Sunday, January 13, 2008

Voting Equipment Selection

Now is the time for lawmakers to act

On 1/23, the NYS BOE will release a list of authorized but untested and uncertified voting equipment from which the Election Commissioners will select a Ballot Marking Device (BMD) to be deployed in every polling place.

County Election Commissioners are required to make their selection no later than 2/8 according to the timeline set by the state BOE. It is important to understand the selection might be made as early as 1/23.

It is almost certain that the very serviceable and previously certified AutoMark BMD will be on that list. The AutoMark is the BMD which is intended to paired with a paper ballot voting system to provide access for the disabled.

It is also very likely that one or more Direct Recording Electronic Voting Machines (DRE) will be on the list as well. In a disturbingly perverse move the state BOE recently agreed to allow the voting machine manufacturers to submit their DREs as BMDs if the vote counting function is disabled and the device prints a full size ballot.

I believe the above perverse ruling was made specifically to help DRE voting machine vendors such as Albany based Liberty Election Systems. We can expect a modified LibertyVote DRE to be on the list of authorized BMDs.

And it is also very likely Schoharie County's Election Commissioners Cliff Hay & Lew Wilson will select the LibertyVote DRE, or any machine other than the AutoMark, in order to avoid committing to a paper ballot voting system. I say “committing” because a major portion of the available HAVA funds will be expended on the BMDs mandated for 2008 deployment.

Re: committing to a system. Because the court ordered HAVA compliance plan requires devices to assist the disabled in every polling place, rural counties, like Schoharie with most polling places with only one voting machine, will effectively be committing to DREs if they choose an experimental BMD created from a DRE.

The Perverse Plan (as formulated by the E.C.s & vendors) goes like this:

A Make Believe BMD (MBBMD) created from a DRE is authorized by the state.

The ECs select the MBBMD and pay some fraction of the usual DRE price and deploys them in 2008.

The state BOE subsequently tests and certifies the DRE on which the MBBMD is based (no one believes the state would not certify machines that the counties have already purchased).

The vendor returns to the county reprograms the MBBMD machine to function as a full functioned DRE and collects the balance due, probably some additional premium fees, and sells the county what ever additional DREs the county E.C.s think they can afford.

The county deploys all the DREs in 2009 and everyone is happy:

Federal District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe will no longer feel ashamed to be a New Yorker and will sleep well again,

The Justice Dept. lawyers can report to the Bush administration criminal cabal that their mission is accomplished,

The NYS BOE Commissioners can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they weathered this crisis without being thrown under the bus or into jail… all they need to remember is to keep their mouths shut and reap the rewards,

Bobby Witko of Liberty Election Services will have made his daddy proud - he was able to peddle a crappy voting machine that has been rejected in Ireland, The Netherlands and Germany… at an incredibly exaggerated price,

Nedap (manufacturer of the LibertyVote) can rejoice at being able to report to their stockholders their voting machine has been introduced into the USA market, and maybe even show some black ink for that division for the first time in five years. That black ink can’t help but be improved with each election cycle in the US….New York State has a bunch of very valuable electoral votes,

Cliff Hay and Lew Wilson will have broken into the big time. Now if anyone wants to buy a particular election outcome in Schoharie County they will have the means to deliver with much greater efficiency then ever before. Also, if someone is working a state or federal scam they will be able to demand their cut. AND hey, there’s no paper ballots - Happy times are here again!

The only people who might not get what they want is the little people who believe their vote counts - but then it’s only some of those little folk that might not get what they want since the bosses need only switch a few percent of the ballots. Those people who’s vote might get switched won’t know - and what they don’t know won’t hurt them - right?

The only recourse for the little people then is Civil Disobedience (CD) - I say the only recourse because I’m not a violent person. I can not speak for the rest of our citizens who might feel they are not represented because their votes are not being counted...we fought a war over this very problem once before didn't we.

What CD? How about something as simple as "Just Say No! These are our elections and it is our vote we're talking about. We should just say no to electronic voting!

Every citizen needs to take ownership of their individual ballot and demand we use the only system which makes it possible for the voter to mark their own ballot and see their ballot being recorded and counted, the paper ballot system.

I've been telling everyone I encounter that I will refuse to vote using an electronic voting machine. It is not hard to imagine that election administrators and poll workers will have little choice but to provide paper ballots if enough of us demand it. I've printed my own calling card with just that message on it - it works, I recommend it.

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