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ACCURATE AND FRAUD FREE ELECTIONS NOW: A Solution

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ACCURATE AND FRAUD FREE ELECTIONS NOW: A Solution William Faulkner, MBA Retired Naval Officer Florida Verified Voting Shortly after taking office, Governor Charlie Crist realized that Florida had significant problems with the election process. The lost votes in Florida's 13th district and the obvious problems with touch screen machines caught the governor's attention. He endorsed paper trails almost immediately and then supported the replacement of touch screens (DRE's) with optical scan machines. In addition, Crist called for more citizen involvement and input, an abrupt change from the previous eight years of dictates issued form Tallahassee. I take Governor Crist at his word and as a result, I provided the following plan for future elections in Florida accurate and fraud free. That's a large claim but the solution provide within the following involves simultaneous a) optical scan counting and hand counting of optical scan ballot with b) the hand counted paper ballots serving as the ballot o record. Each process checks the other and the entire process serves as both a tabulation of votes and a simultaneous audit, conducted in the open by citizen's not private concerns. ************** To; The Honorable Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning Both the House and Senate Committees, Ethics and Elections This Document represents the collective thoughts of the Voter Verified Paper Ballot Movement and my own personal opinions as a founding member. The problems in Florida elections all come down to interpreting the intent of the citizen voters. When equipment is not cleaned, ballots are not on the proper format, or machines simply stop taking votes, the fundamental question is: what was the intent of the voter. We know that they intended to vote, we have an idea how this or that precinct might vote, and, from partially marked ballots, we can make a good guess at how they would vote. However, one truth above all remains: computerized voting alone cannot prove voter intent. When you have an unverifiable method of deterring the intent of voters, the line between Human Error and or Fraud has been blurred to the point that the two are indistinguishable. The only Justification for the cost of purchase and maintenance of Touchscreen DRE Technology is the elimination of Human Error/Fraud. That goal has not been achieved and in fact Human Error/Fraud has been multiplied exponentially many times over by the complexity of the Vendor's product. Therefore, "Touchscreen DREs are a failed experiment which needs to be totally phased out of this States Election Proces." The Paper Ballot does prove voter intent and the criticisms concerning manual counting from Election Officials are not justified. There are two things that must always remain clear in the minds of All Election Officials and the public: • The difference between a paper receipt and a paper ballot: one prints your vote out as represented by the machine, and the other is the manually created ballot that I refer to as Voter Verified Paper Ballot (VVPB). Many people mistakenly think of the former as a VVPB and it is not. • The difference between retail fraud and wholesale fraud: the effects of retail fraud are created by fooling with the paper ballots themselves and wholesale fraud which machines have the potential to employ. The difference is in the impact. Never before have we had the ability to change votes and vote totals. But now, thousands of votes can be changed in a hidden way by a single, or very few individuals. The focus seems to be on the former, when the latter is the real danger here. Discussion The difference between a "paper receipt" and a "paper ballot" is simple. A paper receipt is only an alleged facsimile of the way a voter's ballot was actually cast. But this provides only the illusion of validation. It is a trivial matter, from a programming point of view, to provide a receipt that may show which candidates whose buttons the voter pushed, even while the machine internally tabulates the electronically or mechanically cast votes differently. A paper receipt is not only useless, it is worse than useless because it provides a false sense of ballot integrity, and such receipts can be used as the basis for remuneration of those whose votes were bought by political machines. A paper ballot, on the other hand, whether printed by machine or marked by hand, is the official document by which an individual casts his or her vote. These may or be marked by hand or cast by a mechanical or electronic device and then printed by machine, and they may or may not be countable by machines, but they can be counted manually and provide an official and reliable record of the vote. Paper ballots, however, can have a rather wide variation in effectiveness as honest voting devices. The infamous Votamatic punch cards were paper ballots. The old mechanical lever-type voting machines punched holes in a paper journal tape that served as an unusual form of paper ballot. On the other end of the reliability scale you have Canada's ballot booklets, clearly laid out and designed in a manner that minimizes human clerical errors. It is Canada's system, or at least their ballot design, that we should emulate to a point (that point being having the ballots tabulated not by a private firm like it is done in Canada but by government officials in front of a bipartisan team of observers). Machines contribute nothing whatsoever to ballot integrity, whether in the casting or counting of ballots. In fact, machines compromise ballot integrity. Studies that show that touch screens minimize errors are of questionable validity, as they compare an electronic ideal against a paper half-measure. "Retail Fraud" is fraud that is achieved one ballot at a time. For example, when political machines pay individuals to vote the party line, they're operating with a retail format. Ezzie Thomas in Orlando was falsely accused of engaging in such retail fraud with the absentee ballots in the 2004 Orlando mayor's race won by Buddy Dyer. There was never a shred of evidence that Mr. Thomas engaged in any fraudulent activities whatsoever beyond the arbitrary and technical violation of assisting the infirm in sealing their ballots. Similar claims of retain fraud around the country in 2004 amounted to very little compared to vote totals. "Wholesale Fraud" occurs when entire vote totals from precincts or counties are altered without the cooperation or knowledge of individual voters. Connie Mack was accused of this in his U.S. Senate race against Buddy McKay in 1994, and it is also strongly suspected in the 2000 Florida presidential race. Retail fraud leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, as each voter knows whether he or she participated in the fraud and thus presents a constant threat of getting caught. Wholesale presents a far greater danger since it requires very few conspirators and may in fact be achieved by a single individual affecting thousands of votes, leaving no footprints at all, and with a high degree of stealth and impunity. Wholesale fraud can be accomplished even with paper ballots by, for example, stealing entire boxes of ballots before they can be tabulated. But this is far riskier than changing a line in a program code or penetrating a network-connected computer, which is all that is necessary to accomplish even large scale fraud on mechanical or electronic voting devices. The very bulkiness of paper ballots makes wholesale fraud far more difficult to accomplish without detection. The steps required to combat wholesale fraud where paper ballots are concerned are far, far easier to implement effectively than the steps to combat such fraud with electronic balloting or vote tabulation-it is as easy to stop such electronic fraud as it is for you to stop receiving spam emails-quite impossible, actually. And remember, if an election can be stolen, it will be stolen. The stakes are too high to resist. Federal Legislation The main issue that I'm presenting next concerns, "All future designs of Voting System Technology must be based on the use of the manually marked paper ballot," referred to as the Voter Verified Paper Ballot VVPB. Legislation currently proposed in Washington will mandate VVPB Nationally. So now's the time to prepare with an open Dialog. I urge you to consider this part of what the proposed Holt bill would do, what we would lose for 2008 and beyond when this bill does pass early in the 110th Congress?
A requirement that all voting systems produce or require the use of durable, hand-countable and separate voter verified paper ballot. A clear mandate that in audits and recounts that voter verified paper ballot is the ballot and vote of record. The complete elimination of paper roll printers and thermal paper. A requirement that notification be posted in each polling place informing the voter that the voter verified paper ballot will be the vote of record in recounts and audits and warning them not to cast their ballot before verifying the accuracy of the paper ballot.
I agree with SOS Browning, that until Washington decides which version of those Bills to pass, the Division of Elections should wait to certify any new Vendor products. Especially those which are for attachment and retrofit to Touchscreen DREs. However, the State should be prepared to certify as soon as possible a Ballot Marking Device for the Disabled. Court Cases resulting from the 2006 Election Current conditions left over from the Election of 2006, remain unresolved in the courts. One side the "Candidate & Voters" claiming Technology Malfunction with no way to prove it. The Defendants have the Laws of Florida which allows for Human Error/Fraud in the process producing a certifiable Election whether the vote count is accurate or not. Florida's Election Laws as exercised by our courts make Judges decisions invalid because there is no way to distinguish between Human Error and Fraud. This can be clearly shown by an analysis of the FL-13 case "Jennings & The people versus the State of Florida & ES&S." I'm not here to argue this case, that's the Legal Teams job. I would like to call your attention to ES&S's Defense witness statement, Michael Herron. "An ES&S expert has attributed most of the unusually large (for a high-profile race) undervotes to the design of the electronic ballots. (The expert also suggested that ballot design produced high undervote rates in other counties using touch-screens.) Furthermore, the expert said, he's 90 percent sure Jennings would have won had not up to 14,000 votes been involuntarily "suppressed." That assertion doesn't, however, merit a revote-although it does cast doubt on the efficacy of the results. Case law in Florida is clear that shortcomings in ballot design, alone, don't warrant a revote and the Sarasota County design followed specifications set by the Division of Elections. In addition, Jennings' lawsuit specifically contends that malfunction, not design, was the problem." Orlando Sentinel. My interpretation of ES&S's motives is to place the blame on SOE Kathy Dent's Human Error of Poor Ballot Design resulting in the Loser Buchanan being certified as a winner. This Legal Argument gets ES&S off the hook for damages, However in the Florida courts our Election Laws prevent Justice from being served. "Because even if it is proven beyond a shadow of a statistical doubt that poor ballot design cost her the race, the courts and Congress (if the decision goes to the House) are going to be very reluctant to challenge the results of this election based on anything short of machine malfunction or deliberate fraud. As we saw in Florida in 2000, results that are influenced by a confusing ballot still stand, no matter what the stakes." Orlando Sentinel. Florida has become the wild west for those who wish to commit fraud and our Election Laws make it Legal. It's time to correct these injustices in order to restore confidence in our Election Officials. Election activist have not made Florida the Joke of the Nation, the decision to eliminate the Paper Ballot, Recounts and the decision to purchase Touchscreen DRE's has definitely done that. Proposed Solutions Currently available In the Real world of Florida Elections, most SOE's already have Precinct Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) that use Paper Ballots. I'm only proposing a realistic compromise and Statewide Standards now certified by the SOS and the Department of Elections. The Manual Count of Paper Ballots is proof that the Voting System Technology is not Malfunctioning. The Machine Count is proof that there was no Human Error in the manual count of VVPB. By combining the 2 counts will achieve a "Transparent Independent Audit". It's so simple that I don't know why everyone does not understand we need this solution to stay out of the Courts in the future. Discussion Someday our Election Officials could come closer toward reaching their goal of 100 % Accuracy. "No other goal than 100 % accuracy is acceptable, because the stakes are far too high. Without the Voter Verified Paper Ballot no other form of evidence can serve as proof that Election Officials actually performed their fiduciary responsibilities owed to Florida's Electorate." When manual ballots are used, human error only affects individual ballots on a one error, one ballot ratio. When machine tabulation is concerned, however, a single human error might affect multiple ballots, perhaps a large number of ballots altered by a single "error" (a word I placed in quotation marks because some such errors are deliberately caused). In our elections the stakes are utterly enormous. The temptation to cheat, if there is a way to cheat, is irresistible. Any way votes can be stolen they will be stolen. With paper ballots, manually marked and manually counted in front of bipartisan witnesses, it is far more difficult to alter a large number of ballots by a single action, er, umm, I should say "error," than it is by any type of mechanical or electronic device. And in the long run, paper ballots are also easier for the voters to understand, far more confidence-inspiring, provide a better and more permanent record, minimize voter error, and perhaps most importantly, are much cheaper. I cannot conceive of any valid objection to paper ballots and manual counts on ANY reasonable grounds, unless the motive behind the objection is to permit control at will of the outcome of our elections despite the potentially contrary intent of the electorate. However, no system can ever be fully successful in eliminating error or the possibility of fraud. The starting goal instead is to implement a system that minimizes the opportunity and likelihood of voter error and, regarding fraud, renders it more difficult to achieve and lessens its potential impact on the outcome of elections, while making it more likely that the fraud can be detected and the perpetrators identified and apprehended. Every mechanical or electronic device that might be involved in voting, whether in the balloting aspect of it or the vote tabulation, works at odds with those goals. Any kind of artifice or device that intervenes between the voter and the tabulation of his or her ballot introduces an additional risk of error or abuse atop whatever such risk would exist for manually marked and counted paper ballots. Such a goal has got to be to implement a system that has as its chief feature ballot integrity, and to restore the confidence in our election processes that can only be provided by such obvious and transparent integrity. Everything else, all the arguments about "access" and various programming sources and verification and what not are just obfuscation. It is clear what we must do ensures that the will of the electorate is honored during our elections, which is the only aspect of democracy that has any merit in the first place. That is why the will of the people must be paramount in order to provide the only thing about democracy that has any value. It is only by ensuring the integrity of the ballot that democracy can maintain the people's faith. "Where do we go from here?" The below outline is a proposed realistic starting point for Dialog with the SOS and FSASE. These ideas are based on years of discussion with several of my own local county SOEs as well as over 20 years working the field of Private Sector, Federal and State government computer technology procurement. Coming to terms with a joint agreement concerning degrees of auditing will be problematic. So we need to start the process of open Dialog as soon as possible and that's always been my focus. Because of Glenda Hood's refusal to address our Petition from 100's of thousands of concerned citizens. We the People were not even given the respect of any Answer and found the Door to the SOS Closed to our voices. The solution to these Threats to our Nation's right for Accurate Elections, depends on the percent of Accuracy the SOS chooses. Cooperation and shared Knowledge has always been VVF's official Goal. Now that NIST has pronounced the impending death of all Touch screen DREs, Governor Crist needs to keep the SOE's Association's long awaited promises contained in the proposal Outlined below. SOS Browning needs to have an open door policy to correct the many injustices of his predecessors. Verified Voting of Florida proposes that appropriate Florida Leaders from the SOS & SOE's plan to hold a joint Election Reform Leadership Conference to exchanged concerns with Voter Integrity groups from Fla. As a starting point to open the Dialog with the new SOS, I suggest we go back to the recommendations of "The Governor's Select Task Force" and all of it's yet to be fulfilled promises. Other Issues of Importance to be considered as a step forward are; 1. Planning Schedule for Phase out of DRE's in the !5 counties not required by HAVA for Disability Use or the language challenged and other factors such as Early Voting.
a. Vendor Contract Renewal or Non-Renewal for failing to comply with request to reveal Voting System Source Code. b. Trade In options, considering Vendors inability to meet Security issues. DRE's for PCOS by 2008. c. Resale or Refurbishment controlled by Division of Elections of All Voting Systems paid with Federal Funds.
2. Creating a Non-Partisan environment for State Election Officials, SOS down to the county SOE.
a. Public Funded Campaigns will return democracy and those People's Voices that no longer can be heard. b. Partisan Rivalry Elimination as a major factor in Vote Suppression and Fraud.
3. Requirement of a "Transparent Independent Audit" to achieve the goal of 100 % Accuracy of the State's Elections.
a. All future Technical Designs for Voting Systems must require the use of the "Voter Verified Paper Ballot" (VVPB). b. The Voter's physical Act of Marking the Paper Ballot serves as the permanent record that the Voter Verified each selection 100 % of the time. c. Hardcopy of the VVPB comes first before any type of Technology can be Applied allowing the creation of 2 independent records of each vote. d. Voter Verified Paper Ballots are counted by an independent manual method. Those same Ballots are then run on PCOS and the 2 separate counts continue until each is brought into balance. Requiring these principle will Eliminate Human Error and Machine Malfunctions as causes of Voter Disenfranchisement.
Recent changes in Florida Election Law Instituted under the States previous Administration by SOS Hood, were clearly meant to serve only the Vendor's interests. Changes need to be made to correct this miscarriage of Justice. For over 200 years the Democracy our Founders created has used the paper ballot. There is no reason to Eliminate the paper ballot when it does not need to be fixed. What's really wrong is the vendor's ability to influence our Laws that were recently changed to eliminate the use of the Dually Accountable VVPB. It's the gold Standard of Business Financial Statements applied to our Elections. Respectfully, Bill William F. Faulkner, MBA VerifiedVoting of Florida Pensacola, FL Decades after his death, William Faulkner comes to us with a certain dignity my namesake said Phony Elections. Not just for banana republics anymore.

 

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