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Stop E-Voting in NY! Brennan Center Misses the Boat

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Brennan Center's NY E-Voting Case Misses Mark
Your Letters to the Editor Needed!

The ETC would love to see the Brennan Center for Justice live up to its name and the name of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who insisted upon public scrutiny of government processes. Sadly, its new case against the NY State and NYC Boards of Elections is another indication that despite its good work in other areas the Center simply does not yet understand all the dangers of electronic vote counting. We see their litigation as akin to fretting about the seasoning in a poisonous brew!

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The Case
Last week the Brennan Center For Justice filed suit against the NY State and NYC Boards of Elections to prevent election officials from configuring newly purchased optical scan voting machines in a manner that would likely disfranchise large numbers of voters. The suit was filed on behalf of NAACP, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the Working Families Party and other plaintiffs. At issue are procedures to prevent "overvoting," where votes are disqualified because a voter has selected too many candidates in a particular race.

Our Analysis
Of course it's important to require procedures to prevent overvoting. However, as we've repeatedly said, all protective procedures New York has enjoyed for centuries must be maintained, including the opportunity for meaningful public oversight of our elections. The Brennan Center's lawsuit, by focusing on a single protection, fails to address the much more significant problem: the State's insistence that counties deploy concealed fraud-enabling vote-counting technology in the first place!

If the case succeeds, overvoting may be less likely to occur, but votes could still be nullified by the concealed vote counting system the Brennan Center supports!

The suit acknowledges that lever voting machines make overvoting impossible, yet fails to mention that lever machines also cannot be secretly programmed or "hacked" to switch and miscount votes without detection -- which is eminently possible with optical scanners.

That's why we at ETC have been working so hard to bring our own lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of NY's Election Reform and Modernization Act (ERMA), which is forcing NY's counties to replace their existing secure, transparent voting systems.

A federal judge has ruled in the Nassau county lawsuit that federal law does not require replacement of lever voting machines. Yet the Brennan Center's case continues to promote the widely held misconception that the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates replacement of NY's trusted lever machines.

Read ETC's full statement about the Brennan Center case.

Please Write A Letter to the Editor
A recent editorial in the NY Times supports the Brennan Center case and fails to provide the necessary context or address its shortcomings.

Please write to the Times and your local paper and express your views about the optical scan voting systems and the need for transparency in our election system!

Here are a few talking points you can work with if you'd like:
  • All of NYS's votes are at risk with the new optical scan computerized vote-counting technology. Overvoting is a significant but much smaller problem.
  • The Brennan Center case is wrong in its claim that the voting system now being replaced by optical scan technology was out of compliance with federal law. A federal judge recently confirmed this in the Nassau election systems case.
  • The Brennan Center case may address a symptom but allows the disease to thrive.
  • Meaningful oversight by the public and even election officials is impossible when votes are counted inside computers, which can be programmed to produce any results, regardless of votes cast.
  • Without meaningful public oversight, our elections will no longer belong to the public.
  • The Election Reform and Modernization Act (ERMA) is unconstitutional and must be overturned in court. Nassau County's lawsuit against the State seeks to achieve this.
NYT letters should be under 150 words. An address and telephone number are required but will not be published. (guidelines are posted here). Send to:

If writing to your local paper, make sure to check their guidelines, which are generally posted at the paper's website in the "opinion" section.

We thank you for your ongoing support of our work and of transparent democracy.

Yours for transparent and accurate elections,

Joanne Lukacher
for the Election Transparency Coalition

Find us online at both and
Help us grow our Facebook group to 500 members. Click here to join. Following us on Twitter (@StopEVoting) is another easy way you can help us raise awareness about the lawsuit.

You are receiving this email because you signed up for occasional communication from the Election Transparency Coalition. You may have signed up back when our name was Re-Media ETC. We're the same group, simply with a clearer name. We've replaced our informal email list with a more formal one to bring you better quality communication in a more appealing format.

Our mailing address is:
Election Transparency Coalition
P.O. Box 127
Staatsburg, NY 12580

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Copyright (C) 2009 Election Transparency Coalition All rights reserved.
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