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Open letter to the Director of the NY League of Women Voters

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clear eye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-16-09 07:45 PM
Original message
Open letter to the Director of the NY League of Women Voters
Edited on Mon Feb-16-09 08:02 PM by clear eye
(in response to "Do Lever Machines Provide a Better Voting System for Democracy?" joint statement by the NYLWV and NYVV.)

Dear Director Bierman:

The statement your organization, represented by Aimee Allaud, released in coordination with NYVV asserting that the effort to retain lever machines in NYS is "misguided" is misguided. Simply saying that lever voting machines do not produce a paper trail does not mean that these mechanical devices are less secure than software dependent devices that do. Even in a state with the most scrupulously followed safeguards that can be devised, Minnesota, we can see in the Franken/Coleman election that ballots can go missing before a recount. The lever machines were designed to be so transparent and mechanically verifiable before and during use as to not need a recount. As long as the machines are tested immediately before use as has always been SOP, officials respond appropriately to any voter report of failure (which is immediately apparent during voting on lever machines), and election officials are not as a group so grossly corrupt that they conspire to tamper with the machines during the election, these machines can't produce results "known to be wrong". They were devised exactly to correct ballot tampering issues. If the election officials in a locale are uniformly that corrupt, then paper trails and ballots generated by the optical scanners and electronic tally computers that control the race-wide count would be even less secure and easier to tamper with than lever machines counts.

Furthermore, it is disingenuous to say you are not "supporting retention of the levers once the scanners pass New York's rigorous certification process", when it is screamingly obvious that the scanners do not currently perform with anything like the necessary security, and yet you are advocating their installation w/i this calendar year. As for ballot marking devices compromising anonymity of disabled voters, the same could be said for absentee ballots that trouble no one. It is insulting for you to call those who disagree with you "insensitive" for wanting the highest level of election integrity possible. This sort of name-calling is an effort to intimidate by persons who do not have the facts on their side. Even one of your own organization's group in charge of formulating the League's 2004 and 2006 positions on voting machine integrity, Ms. Teresa Alice Hommel, says the current statement quotes the older position papers out of context, and that they were never meant to apply to lever voting machines--that security for the lever machines was, in fact, never raised.

The only issue that your recent statement is straightforward about, and the one with which it opens and closes, is that NYS officials, without listening to the will of their constituents, took a lot of federal money for electronic voting machines, spent some of it on equipment that failed, and how to reconcile with the Feds if we don't go ahead with the program is a thorny problem. Your solution is to throw good money after bad and install equipment that has been described by a NYS Commissioner of Elections as "junk". Many of us, for some reason, feel it would be preferable to fight to retain the most accurate system in the country, and negotiate a solution to the fiscal problem with the Feds either politically, or through the courts. In a best case scenario, the remaining HAVA money will be found applicable to lever machine maintenance.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-16-09 11:11 PM
Response to Original message
1. Let's not forget NYVV, likely the real source of the campaign against levers.
As Hommel reminds us, the LWV was pro-DRE at one point underscoring their incomplete knowledge of the perils involved with voting systems.

Rightly alarmed, NYVV stepped in to help them realize what a bad choice DREs would be. Even the early advocacy of Optical Scan, based on an erroneous assumption about HAVA, could be forgiven.

But the LWV, NYVV, Wanda Berry, and most notably Bo Lipari have been given ample time and opportunity to amend their incomplete knowledge of the perils involved with Optical Scan and subtleties of HAVA. Mr. Lipari's background in computers is also worth noting. Their continued undeserved pillorying of lever systems seems inexcusable in this light. The wanton disregard of the facts and the specious arguments presented, such as Berry's claim, here on Democratic Underground, that she can see the scanner counting her vote, can be described as stubborn only if one were being charitable and forgiving.

New Yorkers will do well to keep a watchful eye on these groups and individuals, particularly in light of Lipari's non-resignation resignation to move on to National Election Integrity issues. It is possible that he will work to help pass Congressman Holt's bill as written thus banning levers via federal legislation now that more and more New York Voters and election officials have wised up to him, the vendors, the ITA's, and the Bush administration DoJ.

Good on you, Clear Eye!

PS: To my knowledge, the NYS election official did not call the electronic voting and vote counting systems "junk". Commissioner Kellner referred to them as "crap"!

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clear eye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 07:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You're right; I misremembered Doug Kellner's epithet.
Edited on Tue Feb-17-09 07:55 AM by clear eye
Lipari helping push through Holt's inadvertent ban on levers. Hmmm, that really does smell of a deal w/ the devil, aka optical scan mfrs. (I don't believe Holt did that intentionally. Brad Friedman convinced him to fix some other loopholes in his bill. I think he's just not very good at seeing all the angles.)
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