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DOJ suit to take over NY elections: a critical moment in our struggle against electronic voting machines

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Below is a summary of the current status of the lawsuit by the the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ seeks to have the judge appoint a special master to force New York to buy and use new voting machines next year for the presidential election. Thanks to Marjorie Gersten of Brooklyn for this comprehensive summary.


The New York State response to the Department of Justice Motion to enforce HAVA is due by noon on 12/14/2007; The Motion Hearing is set for 12/20/2007 at 09:00 AM in Albany before Judge Gary L. Sharpe.

The election commissioners and the activists are finally on the same first page about NOT replacing the lever machines in 2008 , and not introducing new technology during a presidential year. All will submit opinions and arguments to retain the levers, provide just the disability component, but therein is the difference.

The commissioners still want the proven unreliable and expensive electronic touchscreen voting systems (DREs) for convenience, as flashy new. They may request to purchase that DRE as a disability unit with the recording function turned off, however much the DRE is not better for disabilities, and disenfranchises the civil rights of everyone. That preference for secret counting goes for Democrats as well as Republicans, maybe for the fudge factor, or other fears about poll workers and paper, generally. They should have a greater fear of electronics.

Other states are getting rid of them, cutting their losses, and we are on the verge of buying them.

New Yorkers for Verified Voting, the League of Women Voters, NYPIRG, and others are presenting an amicus brief that calls for PBOS (paper ballots/scanners) in 2009, with a goal of open source, state-owned paper ballot/op-scan systems. A second amicus brief is being submitted by Andi Novick of Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media and others, which argues that NY will be compliant in 2008 by using the lever machines.
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From Bo Lipari: "New Yorkers for Verified Voting believes this to be a critical moment in our struggle for paper ballots, scanners and ballot markers, and is planning and executing a response which will represent the interests of the voters of New York State to the Court. Obviously I cannot go into detail at this moment, but do want to assure everyone following the issue that NYVV has led the fight for verifiable elections in New York for over four years now and we will continue to do so in this crucial moment in the battle for paper ballots in the Empire State.

As the old proverb states, a time of great crisis is also a time of great opportunity. As always, NYVV will be on the front lines to fight the dangers and use the opportunity to further our cause."

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Andi Novick: Another amicus on behalf of voters is being submitted by Andi Novick of Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media and others. Andi Novick's amicus brief will first try to prove that the lever machines are HAVA compliant, so that it's not up to the Judge's discretion to decide whether to appoint a federal magistrate to decide for us. She is a proponent of hand counted paper ballots, which our commissioners refuse to consider.

Andi will also present the evidence of the thousands of breakdowns and failures of these computerized voting systems over the past five years. Amici will also argue that the vendors selling these systems are not eligible to do business in NY because they irresponsible, unethical and guilty of multiple offenses that violate NY's laws thereby precluding NY from contracting with them. See two memos Andi has written on this topic and the evidence contained therein.,

Teresa Hommel of comments:
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1. "The DOJ admits that electronic voting machines might have failed their certification tests in New York last year -- in other words they don't work -- but says we have to buy them anyway to comply with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and provide an accessible voting experience for the disabled and language minorities.

We ask why should voters with disabilities, and non-English languages, get a nice experience in a voting booth, along with a phony vote that might be switched in the machine to another candidate? We already have evidence that voters who ask the touchscreen to display their ballot in Spanish have had their votes disappear."

2. The ECANY (Election Commissioners Assn.) is now playing the role of speaking for all New York's county election commissioners, although in the past it said it was a "voluntary" organization. (Although the association is in favor of waiting until after 2008 to implement HAVA, they prefer electronic touchscreen DREs.)

Many commissioners assert that DREs and Optical Scanners have the same levels of problems, while the truth is that in November, 2006, out of 1026 trouble reports, DREs accounted for 760 of them, or 74%.

The timing of this legal offensive may be politically motivated and timed to disrupt the Presidential voting in NY in 2008, given that so many NY counties want DREs, which would be impossible to obtain and prepare for use so quickly. NY counties do not seem interested in voter-marked paper ballots whether counted by optical scanner or by hand, which would be feasible to obtain and prepare to use in the remaining time."


Counting on Chaos at the Polls
Notes the State Board refusal to eliminate the DREs (Direct Recording Electronics/electronic ballot)

Say No to Computerized Voting Machines A press conference on the attempted federal takeover of elections by the Department of Justice. Clear sound bites of the principles and what's in jeopardy.

Citizens resist federal DOJ takeover

New York vs. the Department of Justice Dilemma

Poll access for disabled heats debate, with lobbyists for the disabled holding fast for DREs, despite less accessibility.

Reality check on the disability issue: "Marin Co California has admitted that only 17 ballots have been cast in the past two county wide elections on their 130 AutoMark voting machines that they purchased for the use of voters with disabilities. That works out to over $45,500 per ballot. Oklahoma paid $1M to lease a telephone voting system last year. It was used by only 50 voters. Voters with disabilities must be allowed the opportunity to vote in privacy. We cannot go back to the days when they had to ask for someone to mark their ballot for them. However, some common sense has to be added to the mix. Why are states not going low-tech? There are options available." John Gideon, voters unite.

100 Professors Call for Optical Scan Systems to Replace Lever Voting Machines. Beware of Computerized Touch Screen Voting Machines, say Computer and Social Science Faculty

Opinion - HAVA lawsuit: Sad ending to important process

New York must work on HAVA

Voting-machine dilemma deserves interim solution. Legislators should consider resolution to provide reliable machines while state continues its testing program.
Case Against Op-Scans, which Mark C Miller admits was a wrong and inciting title. The brief argues that hand counts work with op-scans, as mentioned below.
Dept of Justice Department of Justice Trying to Force New York to Vote on Theft-Enabling Machines for 2008 Election.


Come to the newly formed 2008 New York City PDA and Meet-UP about Election Protection 2008, January 14, 2008 , Stone Creek Bar 27th Street between Lexington & 3rd, 7:00 pm.

They will screen two short videos: The new "Uncounted: The Hidden Math of American Elections" presents up-to-date information about the chaos of disenfranchisement that touch-screen voting machines created in the 2004 and 2006 elections. As well, show the 10 minute version of "Bought and Sold: Electronic Voting in New York," which exposes the lies and misrepresentations of electronic voting machine vendors as they try to sell their products to the NY State Elections Commissioners.

I'll be there, as well as Allegra Dengler from Dobbs Ferry, to give an update on the DOJ lawsuit and what you can do to help. She has real perspective on the lever machines, ballot design and the ability of partisan power to affect those votes RSVP:

"Uncounted" documents DRE issues

"Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections" and the Power of One


Should Voting Machine Makers Be Sued Like Big Tobacco?
(States are reluctant to sue longtime friends, and the very companies they rely upon for elections.)

By the Numbers: Photo ID Poll Restrictions Disenfranchise Minority & Elderly (read: Democratic) Voters

Voting Machine Mess Can't Just Be Fixed by Congressional Bills,pubID.27146/pub_detail.asp,0,5337231.story?coll=la-home-center
Electoral vote measure fails to make June ballot. The Republican-backed initiative in California, which could have favored the GOP presidential nominee, did not garner enough financial support.

Moonshine America? Collapse of the 'Trust Me' elections model.

Large Undervotes in Seven Ohio Touch Screen Counties In Cuyahoga County, OH, 20 percent of election printouts were unreadable.

VIDEOS: Will The 2008 Vote Be Fair? NOW Explores Many Of The Ways Republicans And The DoJ Are Working To Disenfranchise Democratic Leaning Voters

Be well, be activist, protect the vote,

Marjorie Gersten

Allegra Dengler
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522

"... touch-screen machines are highly vulnerable to being hacked or maliciously programmed to change votes. And they cost far more than voting machines should." New York Times editorial, March 9, 2005


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Allegra Dengler is a voting activist in New York State.

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