A roster of election-integrity VIPs filled the hour of this week’s Voice of the Voters, heard Wednesdays from 8 to 9 on Renaissance Radio 1360 am. Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) led off the dialogues, followed by Dr. Steve Freeman, author, academic, and activist, and information-technology analyst and activist Bruce O’Dell. John Gideon of votersunite.org was also on briefly with some important news.
Holt’s concern this evening was his emergency bill, the Confidence in Voting Act of 2007, a purposely short, concise document that calls for paper ballots in every election as well as audits (3–4% or thereabouts—“several”), to set a standard countrywide. Attaching printers to touchscreen machines is not an option, though better than the use of touchscreens solely.
States or counties would be reimbursed for putting such systems in place in time for the November presidential election. The congressman specified counties because they can still decide independently how they will vote, though statewide systems are also in place, in Florida and New Mexico as well as elsewhere.
Holt is confident, and cited New Mexico as an example, that a state or county could install the system he is sponsoring in time for November. He said Governor Bill Richardson accomplished this with optical scanners statewide in New Mexico in less than a year—seven months actually. He said that his colleagues are becoming more aware of the problems with touchscreen machines and hence will be more attentive and responsive than previously.
Ironically in Holt’s own state, New Jersey, an audit bill was passed yesterday, but with the unverified voting likely in November auditing is useless. The touchscreens will just reiterate the sum of tallied votes yielded as the official count. He said that fifteen, twenty, or more states will still have unverified voting in November.
And this will generate the problem that a large segment of the population will mistrust the results. As far as the prediction that Pennsylvania will replace Ohio as the trouble spot in 2008, Holt added South Carolina and New Jersey as additional possibilities.
He reiterated that changes at the county level are still possible, and that is in the hands of we the people, if enough of us act quickly to convince our media and representatives and election commissioners to support his pending legislation, which must be passed in a matter of weeks, not months.
Based on the realization of secretaries of state in Ohio, California, and California that touchscreen machines are worse than useless, Holt is hopeful that his bill will pass quickly. He plans for it to be a “suspension” bill, that is, one without amendment, but simple debate, requiring only a simple majority. Of course an equivalent will be necessary in the Senate.
Reliability, creditability, and accessibility are of the utmost importance, said Holt.
He was appreciative of the lead editorial in today’s New York Times supporting his bill and understanding its urgency.
Host Mary Ann Gould next raised a provocative question: if Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the decisive states this November and both are still voting on paperless machines, will there be a constitutional crisis?
Holt responded that he worries about all unaudited or unauditable elections, which he simply does not believe in. Switching the subject, he called statistics powerful and in the event of required recounts samples can have the same credibility as total efforts.
John Gideon next came on with news from Chicago that if a voter presses too long on the “select language” option on their Sequoia voting machines, he/she will vote also—for Obama if Democrat and Romney if Republican. At least that distinction will prevail.
In New York, the Department of Justice has given the state only until February 8 to decide between replacing their lever machines with optical scanners or touchscreens. In a compromise the state was allowed to equip its precincts with AutoMark devices for special-needs people rather than the touchscreens the DoJ would prefer. The text of Bo Lipari’s official alert is at www.nyvv.org, the site of New Yorkers for Verified Voting.+++++
Steve Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania, next to speak, expressed astonishment at the unprecedented differences in the January 4 New Hampshire primary between pre-election polls and the actual results. Obama was ahead by six to fourteen points, and climbing, on the day of the election. Then Hillary won.