Note that this letter deals with issues that are national in scope. In keeping with our priorities at Black Box Voting, deals with the core issue of public rights in public elections in addition to addressing specific talking points against no-fault absentee and for checks and balances for the same-day registration process. (PDF version here: http://www.bbvdocs.org/DC/DC-Election-Reforms-letter.pdf(226 KB))
You will also see the issue of public rights in public elections addressed in our anti-trust letter to the USDOJ. (That letter can be found here:
(1100 KB) )
I strongly urge the election reform community to begin to address these core issues -- public right to see, verify and authenticate all essential components of elections -- as well.
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Letter sent by Black Box Voting to each member of the Washington D.C. Council:
Oct. 7, 2009
1. REQUEST TO HOLD OFF ON NO-FAULT VOTE-BY-MAIL
2. Checks and Balances need to be articulated for Same-Day Registration
3. Public rights in public elections
Black Box Voting is a national nonpartisan nonprofit elections watchdog group. Here are our concerns regarding the upcoming changes in D.C. elections processes:
1. MOVING TO NO-FAULT ABSENTEE: This conceals who cast the votes that are counted, opens up very difficult challenges for ballot chain of custody, introduces unregulated and concealed authentication software, and can reduce ballot privacy. It is the new trend, but dependent on processes that are concealed from the public, and on technology and high risk signature databases which can be manipulated by insiders.
Need-based absentee voting contains checks and balances missing from no-fault absentee voting, and also caps risks at about 10-12 percent of ballots cast. Absentee voting should be limited to need only. We urge you to hold off on this trendy but unsafe change.
In a nutshell: Vote-by-mail conceals who casts the vote. At issue is protecting voter's rights by making sure the public is allowed to scrutinize and verify all essential components of public elections, and protecting voting rights by minimizing opportunity for inside tampering. Absentee voting has a history of inside tampering, most recently in New Jersey.(1)
Absentee voting carries higher risks than polling place voting. First, a real person need not show up, opening opportunities for insiders to submit counterfeit ballots to exploit vacant spaces from voters with a history of non-regular voting. Insiders can selectively purge votes from eligible voters by failing to authenticate certain envelopes' dates or signatures, and insiders can stuff the ballot box by authenticating ballots that are ineligible. A history of such exploits exists; for example, see Lake County (IN).(2)
Here are some additional exploits specific to mail-in voting: The oops excuse: Voting machine vendors and ballot printers have a history of sending wrong ballots, omitted ballots, late ballots and privacy-stealing ballots.
One of these problem vendors is Sequoia Voting Systems, the vendor you use in Washington D.C. During the crucial 2008 general election, Sequoia Voting Systems reported to Denver County (Colo.) that it had mailed 21,450 ballots, when it actually only mailed 10,364 ballots.(3)