we hope our readers will be moved to contact their supervisor representative and demand that the county Board of Supervisors prevent our Election Commissioners from imposing the LibertyVote electronic voting machine on the voters. We also do not trust voting computers. We reject electronic voting machines. And we know paper ballots will help preserve our democracy.

Wayne Stinson is the Coordinator of the Peacemakers of Schoharie County Voting Integrity Project. He can be reached at 518-287-1463 or .

NYS BOE Chastised by Peacemakers VIP

The Voting Integrity Project
A public interest initiative of The Peacemakers of Schoharie County
Po Box 214, Cobleskill, NY 12043

5 October 2007

New York State Board of Elections
Neil W. Kelleher, Co-Chairman
Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chairman
Evelyn J. Aquila, Commissioner
Helena Moses Donohue, Commissioner
40 Steuben St.
Albany, NY 12207-2108

Honorable Commissioners,

The Voting Integrity Project has reviewed the untitled document posted on the Board of Elections web page which is apparently a proposed regulation concerning Ballot Marking Devices. We have decided to not participate in the board’s quest for perfection in the wording of this tortured attempt to redefine a ballot marking device. Instead we will comment on the board’s performance in this whole affair.

A reader need go no further than the second paragraph to understand that these proposed "regulations" are actually an elaborate contrivance intended to facilitate the deployment of Direct Reading Electronic voting machines without first accomplishing the certification testing.

The following is excerpted from the New York State Board of Elections mission statement:
The State Board of Elections was established … [and] vested with the responsibility for administration and enforcement of all laws relating to elections in New York State.

It is obvious that the board is not honoring this element of their mission statement in proposing this regulation. Deploying these uncertified DRE voting machines will violate their previously adopted laws and regulations (ERMA and Title 9, subtitle V, Part 6209, Voting Machine Standards) which call for the machines to be fully tested and certified before they can be deployed. Additionally, the actual deployment will be in violation of the above cited rule resulting in subversion of the entire process.

Much has been said about the strong rules and high standards New York has set for the voting systems which will be certified. Indeed, election officials have frequently cited these high standards as cause for citizens to feel confident of the integrity of their vote. By so blatantly subverting their own testing process the board risks eroding citizen confidence, an effect also contrary to expressed goals such as this important element of the mission statement:
In addition to the regulatory and enforcement responsibilities the board is charged with the preservation of citizen confidence in the democratic process and enhancement in voter participation in elections.

The Voting Integrity Project is not privy to the genesis of this scheme or who it is intended to benefit. We can only look at the proposed action and submit our observations.

Clearly the proposed rules will benefit the machine vendors who might otherwise suffer some anxiety that their equipment will not be certified. The premature, and illegal, deployment of their machines essentially assures the "successful" completion of DRE certification testing. It also makes it possible for the vendors to sell some of their equipment as much as a year earlier than might otherwise be possible.

The county Election Commissioners, who despite all the evidence to the contrary remain uncritically committed to buying DRE electronic voting machines, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they have been successful ignoring public opinion and resisting paper ballot voting.

We also assume the United States Justice Department and the US District Court might be made more comfortable by having some sort of plan on file which they can point to and say "we did our job," however, we do hope they are able to look past the ostensible purposes of this plan and see the ill effects it will produce.

Our observations are that an important, indeed the primary, Board of Elections constituency has not been considered and will not be well served by this proposed rule. Voting machine vendors, local Election Commissioners, the state BOE itself perhaps and maybe the US Government entities they are engaged with might all be served in some fashion. The New York State electorate will not be! The proposed regulations fail to serve the "We the People" part of the formulation which is American democracy. For that failure we say shame on the Board of Elections.

The Voting Integrity Project appeals to the better judgment of the Election Commissioners and suggests that this proposed ballot marking device regulation not be adopted. It is the right thing to do for the voters of New York.

For the Voting Integrity Project,

Wayne Stinson

Ps: In addition to the electronic delivery a hard copy of this communication will be delivered via the USPS.

Cc: Governor Eliot Spitzer, The State Capital, Albany, NY 12224
Glenn T. Suddaby, United States Attorney, Post Office Box 7198, Syracuse, NY 13261-7198
New York State Attorney General, Andrew Como, State Capital, Albany, NY 12224-0341

An Issue For The Candidates


For the past several years voting integrity activists have toiled to convince election officials, political leaders and the public that electronic voting machines and the companies that make them are not trustworthy. There is much evidence supporting this position.

Computerized voting machines (AKA electronic voting machines or DREs) are having a negative impact on our elections. Voters are being disenfranchised and are losing faith in the integrity of our elections. A 2006 report(1) detailed the failures of electronic voting machines during the mid-term elections:

* 18% of all problems reported concerned vote flipping on DREs.

* 80% of reports of usability problems were about DREs.

* DRE machine problems turned voters away in 50% of the states that use them.

* 66% of accessibility for disabled voters problems involved DRE voting machines.

* With DREs the official ballot is only an electronic record, voters cannot even see their ballots and are asked to trust that the machine is recording their vote as intended.

A recent Dan Rather Reports program(2) revealed that ES&S Ivotronic touch screens were known to flip votes but were sold to Florida anyway. The ES&S Ivotronic machines are the obvious cause of the contested, and as yet unresolved, 2006 Thirteenth Congressional District contest.

Remember the problems with the hanging chads in the Florida recount of the 2000 Gore - Bush contest? Sequoia Pacific printed the punch cards used in some parts of Florida. Sequoia workers told Rather that management purposely used substandard paper for the cards, and explicitly ordered the pressmen to alter the location of the chads on some cards destined to be shipped to Florida. We now know the 2000 election was sabotaged by a voting machine company.

New York citizens should tell all political candidates to prevent Election Commissioners from buying computerized voting machines.

The Election Commissioners are appointed by and answerable to the County Board of Supervisors or Legislature. Legislative bodies can block deployment of the electronic machines by refusing to fund the purchase of the machines and the many ancillary services they require.

Legislators must put Election Commissioners on notice that they will not approve budget items supporting electronic voting. Additionally, the they could enact a local law prohibiting the use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines and requiring that a software independent, voter generated paper ballot be the ballot of record in their county.

Democracy is something you do.

Wayne Stinson

(1) E-Voting Failures in the 2006 Mid-Term Elections prepared by VotersUnite.Org, VoteTrustUSA, VoterAction.Org, and Pollworkers For Democracy. The full report can be found at: (
(2) HD Net, Dan Rather Reports, August 14th 2007