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WestHoustonDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 07:49 AM
Original message
Houston Chrnicle Editorial advocating VVPT!!
Last week it was an op-ed from our friend Stan Merriman. Last week, Stan, Smarty Pants Liberal and others met with the Chronicle's editorial board and here's the result. Way to go!

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/4127457.h...

Aug. 19, 2006, 8:44PM
Ballot backstop
Texas should join the states mandating a paper trail to verify the accuracy of electronic voting machines

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

In in an electronic age haunted by computer viruses and hackers, many people cling to paper security blankets, whether they come in the form of ATM receipts, itemized credit card charges or monthly bank statements.

Yet in the essential civic exercise of choosing our representatives, Texans who use electronic machines are forced to trust a fallible computer program with no way to check the accuracy of the results. Such a system amounts to faith-based voting.

With the knowledge that no computer is tamperproof and a growing list of malfunctions by direct recording electronic machines (DREs) during elections, 27 states have enacted laws requiring voting systems that produce paper ballots that voters can verify (VVPBs). After individuals make their selections and cast their vote electronically, a hard copy of the ballot is printed showing the selections. The voter views the results to make sure their vote is accurate, and then drops the ballot into a sealed box, providing a record independent of the electronic machine that can later be audited.

Texas, unfortunately, has no such requirement, and Harris County, which uses the Hart Intercivic machine and also conducts municipal elections, has no plans to purchase the company's optional printer system to create a paper trail. County Democratic Party officials are clamoring for such a system, as well as increased security and voting machine tests for accuracy.

"If folks can hack the Pentagon," Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg said, "they can certainly hack a machine in Harris County."

County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a Republican, says such concerns are unfounded. "There's this kind of cavalier attitude on these folks' part that all you've got to do is just bolt on a printer and there it is," said Kaufman, who estimates that it would cost up to $8 million to buy equipment and reprogram the system with the capability to print ballots in three languages. "We're just not at a point here where we're able to do it if we wanted to, which we don't."

Kaufman also contends that the current system has the capability to produce a paper copy of results after the election is concluded. However, whatever would be printed out would simply reflect what the system recorded and would not detect computer malfunctions, erased votes or fraudulent manipulation of programming.

In a report this year on electronic voting machines entitled "Malfunction and Malfeasance," researchers for the nonpartisan group Common Cause concluded that DRE machines "are vulnerable to malfunction and also to tampering in which a computer-savvy hacker with minimal access to the machine could introduce malicious code to the DRE software and change the results of an election."

The report cites an incident during this spring's Texas primary in which voting machines in Tarrant County, which uses the same system as Harris, recorded 100,000 votes that were never cast. Hart Intercivic officials took responsibility for the programming mistake that caused the overcount but discounted the incident because votes for all candidates were boosted equally.

Last year the Commission on Federal Election Reform led by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, issued election reform recommendations that included a call for a federal law requiring all electronic voting systems to be equipped with paper printouts. Legislation died in the last session of Congress but has been reintroduced by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. A similar bill, the Voter Integrity and Verification Act, has been introduced in the Senate by Republican John Ensign of Nevada.

Since Texas has yet to approve paper trails that voters can verify, it is not Kaufman's responsibility to make that decision. The Texas Legislature and Congress should pass legislation mandating the installation of paper audits on all electronic voting machines.

They are more expensive and might create more work for election officials, but VVPBs are necessary to boost voter confidence in system and give candidates recourse to recounts.
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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 07:55 AM
Response to Original message
1. That's my city!
Houston is a fairly enllightened and liberal community.

It's just those damm suburbs and exurbs that give Houston
a bad name.

Sue
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WestHoustonDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Hi Sue - You ought to join us in the Texas forum!
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

It's the most active state forum and we have lots of Houstonians - me, Lisa0825 (well, Texas City), PDittie, Smarty Pants Liberal, Rob Zipp, Babylonsister, Lavender Diva. I hope I'm not leaving anyone out.

:hi:
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ananda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. Thanks WHD
I live in West Houston myself.
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WestHoustonDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Whereabout?
I'm on Memorial at Dairy Ashford. How about you? PM me if you prefer.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 07:58 AM
Response to Original message
2. Dare I/we hope? Thanks, WHD! Very encouraging! Rec'd!!! nt
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:49 AM
Response to Original message
4. F A. I. T. H -. B. A. I .S. E. D VOTING! ...... Brilliant!
Ain't it the truth.

But some of us didn't buy into the faith.
We used our heads.

. Republican owned software.
. Republican owned hardware.
. Republican owned techinicians and fixers.
. Republican owned election official partners.
. Republican owned 'corporate tv network owners' of exit polling data by virtue of buying pollster services jointly enabling them to coordinate results with the WH/elves, then call the elections as if their individual analysts came up with the results.
. Republican tricks and tricksters - adv0ising voters to come the day after the vote, purge innocents, set up road blocks with the assistance of the police, hide machines, misappropriate machines, change locations to outside lines only.

YA' GOTTA HAVE A LOTTA FAITH!

Somone should write a song and send it to our faith based leaders in Washington, minus Conyers and some otherr savvy ones.
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MelissaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
5. Oops
I just posted the same article. I'm nominating this one and deleting mine.

:hi:
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acmejack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
6. I sent this one to the Austin Paper, too
With this letter:

Editors,

I continue to send you these editorials in hopes that perhaps you will act in the public interest! Please, please, this is of vital importance to the citizens of Texas, I realize you have zero interest in this subject, you have ignored several letters and editorials sent to you addressing this issue. I would appreciate a response indicating why you choose to continue to ignore this vital topic, as I am sure you will continue to do.

It is of great concern that the newspaper in the Capitol city of the State of Texas takes a backseat in the push to bring verifiable voting back to the people. These proprietary voting machines have been demonstrated to be easily manipulable, insecure, and subject to election fraud, but the press has chosen to ignore this. I must ask you why? Do you not care about the implications for Democracy? I was taught that the free press, the fifth estate, you, are the guardians of Democracy. It would appear that you are willfully abdicating that role.

Is there a reason that is not apparent to the general public that you have chosen to meekly ignore the diminution of American Democracy? You have overlooked credible evidence of election fraud in the past elections and been given a pass. It is unconscionable that you should be so unconcerned as to not even lift a finger as to attempt to preclude the possibility of it occurring in the future or reporting on the demonstrated proof of the mechanisms through which it could be accomplished. There is overwhelming evidence that the present system is deeply and troublingly flawed. As the old saying goes, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We need you to display some editorial integrity for the sake of democracy! Run this editorial and stand up for Voter Verifiable Paper Trails!
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:48 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Way to go, acmejack!
:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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sonias Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 01:03 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. Good for you acmejack!
First Kudos to Stan for the editorial of course and anyone else that helped. That would be you Smarty Pants Liberal, even if you didn't "attend". We know all of us are working to put some pressure on this issue.


acmejack, probably didn't see this but our own Dana actually went to Colorado to study VVPAT/VVPAB on August 8th. Her office release this statement:


Travis County Elections 8/7/2006 9:27 AM
Travis County Clerk - Elections Division
For Immediate Release: August 7, 2006
Contact: Mary Fero, 854-3293; 854-4996


County Clerk to Observe Paper Audit Trail System in Colorado


Austin-Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir will be in Colorado on Tuesday, August 8, for the Colorado Primary election. DeBeauvoir and two senior staff members from the County Clerks Elections Division will observe Hart InterCivic's Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in the metropolitan area south of Denver.


Colorado is among the first states to implement a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail on the Hart eSlate voting system, with more than 40 counties slated to use Harts new VVPAT for the upcoming primary elections. Travis County is discussing the possibility of a voter verifiable paper audit system, which has not been certified and is not currently available anywhere in Texas.


To make this type of application work properly in Travis County, we will need clear, written procedures and extensive training of poll workers, said DeBeauvoir. We want to learn from other urban areas how best to make a voter-verified paper audit trail system successful here.


DeBeauvoir said the trip would provide an opportunity to observe voters and election judges in real-life situations. She also planned to discuss with election officials how best to audit the paper record.


Well observe first-hand how voters handle the voter-verifiable paper audit trail system, DeBeauvoir said, adding that we're particularly interested in seeing how election judges manage the logistics of paper jams, explain the system to voters, and open and close the polls.


Following her return, DeBeauvoir said she will work with the local legislative delegation and the Texas Secretary of State to draft language for any necessary changes in law or procedure needed to bring a VVPAT system to Texas.


The eSlate system has been in use in Travis County since 2002, following its unanimous recommendation by a citizen advisory group and subsequent adoption by the Travis County Commissioners Court.


- 30 -


Sonia
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
8. Wow! nt
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Smarty Pants Liberal Donating Member (267 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
11. Thanks for the kudos, WHD I didn't attend the meeting
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 01:11 PM by Smarty Pants Liberal
I have difficulty articulating what I believe when I'm sitting with big hoo hahs. Besides, the committee that attended the meeting outnumbered the editorial board. I and another precinct chair talked to some other big hoo hahs in the Party about what we find fault with in the chain of custody, the demoralizing training, the bs about the seals on the JBCs when nothing is done to secure the serial ports on the JBCs that are taken home for as many as 72 hours before the election or the serial ports on the back of the eSlates that are not secured and stored in the voting locations for UP TO TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE ELECTION! When one of the committee members recounted the meeting he said the Harris County Democratic Party Chair, Gerry Birnberg absorbed everything we said and did a superb job of articulating what I worried that I might not have been able to say.
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Kip Humphrey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 02:01 PM
Response to Original message
13. Kaufman has got to go!!!
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luckyleftyme2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 06:20 AM
Response to Original message
14. i thought you had to read english

has the rules for citizenship changed? i thought you had to understand how the government worked ,and understand enough english to become a citizen of this country.
why print a ballot in 3 lingo's?
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WestHoustonDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Are you serious? Aside from the fact that it's required by law,..
For new citizens, voting can be very intimidating. Anything we can do to help new citizens make the best informed choice they can make, must be done. That starts with making sure that the instructions and issues are clearly understood. Obviously, they will comprehend instructions written in their native language more accurately than instructions in English.
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Lisa0825 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #14
16. I can probably read enough Spanish to get by, but
I seriously doubt I could understand the formal kind of language often used when wording amendments and propositions on the ballot. In addition, I am very much AGAINST language requirements or the concept of an "official language." Immigrants have always been a part of the success of this country, even if they are the object of the scorn of the right at the present time.
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