I understand the public has 5 days from the Hearings held today (February 7, 2007) to submit comment which will be accepted by the committee. Please advise if I am incorrect about that.
I listened to the Hearing this morning and while I greatly appreciate that someone is finally paying attention to what will one day be seen as the greatest crime in the history of this country, I was deeply dismayed by many of the comments from those you'd called to testify.
No one expressed the fundamental understanding that these are the people's elections. No one had asked the people what they want (although in a Zogby poll taken this past summer, when offered a choice between "Citizens have the right to view and obtain information about how election officials count votes" or "Citizens do not have the right to view and obtain information about how elections officials count votes," 92% of those polled agreed with the first statement). I recognize that in a representative form of government like ours is supposed to be our elected officials make decisions on behalf of the people. But this is a unique situation in which, as you said, people don't know who was really elected. Moreover no one asked us what we wanted when HAVA determined for us that we would lose our historical right as citizens to oversee our elections. There is somewhat of a conflict of interest here which only fuels the distrust. Our might have been elected officials didn't ask when they went ahead and passed legislation which impacts their re-election, but when we were asked, 92% of us said in essence we don't want electronic voting displacing our right to oversight and transparency.
I live in New York where we have yet to choose voting machines and where our state Election Law sec 9-102, et. al, still talks about watchers: quite literally people chosen by the candidate or party or independent body to be present at the polling place in order to watch the entire election process from the "examination of any voting machine or ballot box at the opening of the polls, until after the signing of the inspectors' returns and proclamation of the result." The watchers are there to insure the integrity of the vote by observing and scrutinizing the process.
In order to preserve free and fair elections the public has to be able to observe the entire election process: In other words there must be full transparency. DREs deprive citizens and their government officials of their right to observe and supervise the people's election. Watchers cannot watch invisible ballots. What goes on inside the black box of the computer cannot be watched or observed by those entitled to watch and observe. The scrutiny that is required to properly ' watch' cannot be satisfied by watching a paper receipt produced by still another piece of software from a corruptible machine; particularly a piece of paper that can't always be read. (I must say I would not have believed the convoluted logic if I'd not heard it this morning during the hearing, but I actually heard more than one person describe the paper which comes off the DRE as often not readible and therefore, rather than conclude these paper trails are inadequate, concluded that accordingly the highly invisible and hackable electronic vote should control).
I don't know what happens inside the computer and I shouldn't have to rely on some computer person to tell me. If regular citizens can no longer verify that their votes are properly counted, we've lost our ability to be a free, self-governing people. This is not something the Legislature should be free to legislate away.
Notwithstanding the opinion testimony given by some of your witnesses today, your own NIST research staff has found that by using the DREs, which millions of Americans have no choice but to vote on, "a single clever, dishonest programmer in a voting machine company could rig an entire statewide election"! I heard some of the witnesses this morning dismiss the potential for grand scale fraud, disingenuously claiming that there's always been people willing to commit fraud and therefore we're better off on computers. That was another one of those illogical statements from this morning's hearing that everyone was too polite to question. Non electronic fraud requires a great deal of people willing to stuff ballot boxes. As your own experts say, with electronic fraud-- you only need one person to rig the election for the entire state! http://vote.nist.gov/DraftWhitePaperOnSIinVVSG2007-20061120.pdf http://vote.nist.gov/DraftWhitePaperOnSIinVVSG2007-20061120.pdf
The NIST research staff went on to say that even with the most rigorous overhaul of existing DREs "they would not mitigate the threat of malicious code inserted by an insider at the voting machine company". A malicious code could fix an entire election and 'disappear' any evidence of tampering. Attaching a verified paper trail to these DREs--Representative Holt's proposed solution-- does not help. The software could be programmed so that the electronic and paper records produced by the voting machine would agree--and both be wrong! See http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=17508 http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=17508
Moreover a 2005 study by the Caltech-MIT Voting Project which deliberately engineered errors into the paper trails, found: " no errors were reported in our post-survey data ... and over 60 percent of participants indicated that they were not sure if the paper trail contained errors." A majority of the participants were unsure whether there were any errors or not, and almost a third of the participants continued to insist that there no errors at all even after they were told otherwise by those who switched the votes.
Even your own Government Accountability Office found "significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting systems" which no one in the past 2 years since that 2005 report was released, has paid any attention to. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05956.pdf . Numerous university studies have also found these electronic machines are readily hackable (I'm sure they've all been submitted to you by others by now). And yet you had witnesses discounting the evidence of computer scientists with the same arrogance as scientific evidence of global warming is dismissed.
I appreciate that no one wants to admit they bought a lemon. But anyone who has had the misfortune of buying one (typically a car) knows that pouring more money into it will not fix a fundamentally flawed machine- be it a car or a DRE. And with DREs we're talking about our most fundamental right in a democracy! DREs have been shown to be terminally flawed. Why throw out good money to attach printers to the shoddy machine that breaks down, is expensive to maintain, is prohibitively expensive to run an election on, will probably have to be replaced shortly (I don't think the manufacturers give them more than a 5 year life at which point they'd have to be replaced) and as the NIST team also noted, "are vulnerable to errors and fraud and cannot be made secure"! It is at best irrational to keep DREs never mind throw more money at them.
As I once stated in an article I wrote about this (http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_andi_nov_061207_remember_the_pinto_o.htm)
"When it was discovered that the Pinto had a serious design flaw, seriousness enough to cause death by immolation, apparently Ford permitted those defective cars to stay on the road. Future cars could be redesigned, but as to the existing cars, well the money just didn't justify it. Ford had calculated that the cost to redesign and repair existing cars was greater than the cost of paying off possible lawsuits for resulting deaths and accordingly decided not to recall the cars. Another way of looking at the decision exposed by the infamous Ford Pinto Memo that revealed Ford's logic might be described as gross disregard for human lives in favor of profits.
Applying that same value-based logic to the threatened democracy of the United States, a committee of the HAVA-created Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has determined that although touch screen voting machines (DREs) "are vulnerable to errors and fraud and cannot be made secure" (translate: will continue to put candidates into office in disregard of the votes of the American citizens) Americans will nonetheless be required to continue voting on them!
Ford Pinto had to be taught by the people that our lives take priority over profits or money already wasted on defective products (the jury sent a message to Ford by awarding punitive damages over and above the compensatory damages in litigation brought by the dead Pinto victims). We have witnessed just how the HAVA legislation Helped America to Vote and we have seen how well the HAVA-created EAC oversees the integrity of our elections." (I am referring here to the growing Ciber/EAC laboratory scandal --which I also didn't hear mentioned at today's hearing-- that is revealing what election integrity activists have known for awhile: The certification process is a sham.
We the People don't want to vote on a Pinto. We don't want you wasting more of our tax dollars on DREs which can never be made secure enough to preserve our liberty. If we have to have electronic machines, we'll take precinct based paper ballot optical scanners (which we fully recognize can be hacked) but ONLY if a sufficient audit of at least 10% of all ballots are hand counted on election night (see http://electiondefensealliance.org/files/UPSEndFaithBasedVoting.pdf).
Congressman Holt's bill must be amended to prohibit DREs and to include sufficient protocols for the counting and auditing of our ballots. Please remember your oath to uphold our Constitution and recall that all power derives from the people. This is our elections and if we can't properly oversee them (not get some receipt to maybe count later) 230 years of this experiment has just ended.
Andrea T. Novick, Esq.
Finder Novick Kerrigan LLP
315 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10010
349 Ackert Hook Rd.
Rhinebeck, New York 12572
(telephone) 845 876 2359
(telecopier) 845 876 2350