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One Year Ago - New York -- Transparency vs. Certification: Fact & Friction

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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-01-10 12:30 AM
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One Year Ago - New York -- Transparency vs. Certification: Fact & Friction

New York -- Transparency vs. Certification: Fact & Friction

Wednesday, February 11, 2009
by Howard Stanislevic

The Election Transparency Coalition of NY (ETC) has issued a 2 page essay entitled, Only a Transparent Vote-Counting System Can Protect Democracy, now available on their blog at the above URL and here in PDF format. ( )

This short essay by ETC's Founder and Legal Counsel, Andi Novick, Esq., prepared with the assistance of county election officials and the E-Voter Education Project, clearly explains why:
    * New York's transparent lever voting system is superior to unobservable software-based voting technology;

    * state and federal "certification" of a software-based vote-counting system is not an adequate safeguard;

    * the risks inherent in post-election hand counting of paper ballots have caused New York to prohibit recounts of such ballots cast at polling places, except as required on election night before the election inspectors adjourn (we recognize that in other states where software-based vote counting has become the norm, post-election audits and recounts may be the best that can be hoped for to verify election results);

    * the Help America Vote Act does NOT ban lever voting systems, which can be made fully HAVA-compliant with the addition of at least one accessible voting device for voters with special needs at each polling place (as NY has done in 2008 without exposing anyone's votes to the risks inherent in software-based vote counting).

New York has yet to replace its lever voting system, and has yet to enact any meaningful post-election audit laws or regulations. Those of us who have been studying this problem for years as the battle over which software-based voting system (touchscreens vs. ballot scanners) has been waged, understand exactly what will be necessary to effectively verify election results produced by software -- independently of software -- and, where possible, with confidence approaching that provided by the current lever voting system. We also know what New York's counties will be asked to do to comply with such rules. The task ahead of us is clearly a daunting one, but moreover, it's an unnecessary one -- if we keep and properly maintain our mechanical lever voting system.

Professor Bryan Pfaffenberger of the University of Virginia, who received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the lever voting machine, has described New York's current machines as follows:
    one of the most astonishing achievements of American technological genius, a fact that is reflected in their continued competitiveness against recent voting technologies in every accepted performance measure;

    a technology that solved the characteristic problems of American elections;

    immune to systemic exploitation, which could affect hundreds of thousands of machines;

    in sharp contrast to the way Americans talk about voting machines today ... the lever voting machinethough lacking an independent audit trailhad done something todays voting technologies have been unable do: it won the confidence of American voters and election officials

After thinking it through and weighing the available alternatives, we are forced to agree with Dr. Pfaffenberger's conclusions. Transparency trumps "certification" every time.

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