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The Help America Vote Act--Help or hindrance?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 02:07 PM
Original message
The Help America Vote Act--Help or hindrance?
Here we go again. Another one of those pesky truth-telling election officials:

Your Vote Counts: The Help America Vote Act--Help or hindrance?
Written by VIRGINIA MARTIN
Saturday, 01 January 2011


REMEMBER FLORIDA 2000? Chads, hanging and dimpled. Confusion when we should have had conclusion. Not this country's proudest electoral moment.

Congress was embarrassed. So in 2002 it passed the Help America Vote Act. HAVA required states to improve electoral education, training and administration, and to make it possible for people with disabilities to cast their votes, privately and independently, with the rest of the electorate at the polling place.

Wait -- didn't HAVA also outlaw the lever voting machines that New York had been using for decades?

In a word: No.

But it did offer extra funding to states looking to upgrade their equipment...in New York's case, $50 million.

Wow -- such a deal. Except that our machines were working quite well, thank you, assuming they were appropriately maintained and all the crucial bipartisan checks and balances were executed. In many ways, they worked better than the electronic machines that replaced them.

-snip-

Having borne witness to the myriad problems other states were encountering with their newfangled electronic systems, our state Board of Elections was cautious. To their credit, they set the bar high. To their dismay, they located no worthy specimens. A really good electronic voting machine was beyond the state of the art.

-snip-

It's sad that, while New Yorkers associate HAVA with helping the disabled to vote, they also often associate HAVA with high costs and meddling -- with fixing something that wasn't broke. That's an unfair and tragic conflation of the reality.

Yes, HAVA gave people with disabilities the voting rights they deserved. No, HAVA didn't require us to give up our lever voting machines and substitute them with op-scans. Nor did HAVA require us to expend the money that we did (and will continue to). That was the work of our legislature when it grabbed the free money that was offered (as if federal money is manna from heaven) in order to modernize our voting equipment.

-snip-

Virginia Martin is Democratic election commissioner of Columbia County, New York. Read more at:
http://www.columbiapaper.com/index.php/component/conten...
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 02:13 PM
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1. K&R
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bluestateguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 02:17 PM
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2. It was a good law to pass, but far from perfect
Provisional ballots for example are better than the alternative before. Before if you showed up on election day to vote and your name was not on the list you were shit out of luck. Now the PB at least allows you to cast a ballot that has a chance of being counted. About two thirds of PB's end up being counted.

The problem, as we have seen, is that the law leaves state regulators in charge of many of these procedures. So you may have a hardass partisan SecState like Ken Blackwell in Ohio, who is determined to make it as hard as possible for provisional ballots to be counted, as we saw in 2004.

So the law is far from perfect, but it is better than no law at all.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Provisional ballots are not the problem with BBV. Corporate owned privately controlled unverified
untested unverifiable software is the problem. To pretend verifiable tested and open software is not state of the are is beyond belief.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 06:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. ANY software is a problem.
Open or otherwise, if I don't know what's REALLY loaded in a voting machine, what does it matter?

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-01-11 07:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Open source does not mean error-free or unhackable.
Edited on Sat Jan-01-11 07:32 PM by Bill Bored
If you are not familiar with the latest trial of open voting systems software, which was the D.C. Internet voting debacle, please read more about it. All the code was open, but it wouldn't work with Apple software! And it was hacked to bits too!
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-02-11 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. That gets into testing verifiability and version control. I never said I wanted electronic voting I
just said secret proprietary source code is not the way to go.
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-02-11 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Thank you for clarifying. Have a look at this if you haven't seen it:
http://vote.nist.gov/DraftWhitePaperOnSIinVVSG2007-2006...

And note that election officials did NOT want it included in the 2007 standards, so it's OUT!
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