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|California State Government||November 7, 2006 Election|
Accurate Vote Counting: A Basis Civil Right
By Forrest HillCandidate for Secretary of State; State of California
This information is provided by the candidate
Paper ballots marked on precinct-counted optical scanners are the most reliable, user friendly and cost-effective of the voting technologies available. These systems by definition produce a voter verified paper ballot, can be easily modified to accommodate Rank Choice Voting and can be accompanied with various language options and ballot marking devices for people with disabilities.It is imperative that the voting machines used in our state and local elections are secure and accurate. If the electoral process falls apart during the tabulation of the votes, then voting becomes meaningless.
Election integrity cannot be assured without openness and transparency. Electronic voting machines are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and vulnerable to tampering. Without citizen oversight and secure back-up systems there can be no transparency or confidence in the results.
Unfortunately, voting machine manufacturers, like Diebold and ES&S, are so deeply embedded in our elections processes that it is not an exaggeration to say our elections have become almost completely privatized.
Since the enactment of HAVA (Help America Vote Act), the four major electronic voting machine manufacturers have given more than $650,000 to candidates running for office. The CEO and top officers of the Diebold Corporation + the primary manufacture of Touch Screen voting machines in California + were major contributors to the George W. Bush campaign.
This does not pass the smell test.
If we are to maintain any kind of voter confidence in our democratic process, we need to ensure there are no questions regarding the integrity of our votes.
To ensure our votes are accurately counted it is crucial that the Secretary of State at a minimum take the following five steps:
Beyond security issues, we must also safeguard against voting machine manufacturers dictating what voting methods are used in our City, County, or State elections. This is currently happening in Alameda County where the Diebold Corporation has balked at providing software for voter approved Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).
In the final analysis, paper ballots marked on precinct-counted optical scanners are the most reliable, user friendly and cost-effective of the voting technologies available. These systems by definition produce a voter verified paper ballot, which is the official record of the vote. They can be easily modified to accommodate Rank Choice Voting such as IRV system used in San Francisco and can be accompanied with various language options and ballot marking devices for people with disabilities. Finally, Optical scanners cost half of what Touch Screen machines cost and this will be welcomed by constituents and taxpayers.
The myopic spread of electronic voting machines is perpetuated by government officials operating under the misconception that the 2002 Help America Vote Act requires the use of Touch Screen computers to ensure the visually impaired can vote independently. It does not! In fact, HAVA explicitly states voting systems that allow the disable to vote - such as electronic ballot-marking devices and ballot templates like those used in Europe and Rhode Island + meet the accessibility requirement.
Of course, the primary promoters of the misconception are the vendors themselves - who are competing for a slice of the multi-billion dollar HAVA pie. Today, nearly all states wait for the vendor to make the initial move and apply for state certification. This gives the vendors an enormous amount of control over the type of voting equipment used in each state.
The message is clear, unless we use voting equipment that safeguards against tampering, public confidence in our elections will be eroded and the results of any election will remain open to question.
Free and fair elections are the engine of democracy.
Electronic voting machines with meager security, privately controlled testing, and significant technical flaws threaten to undermine our voting rights and thus the reliability of the election process.
Position Paper 2
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