The Blog-O-Lection is a public service to provide context for current voting rights issues.(NJ) 5/09 - LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, ACLU NOW FRAMING E-VOTING ISSUE AS VOTING RIGHTS -
NOW HERE'S PROGRESS: In New Jersey recently, the League of Women Voters and the ACLU began framing objections to paperless touch-screens as VOTING RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. At the end of the mainstream news article in the link below (the article details recurring voting rights problems in New Jersey), the LWV and ACLU contend that the secrecy of the counting mechanism in the paperless DRE machines used in these counties violates the legal requirement for an "open and public examination" of the count.
Germany's equivalent of our Supreme Court concluded the same thing, banning e-voting and going back to hand counts after concluding that the secrecy involved in counting votes out of sight on computers violates rights and is unconstitutional.
We are beginning to see real, meaningful progress towards solutions as we succeed communicating more accurate frames for voting machine problems. It isn't about "security." It's about our right to self-government and our right to freedom of information. If we can't see how our votes are counted; If our votes are counted in secret on computers that insiders and their vendors control, we have transferred control from The People to government insiders.
Public controls can be returned to modern-day elections in many ways, often inexpensively. Among the improvements already demonstrated using a VOTING RIGHTS/CITIZEN-BASED CONTROLS approach are the Humboldt County (Calif.) method, time slices as done in the Iowa Democratic Caucus, citizen hand counts of absentee ballot blocks as they are doing in Whatcom County (Wash.), and precinct-based hand counts as done in New Hampshire and Maine. And there are other methods, such as allowing precinct-based public comparison of input to output. Brainstorming and pilot-testing the right solutions starts with accurately identifying the problem with computerized counting, as a RIGHTS issue. Mainstream news article about New Jersey voting problems:http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/state/report-jersey-election-system-still-has-flaws
(TN) 5/09 - STATE: 28 ELECTION OFFICIALS FIRED (SO FAR) IN PATRONAGE MASSACRE -A recent state attorney general opinion suggests that these fired election administrators stand a good chance of success if they challenge their dismissals in court -- so stay tuned, I guess, for the lawsuits -- but state Election Director Mark Goins takes the position that election directors can be replaced at any time.
Party-centric election administration ignores the real constituency for elections, the public. An inside advantage is gained for partisan election officials when the system uses secret vote counting and fluid voter lists, both in place in Tennessee.
To be clear: Computerized vote-counting, whether on optical scan or on DREs, with paper ballots or without, is heavily reliant on the computerized compilation done by the central tabulator, which is under direct control of the election administrator and those he selects as IT administrators. These central tabulators have nifty features to allow manual changes in the vote counts. You control the tabulator, you own the election. What is happening in Tennessee is that political parties are choosing to put their own people in control of the computer, based on party affiliation.
By "fluid voter lists" I mean voter status lists that change from moment to moment, lacking frequent, mandatory procedures to "commit the data" (freeze it as of a point in time) and make it available so that changes from iteration to iteration can be compared. These voter lists incorporate voting status (ie, has/has not already voted in this election; has/has not voted absentee; etc). The Tennessee partisan massacre is putting a blanket of, in this case Republican, partisan election administrators in control of these fluid and unaccountable voting lists. Mainstream news article about partisan massacre:
(USA) 5/09 - VAST POTENTIAL FOR PROGRAMMERS TO EMBED SUNLIGHT INTO DEMOCRACY -This article describes many new, exciting uses of technology to open up our government to the public. The idea is to find as many ways as possible to computer-code "The People" back into "We the People" to improve our ability to self-govern. Some public officials and freedom of information groups like the Sunlight Foundation have sponsored contests to spur citizen-based programming applications. There is vast potential for these kinds of applications in elections.
Florida Fair Elections founder Susan Pynchon has been calling for putting voting system audit logs on the Web, a concept we support 100 percent. The 2008 Iowa Democratic Caucus pulled in brilliant open source live-time detail reporting, offering time slices almost second-by-second (detail data committed in a series of points in time). You could literally see the detailed voting results on the Web and call your friend while he was at the caucus to confirm that he was seeing the same counts in person.
Humboldt County citizen Mitch Trachtenburg developed an application to allow citizens to sort and count ballots scanned on a high-speed scanner, to confirm the results, after Humboldt County citizen Kevin Collins helped persuade the county to purchase an off-the-shelf high speed scanner to scan all ballots to disk, made available to the public. Using this method, citizens discovered that the Diebold software had missed counting hundreds of votes. California's Open Voting Consortium has been advocating and developing open source (public) software for our voting systems. In our Tool Kit 2008 ( http://www.blackboxvoting.org/toolkit2008.pdf ) Canadian citizen volunteer John Howard details how to use free Web capture software to grab and freeze incoming election results and exit poll data as it rolls in, allowing analysis of data time slice to time slice. The article below describes how applications are being developed to give citizens all kinds of access to legislative bills, campaign data, and more. Mainstream news article about citizen-based public interest software:
(PA) 5/09 - PHILADELPHIA: CITIZENS ASSERT RIGHTS, CITY FINALLY AGREES TO PUBLISH ELECTION RESULTS