For Immediate Release
California Election Protection Network
Press Contact: Dan Ashby 510-233-2144
CA Elections Staff Advises Against Non-electronic Voting Alternative for Disabled
Election activists support VotePAD as secure, low-cost, more accessible than electronic voting machines
Time: Demonstration and press conference, 9:00 a.m.
State voting system certification hearings, 10:00 a.m.
Place: Secretary of State's Office at 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA
Subject: Vote-PAD is the first non-computerized voting assistive device to be proposed for use in California elections to enable persons with disabilities to vote independently at the polls using paper ballots. The VotePAD is being evaluated for possible use as a disability access solution in conjunction with optical scan electronic voting systems by vendors Hart (System 6.2) and Diebold (GEMS-Accu-Vote OS).
Staff and consultants of the California Elections Division have issued negative evaluation reports recommending against state certification of the VotePAD assistive device intended to help disabled voters cast their votes independently. The Secretary of State usually follows the recommendations of the Voting Systems Technology Assessment Advisory Board in making voting system certification decisions.
At the same time as it released the negative assessment of VotePAD--late on Friday August 4, affording the public little time to respond--the VSTAAB also recommended certification of a suite of electronic voting devices and software applications by the e-voting vendor Hart Intercivc. The board gave the Hart system a pass, despite noting performance failures such as this one regarding the system's Tally software component that reads, stores and tabulates ballot images: "As in the previous version, Tally still cannot report vote results directly in the granularity required for the Supplement to the Statement of Vote (SSOV)."
The state reports on the VotePAD and Hart System 6.2 are available at http://ss.ca.gov/elections/elections_vs.htm.
Election integrity activists were dismayed by the negative assessment of VotePAD, and will be attending the certification hearing Wednesday urging at least a conditional certification of Vote-PAD as a secure voting alternative that solves disability access problems that the currently certified electronic voting machines frequently cannot (see http://www.vote-pad.us/testimonials.asp).
VotePAD proponents would like to see a noncomputerized alternative to electronic voting machines that are currently promoted as the only solution for disabled voting access requirements set in federal law.
Ann West, a longtime California grassroots election activist and educator, said, "Citizens shouldn't let corporations that sell electronic voting machines monopolize this field. There must be a diversity of choices to provide real competition."
Dr. Forrest Hill, Green Party candidate for Secretary of State, said, "I've been pushing for alternatives such as this. It's not a product endorsement, it's a matter of principle. There must be an alternative--a non-computerized transparent means of voting. I support what Freddie Oakley, the County Clerk of Yolo says, about the Vote-PAD, that it's 'no more hackable than a number 2 pencil.' So far, in tests with voters, including those with disabilities, everyone likes it."
[For VotePAD descriptions, see http://www.vote-pad.us/ and http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70036-0.html].
Sherry Healy of the California Election Protection Network points out, "The recent lawsuit against five California counties shows that disability organizations are dismayed that electronic systems only allow sighted voters to verify their paper ballot. The Vote-PAD deserves their support, since it provides a direct method of vote verification to everyone."
[See http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/blogs/tokaji/pva-complaint.pdf ].