August 26, 2011

Response to PA SoC photo ID stance

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele: Photo ID protects integrity of every vote.

Text of PA SoC Aichele's August 23, 2011, press release with comments in red by Madeline Rawley:

Lancaster – Requiring Pennsylvania voters to provide photo identification will protect the right of every legal voter to have their vote carry the weight it should, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele said today.

Speaking to the 2011 Pennsylvania County Election Officials Conference in Lancaster, Aichele said requiring voters to provide photo identification will make it harder to commit voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

“My duty, and yours, is to protect the integrity of every vote,” said Aichele, Pennsylvania’s chief election official, explaining the Corbett Administration’s support for the photo ID concept. “We must insure every citizen entitled to vote can do so, but also prevent anyone not entitled to this right from diluting legal voters’ ballots, by casting illegal votes.”

Aichele said voter turnout in states such as Georgia, with strict photo ID laws upheld by the courts, has increased across racial, ethnic and socio-economic lines.* In the 2008 election! Not evidence for typical election.

She noted arrests in the past three years of workers for the group known as ACORN on federal election fraud charges in Pittsburgh, and the submission of 8,000 fraudulent ACORN-collected voter registration forms in Philadelphia, as evidence voter fraud is an issue in Pennsylvania.* This is voter registration fraud, which the PHOTO ID bill could not stop.

Aichele also pointed to a 1994 state Senate election in Philadelphia as a reason the Corbett Administration supports additional voter safeguards for absentee ballots. PHOTO ID BILL COULD NOT PREVENT THIS:
“A federal judge found absentee-ballot fraud so massive in this election, he actually overturned the results, and awarded the seat to the losing candidate,” Aichele said. “Fraud in this case effectively disenfranchised every voter in that district.”

A Department of State analysis shows 99 percent of eligible voters already have an acceptable photo ID, and providing free photo IDs to every other eligible voter, should they all request one, would cost just over $1 million.* No source for this number given. House Republican Appropriations Committee report says: “Data provided by PennDOT indicates that only 3.9% of the voting population does not hold a state-issued ID. Applying that number to all registered voters (8,166,393 as of April 11) to the cost to produce a photo ID ($13.50) totals $4,315,417. Currently 82.4% of the adult population in Pennsylvania are registered voters.

“Today, you must show a photo ID to cash a check, board a plane, and check into a hotel,” Aichele said. “Requiring a photo ID for something as important as voting will not burden anyone, but will protect the rights of legal voters in Pennsylvania.”* It does burden some seniors who no longer drive and do not have a license, persons with disabilities, students, urban people who have no need for a license, married women who have changed their name on their drivers’ licenses but not their voter registration etc.

August 12, 2011

PA voting machines to be re-examined

In early 2006 several groups petitioned the PA Secretary of the Commonwealth to re-examine our electronic voting machines. In Bucks County members of the Coalition for Voting Integrity asked for re-examination of the Danaher. In Chester County it was the ES&S iVotronic. SoC Pedro Cortés denied the requests.

Voter Action describes what happened next: "In August 2006, a group of Pennsylvania voters filed a lawsuit [Banfield v. Cortés] in Pennsylvania state court challenging the use of electronic voting machines on the grounds that it violated the state election code and the state constitution’s guarantee of the right to vote." Among other things, the suit cited the refusal to re-examine the voting machines.

SoC Cortés objected to the re-examination requests but the PA Commonwealth Court ruled unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs. In July 2011 the current Secretary of the Commonwealth, Carol Aichele, communicated her intention to conduct re-examinations of voting machines requested by three groups in 2006, including the Coalition for Voting Integrity in Bucks and Chester Counties. The petitioners will have the opportunity to observe the re-examinations.

Update: On September 14, 2011, SoC Aichele agreed to honor a request for re-examination of the remaining DREs as well--the Sequoia AVC Advantage, Sequoia Edge, and Hart Intercivic eSlate.

August 10, 2010

Madeline Rawley's Response to Richard Charnin's Criticism of Her Article

Dear Mr. Charnin:

I learned about your response to my article in the Coalition for Voting Integrity’s News and Opinion, "Another Threat to Public Scrutiny of the Election Process—the Elimination of Polling Places through Adoption of No-Excuse Absentee Ballots—the First Step to All Mail-In Voting," from a Google alert.

At the moment I do not have the time to respond to all your comments. However, I would like to quickly respond to your question at the end of your response, “Are you for true voting integrity or the status quo?” as it involves my integrity.

1. I AM FOR TRUE BLUE VOTING INTEGRITY: In 2005, learning that the Bucks County Commissioners were planning to implement a new voting system without any citizen input, I joined the newly formed Coalition for Voting Integrity and began researching and informing the commissioners about the insecurity, inaccuracy and unreliability of direct-recording electronic voting machines and the need for voter-marked paper ballots read by precinct-based optical scan machines in order to have a paper record of the voters’ intended votes. The Coalition presented the commissioners with the opinions of respected computer scientists, who said that without paper ballots it was not possible to audit the accuracy of the DRE vote counts or conduct a meaningful audit. However, the commissioners dismissed the warnings from computer scientists we gave them and ordered Danaher DREs. Some of the Danahers were reconditioned machines, possibly from New Mexico, which had replaced them with a voter-marked paper-based system because a study had shown that voters, not knowing how to vote on the Danaher DRE, had mistakenly deselected their presidential votes.

Since then I have continued to try to persuade the commissioners to replace the DREs and helped write a state bill introduced by a state senator that would reimburse counties for the cost of replacing their DREs with voter-marked paper ballots. I also attended the error-riddled examinations of DREs and protested their certification to their examiner, Dr. Shamos, the governor, and the Department of State. I wish that you had googled my name to see only a few of my activities which made it into the newspapers.

As I became more involved, I realized the importance of public scrutiny of every step in the election process, beginning with the superficial pre-election inspection of the DREs through the totally inadequate so-called 2 percent audit that occurs. After a struggle, citizens in Bucks County now are present at all steps of the election process. I have become very aware of the possibilities for chain of custody failures and election official and voter fraud. CVI examined all the ’06 election records and found discrepancies between the number of voters in the polling place and the machine counts in that polling place. We are now in the midst of the process to check the November ’08 records for the same problem.

Where we differ is that I believe the paper ballots need to be marked in the polling place rather than filled out at home and sent through the mail to be processed by central count optical scanners and observed only by county employees in the courthouse.

At a voting integrity conference in Washington, D.C., I spoke with people from Oregon about their system. They, like you, have great faith in it. I believe that it does take faith to believe in a vote-by-mail system since the process is not observed by citizens from the grassroots level on up. A person does just have to have faith that every ballot has been delivered to the correct voter, filled out without intimidation, and counted correctly by the central optical scanners. One also needs faith to believe that there will never be any insiders in a courthouse wishing to tamper with the programming of the optical scanners or the returned ballots in order to see their party’s candidates win.

Incidentally, these people also told me that they needed years to install VBM and that they did not believe it would work in a state like Pennsylvania. Basically what they said was that the culture in Pennsylvania is not as honest as Oregon’s. Somehow I do not believe that all Oregonians are pure and honest or that fraud and intimidation would never occur.

2. I AM NOT FOR THE STATUS QUO. As the above states, I have worked for five years to change the status quo – to replace direct-recording electronic voting machines in my county with a voter-marked paper ballot system. The present state of our state economy makes this less likely at the present time; however, I will persist in this struggle to change the status quo.

Here is a link to the first article I wrote on the problems with DREs and the lack of progress in replacing them. If you had read it before responding, you might have had a better understanding of where I stand on this issue.

Madeline Rawley

August 3, 2010

Another Threat to Public Scrutiny of the Election Process

The Elimination of Polling Places through Adoption of No-Excuse Absentee Ballots—the First Step to All Mail-In Voting

By Madeline Rawley

As reported last month, the German Supreme Court ruled last year that the use of electronic voting machines in elections in Germany was unconstitutional because it violates the constitutional mandate that “all aspects of the election process must be available for public scrutiny.”

Meanwhile, here in Bucks County, we still must vote on these unreliable and unverifiable electronic machines. However, we do have very limited public scrutiny as pollworkers and poll watchers can watch absentee paper ballots counted by hand and observe their tabulation with machine counts in the polling place on election night. This tiny window of public scrutiny could disappear if Pennsylvania ever adopts no-excuse absentee ballots as 27 states have. (It may take a constitutional amendment.) No-excuse absentee ballots seem to be the first step to the elimination of polling places. In two states, Oregon and Washington, there are no polling places. All voters drop off or mail in their ballots.

One example of how a no-excuse absentee ballot voting state may turn into an all mail-in state can be seen in California. In their recent primary, in San Joaquin County, 49% of the voters sent in no-excuse absentee ballots. A county grand jury concluded that there was no longer a need for polling places and issued a call for all mail-in voting. Election officials like no-excuse absentee ballot voting because they don’t like having the public looking over their shoulders and finding pollworkers so they emphasize possible cost savings.

Here in Pennsylvania, well-intentioned groups like Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and minority and disability organizations are in favor of no-excuse absentee ballots. These groups have not focused on the loss of public scrutiny that results when ballots are mailed in, kept, and counted at the courthouse. They are motivated by their belief that this method of voting will increase voter turnout. Most research studies have shown that voter turnout does not increase substantially; some studies have shown that there is no increase.

Another unfortunate effect of no-excuse absentee ballot voting is that voter fraud and intimidation may occur. In a primary election this year in New Jersey, which has no-excuse absentee voting, 49 unopened and uncounted absentee ballots mysteriously turned up in a closet in the courthouse when a recount in a close election was requested. (This is not unusual.) The recount produced a new winner. An investigation found that the 49 ballots had been delivered by three men. Some contacted voters denied having voted. The on-going investigation with its finding of fraud and intimidation is detailed in these newspaper articles here and here.

In addition to this threat to election integrity, the elimination of polling place voting reduces the sense of community that develops when voters meet pollworkers and other voters from their neighborhood in the polling place. If citizens vote at home and the ballots are handled by anonymous workers and counted by machine in the courthouse, not only is public scrutiny lost and opportunities for fraud increased, but a sense of community disappears.

Voting in public at your neighborhood polling place is needed in our increasingly isolated society where people interact with screens and phone instead of other people. In Pennsylvania today, if a person is not able to come to the polling place due to his or her duty to be elsewhere on election day or a physical disability, he or she can vote by absentee ballot. Allowing everyone to vote by mail is convenient, but is that the value that should take pre-eminence in a democracy when some of our citizens have put their bodies on the line for our democracy? Why can’t voters, in order to preserve the integrity of the election process, express their belief in democracy by going physically to a polling place two days a year?

July 8, 2010

Election Integrity--An Update on the Lack of Progress toward Accurate, Verifiable Elections

Electronic voting machines are outlawed in Germany, but Pennsylvania voters have to vote on them here

By Madeline Rawley

Busily engaged as concerned voters must be in campaigns, there is little time to devote to fighting for and changing the many deep flaws in our election system so that the voters can be confident that the announced winner of an election is the true choice of the voters. These flaws exist in almost every step in the election process, beginning with, but not ending with, the voting machines we use here in Bucks County.

In 2006, despite warnings from computer scientists, cited by local voting integrity advocates, that direct recording electronic voting machines (DREs) were insecure and unreliable, Bucks County Commissioners purchased the DRE voting machines we presently must use. Because there is no way to know if the voters’ intended votes were registered and accurately counted by the software programming inside the machine, as there is no permanent paper record external to the machine, there is also no way to do a meaningful recount or audit the machine counts. In the 2006 Congressional election, despite the fact that the margin of victory was less than one percent, no recount was requested as it was recognized that the recount would be useless as the machine counts always remain the same.

Last year the German Supreme Court ruled that electronic voting machines could not be used in German elections. Their constitution demands that “all essential steps of an election are subject to the possibility of public scrutiny,” and they found that because “votes were exclusively recorded electronically neither voters or election boards were able to verify the unadulterated recording of the vote cast.”

Unfortunately, there is no similar clause in the United States constitution. In the case of a Pennsylvania lawsuit filed in 2006, it took 18 months for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to rule that citizens even had the right to sue the Secretary of the Commonwealth for certifying the use of these externally paperless DRE voting machines. (Secretary of the Commonwealth Cortes has just resigned to take a position with an electronic voting company that specializes in internet voting for military and other overseas voters, which is considered intrinsically insecure by computer security experts. Another example of the revolving door between government and business?) Despite another 2009 ruling by a Commonwealth Court that the voting machine companies needed to turn over the source code that they consider proprietary, the lawsuit has not yet made any progress.

In terms of legislative action, while there are proposed Federal bills in the House and Senate that would mandate the use of voter-marked paper ballots, and bills introduced in the Pennsylvania State Senate and House that would reimburse counties that switch to a voter-marked paper ballot, given the present state of the economy, these is no movement in favor of passage of these bills.

Nevertheless, while we must continue to vote on these machines, there are other flaws in the election process here in Bucks County that need to be changed – the subject of future articles.

March 12, 2010

"Antitrust and Your Vote"

New York Times editorial, March 10, 2010:
When the nation’s largest voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software, acquired the voting machine business of Diebold, the nation’s second-largest manufacturer, it set off alarms for anyone who cares about election integrity. The combination meant that 70 percent of the nation’s voting machines would be provided by just one company.

The Justice Department has now announced that it intends to block certain parts of the deal on antitrust grounds. That is a very welcome step, but the department and Congress need to do more to protect the vote. . . .

February 12, 2010

Florida Supreme Court rules in favor of paper ballots and random audits

The Florida Supreme Court has just ruled in the appeal of Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections et al. v. Browning et al.

They ruled that the major portions of our county charter amendment, Parts a and b, requiring paper ballots and mandatory, random audits (spot checks) of machine counts are constitutional.

Part c (requiring under certain circumstances that all ballots be audited prior to certifying elections) was ruled unconstitutional, but the Court severed part c from the law. Parts a (paper ballots) and b (mandatory spot audits) remain in the law and are valid.

We knew that the ruling on part c was a possibility, but are very pleased with the positive rulings for paper ballots and mandatory audits. The ruling that Florida law does not preempt home rule charter counties from adding protections for voters is a huge success. We still look forward to the day when the Florida legislature enacts a law similar to part c of our charter amendment which requires an audit of all ballots prior to certification if it appears that the machines may be malfunctioning.

As the first Article of the Florida Constitution says, "All political power is inherent in the people."

This decision is a major victory for the people of Florida.

Kindra Muntz
President, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections, www.safevote. org
Co-Founder, Florida Voters Coalition, www.floridavoters. org

Ruling is at:

December 22, 2009

"Significant court victory" in Banfield v. Cortés

John Bonifaz, legal director of, December 21, 2009:
The voters (petitioners) challenging the continued use of electronic voting systems in Pennsylvania won a significant court victory last week in their ongoing litigation, Banfield v. Cortés. A Pennsylvania state court ordered the major voting systems companies in the state (Election Systems & Software-Diebold, Sequoia, Hart Intercivic, Danaher) to produce the source codes and electronic voting machines for an independent expert examination by the petitioners. The companies, as well as the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth, had fought to stop the petitioners from gaining access to these source materials, even under a protective order preserving any alleged trade secrets. The court's order can be found here:

Other filings in this case, including briefing in connection with the motion to compel that led to this court order, can be found here:

December 19, 2009

"U.S. opens probe of Diebold unit sale--report"

Reuters, December 19, 2009: "The U.S. Department of Justice and 14 states have opened investigations into the sale of Diebold Inc's (DBD.N) voting machines business to Election Systems & Software that could lead to the unwinding of the September sale, the New York Post said on Saturday. . . ."

December 17, 2009

"Florida AG Probing ES&S/Diebold Merger for Anti-trust Violations"

"Demon coupling will result in company counting 92% of Sunshine State votes, at least 70% nation wide..." by Brad Friedman,, December 17, 2009, quoting Florida's Herald/Times.

"NH Voting Technology Committee to release report"

By Nancy Tobi,, December 16, 2009: ". . . They *might* announce intention to work with Harri Hursti, who is in fact back in America to launch his own new company developing and selling software-based voting systems. . . ."

December 14, 2009

"Disgraceful: Discredited E-Voting Vendor VP Appointed to U.S. EAC Advisory Panel"

By Brad Friedman,, December 14, 2009: "Federal body tasked with overseeing U.S. certification of e-voting systems appoints scammer Edwin Smith, VP of e-voting companies Sequoia, Dominion, Hart-Intercivic. . . ."

December 8, 2009

"Aspen's slippery slopes"

Bev Harris,, December 8, 2009: "Black Box Voting is now formally involved in a crucial public policy fight in Aspen, Colorado. Part of our role is to educate the public on the necessary argumentation to protect our rights. . . ."

December 5, 2009

"Pair of disputed ballots awarded to McGahan"

By Freda R. Savana, Intelligencer, December 5, 2009:
Republican Ed McGahan can now say he won last month's race for Solebury supervisor by two votes, not just one.

A county judge ruled Friday that two disputed absentee ballots should go in McGahan's column, affirming his victory over Democrat Dennis Mankin.

Judge Clyde W. Waite reversed the Bucks County Board of Elections decision to discount one absentee ballot for McGahan and affirmed the board's decision not to count another ballot for Mankin. . . .

See also "Judge Favors Solebury Republican Candidate in Two Decisions . . ."

"Ruling expected in supervisors race hanging on one vote"

By Jenna Portnoy, Intelligencer, December 4, 2009: "The question is how to count disputed absentee ballots cast. . . ."

December 3, 2009

"ACORN suit over voter registration settled in Ohio"

By Gabriel Baird, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 30, 2009: "Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has agreed to a legal settlement that will result in more low-income residents being registered to vote. . . ."

Solebury: "Absentee ballots at center of latest appeals"

By Jenna Portnoy, Intelligencer, December 1, 2009: "The supervisors election pitting Republican Ed McGahan and Democratic incumbent Dennis Mankin still hangs on a single vote. . . ."

"U.S. Judge Opposes Republicans on Elections"

By John Schwartz, New York Times, December 2, 2009: "The Republican National Committee will not be able to use election tactics that have been linked to suppression of voting by racial minorities without court supervision, a federal judge in New Jersey has ruled. . . ."

December 2, 2009

"Phila. judge Lazarus confirmed as election winner"

By Amy Worden, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau, December, 2, 2009: "Pennsylvania's first-ever statewide recount has confirmed that Democrat Anne E. Lazarus of Philadelphia won the last of four open seats on Superior Court in the Nov. 3 election, state officials said yesterday. . . ."

November 23, 2009

"Organized Crime Fighting"

By Nancy Tobi,, November 22, 2009:
. . . After the 2008 Primary, other national activists came to New Hampshire to observe the election recounts that had been requested by candidates of both major parties. I called them the Women's Brigades, because they were all women and they came to fight a democracy battle on the NH soil.

The Women's Brigade chased after state employees collecting paper ballots from cities and towns for the recounts. They staked out the state office buildings where the ballots were being stored prior to the recount. They filmed, videotaped, and documented everything they saw. And what they saw was shocking. “They're all dirty,” the Brigade Captain told me one evening. “You have to distance yourself from all of them.”

I had never heard her so rattled. I knew that whatever she'd uncovered, it was serious. . . .

When I finally reviewed all the evidence from the Brigade, there was only one conclusion I could reach: She was right. The whole election recount was a dirty and suspect operation. . . .

November 22, 2009

"NY-23 and the E-Voting 'Virus'"

By Brad Friedman,, November 21, 2009: "Recent allegations from the Right of malware on voting machines in New York's November special election may be overblown, but the long-overdue general concerns are right on point. . . ."

November 18, 2009

November 14, 2009

"Did Doug Hoffman Actually Win the NY-23 Special Election? If So, Does It Actually Matter?"

By Brad Friedman,, November 13, 2009.

"Pa. orders recount of Superior Court ballots"

AP/Inquirer, 11/13/2009:
Secretary of State Pedro Cortes is ordering a statewide recount of ballots cast for four open seats on the state Superior Court.

The recount may cost taxpayers as much as $1.3 million.

Cortes ordered the recount after one of three runners-up in a tight race for the last seat on the court , Pittsburgh lawyer Temp Smith , failed to waive his right to the recount. Cortes had given Smith extra time to make up his mind, but the 4 p.m. Friday deadline passed without any word from Smith.

The other two candidates had previously waived their right to a recount.

Cortes directed counties to begin the recount on Wednesday. The recount must be completed in a week and the results submitted to the state by Nov. 30.

November 8, 2009

"Solebury election result remains close"

By Jenna Portnoy,, November 8, 2009:
One is the loneliest number in Solebury, where a single provisional ballot could decide a supervisor's race.

Republican Ed McGahan bested incumbent Democrat Dennis Mankin by one vote, or 1,022 to 1,021, unofficial results show. Election workers on Friday reviewed the vote tallies from the township's four precincts, as Solebury officials and voting rights advocates watched.

The provisional ballot was cast in Solebury, although the voter is registered in New Hope, county elections director Deena Dean said. Commissioners, acting as the Board of Elections on Monday, will decide whether to take Dean's recommendation that the county should not count the voter's pick for supervisor. A public meeting is set for 2 p.m. at the courthouse in Doylestown.

But even after the provisional ballot matter is settled, Mankin could challenge an absentee ballot in which a voter checked his name, but then crossed it out in favor of the other candidate.

October 30, 2009

"Costs continue for voting machines"

Intelligencer News Briefs, October 25, 2009:
Commissioners voted, 2-1, Wednesday to pay the annual fees associated with the electronic push-screen voting machines.

The county paid Electec Inc., of Mt. Holly, N.J., $72,675 in software licensing fees and $98,685 for an extended warranty on 765 machines.

Commissioners Charley Martin and Jim Cawley supported the measure; Commissioner Diane Marseglia did not.

Sandy Schiff with the Coalition for Voting Integrity told commissioners during a meeting at Crossing Vineyards in Upper Makefield the county could have saved money on annual costs if they went with another type of voting system.

Commissioner Charley Martin said ongoing costs were taken into account when a committee of county employees recommended commissioners choose the Danaher voting system in 2006.

September 10, 2009

NY Times: "The Business of Voting Machines"

Editorial - "The Business of Voting Machines" -, September 10, 2009:
Diebold announced last week that it has sold its United States voting machine division to its main rival, Election Systems & Software.

Given Diebold’s troubling record, it is hard to lament its departure from American elections, but this sale could make a bad situation worse. Regulators should take a hard look at the anticompetitive implications. And Congress, the states and cities need to push a lot harder for fundamental reforms in the voting machine business and the way Americans vote.

Diebold has long been the company that critics of electronic voting love to hate. The company has been accused of illegally installing uncertified software and of making machines that, at least sometimes, drop votes. The company raised serious doubts about its objectivity when Diebold’s then-chief executive wrote a fund-raising letter expressing his dedication to delivering Ohio for President George W. Bush in 2004. Ohio, of course, was one of the states using Diebold voting machines.

The combination of the Election Systems & Software and Diebold American voting machine divisions raises classic antitrust concerns. Election Systems & Software, which has also been criticized for making unreliable machines, would be the nation’s largest voting machine maker by far. And states and cities, which have long complained about the low quality and high cost of the machines, would have less choice or bargaining power. . . .

More fundamentally, Congress, the states and cities should look for ways to have governments own and manage their voting machines, as the reform group FairVote has advocated. It makes no sense to allow private companies to count votes using secret, proprietary software. The federal government and the states should also require that all electronic voting machines produce a paper record of every vote and mandate random hand counts to ensure the reliability of the results.

Even if this business deal deserves to be blocked, it will take a lot more than that to fix the broken voting machine industry.

September 5, 2009

Invisible ink for MD municipal elections

"Literary Detective: On the Trail of Invisible Ink," NPR, September 5, 2009:
. . . Scantegrity and the government of Takoma Park, Md., partnered to conduct a mock election earlier this year, which went relatively smoothly. And though it might sound unusual in the age of so many electronic-voting machines, the city plans to use invisible ink for its municipal elections in November.

"It might have been kind of a hard sell to their board of elections, this new and untested technology," Collins says, "except that everybody actually recognized it from their own childhoods."

"Diebold finds election division buyer; ES&S to control most U.S. elections"

"Bargain basement sale price; anti-trust complaints to be filed; dreadful history of failure by both companies; by Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog, September 3, 2009.

August 26, 2009

"Case Challenges E-Voting's Constitutionality"

"Politics-US: Case Challenges E-Voting's Constitutionality" - Matthew Cardinale, IPS,, August 25, 2009. "A case brought by election integrity advocates in Georgia claiming that unverifiable electronic voting, or E-voting, is unconstitutional could spell trouble for the controversial practice, as it heads to the Georgia Supreme Court for a ruling."

July 19, 2009

Re the Holt bill, H.R. 2894

We at the Coalition for Voting Integrity have tried to provide voters with a range of opinion on the 2009 Holt bill, H.R. 2894, on this page.

June 24, 2009

"New York Times Wrong Again on 'E-Voting'"

"New York Times Wrong Again on 'E-Voting,'" by Brad Friedman, Brad Blog, June 23, 2009:
The New York Times just doesn't get it. You'd think, by now, they would. But they don't. And they should print a correction immediately.

In a brief, unbylined editorial yesterday [June 21], headlined "How to Trust Electronic Voting," the paper endorses this year's version of Rep. Rush Holt's election reform bill. The editorial is misleading and, even worse, blatantly (and inexcusably) inaccurate on at least one important point. . . .

NY Times editorial re Holt bill

Editorial - "How to Trust Electronic Voting" -, June 21, 2009. "Electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper record of every vote cast cannot be trusted. . . ."

June 17, 2009

LVW of Ohio v. Brunner settlement

The Voting Rights Project - The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law | League of Women Voters of Ohio v. Brunner: "In a giant step towards equal access to the ballot box for all Ohio voters, the Lawyers' Committee and its partners reached a landmark settlement with the State of Ohio that on June 15, 2009 will radically transform the way elections are run. . . ."

May 31, 2009

BradBlog's internet voting exposé

BRAD BLOG: "Virtually Voting: Bush's U.S. EAC Chair Cashes In to Head Company Running 'All-Digital' Elections: Paul DeGregorio's 'Everyone Counts' was paid to carry out fully unverifiable, unsecure Internet, phone election in Honolulu; voter participation plummets 83 percent to boot..."

May 28, 2009

Second letter to the editor re write-ins, letter to the editor of the Intelligencer, May 28, 2009:

Bucks machines get negative vote

To the Editor:

The assumption in your editorial, "Learning how to vote," that it is the responsibility of voters to know how to vote on a voting machine, is flawed. Tests of mental acuity, literacy or mechanical ability cannot be used to determine who can vote, and therefore, the voter cannot be required to know how to vote on a machine.
The Danaher voting machine we use here makes counting the votes easier for the election officials, but it places obstacles in the way of voters having their intended votes accurately counted.

The use of the write-in function is only one of the obstacles. The voters may not know that there are write-in instructions because they are on the left side of the machine, instead of next to the write-in mechanism itself, where voters might see them, if they are tall enough. If the voters do master the write-in function, after they finish pushing the buttons for all their candidates on the ballot, they also need to remember to push the "vote" button at the bottom of the machine to cast the ballot.

But the biggest problem with this voting machine is that there is no way to know if the voters' intended votes have been accurately counted, as there is no permanent paper record of these votes, external to and independent of the machine's software programming. Ironically, only the handwritten write-in votes can actually be seen and counted.

Bucks County commissioners need to discontinue the use of this Danaher voting machine and replace it with an easier and more accurate method of voting. Voters need to mark their votes themselves on a paper ballot so that a permanent record of all their votes exists for an accurate count, and recount if necessary.

Madeline Rawley

May 24, 2009

Letter to the editor re write-ins, letter to the editor of the Intelligencer, May 24, 2009:
1 vote, 2 vote, 3 vote

To the Editor:

The problems with write-in votes in our recent primary were not, as the Bucks County Board of Elections and your recent editorial suggest, exclusively the fault of voters failing to follow instructions.

I attempted to write in a vote at my poll and followed the instructions to the letter. When the door lifted for me to enter my vote, a previous voter's mark was already there.

Attempting to rectify the situation, the judge of elections joined me inside the booth while speaking directly to the Board of Elections. He reset the machine as instructed, marked the paper indicating the reset, and we repeated the write-in process. This time when the door opened, the judge's signature was visible where my vote should have gone.

For my third attempt, I was led to a different machine, where I repeated the process again and was finally able to cast my vote. Meanwhile, the first machine was closed down as inoperable. It remained that way for at least an hour until the machine technicians arrived and replaced the paper-feed mechanism. When they tested the replacement, it also failed before any voter had been near the machine. They replaced it again with a third device before fixing the problem.

The electronic machines purchased by the county continue to have significant problems, especially with write-ins. And, of course, we still remain at the mercy of the software inside the machines - absolutely unable to verify whether the final vote totals accurately reflect the voters' actual selections.

What we still need is an optical-scan system employing paper ballots that are marked by the voters' own hands, counted electronically for efficiency and retained securely for recounts and random auditing of machine accuracy. Until then, we will continue to disenfranchise voters and frustrate their will in the birthplace of democracy. What an embarrassment.

And, for the record, I have no idea if I cast one or three votes for all the other races on the ballot last Tuesday, and no one else knows, either.

Neil Samuels

Doylestown Township

The writer is vice chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee.

Intelligencer re write-ins "Learning how to vote," Intelligencer editorial, May 22, 2009. ". . . The county's Danaher machines have come in for a lot of criticism because they don't provide a verifiable paper trail and are thought to be vulnerable to tampering. If brute force were required to open the write-in window, that would be another strike against the machines. But pushing a button to open the shutter doesn't sound too terribly difficult. . . ."

Note: This webmaster DOES have sympathy for those voters who were confounded by the Danaher machines when they tried to write in a candidate. This voter was likewise frustrated by the total absence of a user-friendly, intuitive interface. Commissioner Cawley likes to think of 25-year-old technology as tried and true. The fact is that 25-year-old technology is by definition obsolete. We've traveled light years since this machine was designed. The Danaher is a dinosaur.

"Europe Rejects Digital Voting Machines"

"Europe Rejects Digital Voting Machines," Newsweek, June 1, 2009: ". . . A backlash against e-voting is brewing all over the continent. . . ."

May 20, 2009

"Machines malfunction in 5 towns" "Machines malfunction in 5 towns," by George Mattar, Bucks County Courier Times, May 20, 2009:

Election night turned chaotic in five municipalities as some voting machines were reported either broken or jammed late Tuesday.

Bristol, Wrightstown, Falls, Tullytown and Morrisville all reported voting machine troubles.

County spokeswoman Stacey Hajdak said the Board of Elections will be looking into this problem immediately.

I can't tell you the exact problems of each machine until a technician examines it. Those answers should be available [today],'' she said.

In Wrightstown, two of the three machines in the township were jammed with paper, described as write-in ballots, said Supervisor Chairman Chester Pogonowski.

In Falls, two machines were broken at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary School, said Democratic Supervisor Jonathan Snipes.

Two machines were reported broken in Bristol and one each in Tullytown and Morrisville.

Morrisville, Tullytown and Bristol were able to retrieve the votes from the malfunctioning machines. . . .

May 17, 2009

"Bilingual ballots likely after census"

"Voting chief: Bilingual ballots likely after census,", May 16, 2009:
Wilkes-Barre — English is the only language on the ballots for this Tuesday’s primary election in Luzerne County, but that may change after the 2010 U.S. Census, Director of Elections Leonard Piazza said at Friday’s election board meeting.

The growing Hispanic population, especially in Hazleton, will likely force the county to generate bilingual ballots after the 2010 census is done, Piazza said. If the U.S. Census shows that at least 4 percent of the voting-age population in a polling precinct is not proficient in English, then bilingual ballots for the entire municipality are required, Piazza said.

Piazza predicts a few precincts in Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre and Pittston Township will reach the qualifying percentage. But even if it’s one precinct only, all voting machines in the county will be equipped with the Spanish ballot; Piazza said the county can’t buy the Spanish ballot software for just one area. . . .

"Clueless" industry report criticized

"Voting machine expert criticizes 'clueless' industry report," Ars Technica, April 20, 2009.

May 15, 2009

"NJ election system still has flaws"

Report: "New Jersey election system still has flaws,", May 12, 2009. ". . . [In addition to the other flaws described in the report:] Observers from the League and ACLU contend the secrecy of the counting mechanism in the paperless machines used in these counties violates the legal requirement for an 'open and public examination' of the count."

ACLU press release re report.

May 9, 2009

Electronic voting machine flaw

"Flaw found in electronic voting machines,", Darryl R. Isherwood, May 3, 2009:

When 197 absentee votes disappeared from an electronic voting machine in California, officials were baffled. When the machine's log showed no trace of the votes -- neither cast nor erased -- they were shocked, even angry.

The company that sells the machines said the vote-counting software in the California machines was flawed and would be fixed in a newer version. Outside California, no problems involving actual reports have been reported.

But Premier Election Solutions' search for California's problem uncovered a potentially more troubling flaw in every version of the company's software, which also is used in machines in Lehigh and eight other Pennsylvania counties. The affected machines scan paper ballots -- generally absentee votes -- and upload them to a central server.

The problem: Deleted votes do not register on the audit log in all instances and could potentially go unnoticed -- and thus uncounted -- by county election officials.

Lehigh County Clerk of Elections Stacy Sterner, who oversaw a test run of the optical scan machines in November, said she is comfortable that safeguards are in place to ensure no votes are lost. Election employees count the number of absentee votes and would be aware if a large number did not register in the final tally.

But Sterner acknowledged that a small number of missing votes might be missed by employees and, without the log showing the deletion, might not be recovered.

"If we were missing a large chunk, we would know that right away,'' Sterner said. ''But if we were missing only a small amount, that might go unnoticed.''

Formerly sold by Diebold, now known as Premier , the optical -scan machines as they as they are known, scan paper ballots -- usually absentees -- and upload vote totals to a central computer. Whether the issue uncovered in California affects Premier's touch-screen machines, used in at least 16 counties in the state, including Lehigh and Carbon, remains unclear. [continued>>]

April 30, 2009

Board of Elections meeting, April 28, 2009, April 29, 2009: "Board discusses ways to improve elections: Judges of election want to count absentee ballots before the polls close, force party loyalists to keep their distance from voters and allow early voting. . . ."

Supreme Court and Voting Rights Act

"A Turning Point for Voting Rights Law: Room for Debate Blog,", April 29, 2009. "The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the constitutionality of a central provision of the Voting Rights Act, considered one of the most effective civil rights laws passed by Congress. The provision, known as Section 5, requires states and local governments with a history of discrimination to obtain advance federal permission, or 'preclearance,' before changing their election laws."

April 8, 2009

"Pennsylvania doesn't need new voter ID law"

By Kathryn Boockvar, Morning Call, April 7, 2009. "The state Senate State Government Committee recently tabled a bill that would require photo IDs for all voters after scores of voters across the state expressed concerns about the burdens imposed by the bill. Some senators have expressed interest in revising the bill and giving it further consideration, but the Senate should listen to the voters and throw out the bill altogether." [continued>>]

April 1, 2009

Update from Brad Blog re 2009 Holt bill

The BRAD BLOG: "Holt's Election Reform Bill Edges Away from Disastrousness Prior to Introduction: 'Final' draft for introduction, committee process sees important improvement following criticism from BRAD BLOG last month; but substantive concerns still remain; a review of the good, the bad and the still ugly..."

March 29, 2009

EI groups weighing in on Holt bill

Check out CVI's "2009 Holt Bill" tab for a sampling of reactions from election integrity advocates to Rep. Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessiblity Act of 2009."

March 24, 2009

PA photo ID bill (SB 514) reprieve

Senator Charles McIlhinney (Bucks, PA) writes, "Given the concerns that have been expressed on this legislation, I have decided to delay further action on this bill until we have an opportunity to thoroughly review and discuss this legislation to address many of these concerns." Full text of the letter. Thank you, Senator McIlhinney! See also "Voter ID bill taken off table," Intelligencer, March 24, 2009.

March 20, 2009

Proposed Pennsylvania “Photo ID” Bill

Scoop: Proposed Pennsylvania “Photo ID” Bill, March 20, 2009. "A coalition of voting rights organizations expressed alarm over a proposed Pennsylvania bill that seeks to require all voters to show photo identification at every election. The voting rights advocates, including Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization with voter protection efforts in Pennsylvania, strongly oppose the legislation, and urge state policymakers to challenge the bill and hold public hearings before taking any action to move this legislation forward." Read more.

Tell your state senator to oppose photo ID bill

The Coalition for Voting Integrity urges all Pennsylvanians to contact their state senators and ask them to oppose SB 514. Senator Charles McIlhinney can be reached toll-free in Harrisburg at 1-866-739-8600 or at 1-717-787-7305 or; Doylestown office: 22 So. Main St., Suite 200, Doylestown, PA 18901, 215-489-5000, fax 215-489-5200; other senators at

March 19, 2009

PA LWV "strongly opposed" to voter ID bill

A letter outlining the strong opposition of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters to voter ID Senate Bill 514 was addressed to the Honorable Charles McIlhinney, chair of the Senate State Government Committee, and hand-delivered to its members on March 19, 2009. Text of the letter. Senate Bill 514.

PA voter ID bill opposed

Groups announce opposition to voter ID requirement, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 18, 2009. The twenty or so groups "include the ACLU, the Black Political Empowerment Project, Common Cause, Democracy Rising Pennsylvania, the NAACP National Voter Fund, Just Harvest, the Disability Voting Coalition and the SEIU State Council" as well as the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Coalition for Voting Integrity.

March 9, 2009

Inquirer re Sequoia electronic voting machines

Editorial: Electronic Voting Machines, Philadelphia Inquirer, 02/28/2009

"...It's beyond clear now that the Sequoia Voting Systems machines in use in most New Jersey counties -- and some in Pennsylvania, includingMontgomery County -- were an expensive mistake at best...."

March 8, 2009

New Version of Holt's Election Reform Bill

The BRAD BLOG: New Version of Holt's Election Reform Bill Would Institutionalize Touch-Screen Voting, Secret Software: "New Version of Holt's Election Reform Bill Would Institutionalize Touch-Screen Voting, Secret Software
Bill 'improved' to require paper ballots, but they may be marked or printed by computer devices which offer most of the same dangers as current Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) devices...
Additional concerns remain in the previously-defeated, newly-rewritten draft version of the landmark legislation..."

CVI's March 7, 2009, Fun-Raiser Raising money, awareness for voting integrity, by Gary Weckselblatt, Bucks County Courier Times/Intelligencer, March 8, 2009.

March 3, 2009

German Court Rules E-Voting Unconstitutional

German Court Rules E-Voting Unconstitutional, Germany, Deutsche Welle, 03.03.2009

"Germany's highest court has ruled that the use of electronic voting in the last general election was unconstitutional. . . . The use of electronic voting was challenged by a father-and-son team. Political scientist Joachim Wiesner and son, physicist Ulrich Wiesner complained that push button voting was not transparent because the voter could not see what actually happened to his vote inside the computer and was required to place 'blind faith' in the technology. . . . German hacker-cum-data-protection group Chaos Computer Club has been spearheading a campaign with the Dutch foundation Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet (We don't trust voting computers) to stop the further spread of electronic voting because of fears about the risk of electronic errors and the potential for abuse."

February 9, 2009

Northampton wins $1.7 million voting machine judgment

County doubts it'll collect from Advanced Voting Solutions
By Tom Coombe, Morning Call, January 31, 2009

Northampton County won a nearly $2 million judgment Friday against a company that sold it faulty voting machines in 2006. Just don't look for the county to collect the money any time soon. Following a brief hearing in county court, Judge Stephen Baratta said Advanced Voting Solutions of Frisco, Texas, must pay $1.9 million, plus court costs and interest, to the county. Now the county needs to figure out how to get money from a company that seems to have vanished.

''It's sort of a shallow victory,'' said county Administration Director John Conklin, who attended the hearing. ''It puts it to bed.''

The judge made the ruling after hearing arguments from Christopher Spadoni, representing the county. No one showed up to represent the company.

''Is the other side here?'' one of the judge's staff asked Spadoni before the hearing began.

''There is no other side,'' he told her.

The county sued AVS in December 2007 after the machines -- which contained a glitch that would not allow them to be programmed to handle certain candidates -- were decertified by the Pennsylvania Department of State. The machines have sat unused in a county storeroom since 2007.

The voting machines cost $2.1 million, $1.9 million of which was covered by a federal grant. After the state decertified the machines, the county switched back to its old lever system for the November 2007 election, then spent $1.7 million to buy new machines from Sequoia Voting Systems of Denver. But since filing the suit, the county hasn't been able to contact AVS. Its phones have been disconnected and e-mails are undeliverable.

''My information is that they're not around, if that's a good phrase,'' Spadoni said. It was good enough for Baratta, who said he would sign an order for AVS to pay up. Actually getting the money might be more complicated. Spadoni said the county will ''take all appropriate steps'' to collect the judgment. Conklin said the county may need to hire a collection agency.

''There are many judgments that are never collected,'' Spadoni said. ''The taxpayers got hosed.''