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HR 811 Stalls in House, CA SoS Bowen on DREs and the FL taser incident

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   4 comments
Message Allegra Dengler
Below: HR 811 stalls in the house. CA Secretary of State Bowen
gives an astute analysis on why paper trails don't protect the vote.
And at the bottom, a link to the YouTube video of the FL student who was tasered this week after asking John Kerry why he conceded amid all the problems in the 2004 election.


"House Paper-Trail Bill Stalled" according to Roll Call:

"House Democratic leaders . . . keep . . . paper ballot bill in the
freezer this week . . .continued opposition from local elections
officials, . ."

"Other states would have to have a voter-verifiable paper ballot or
paper printout by next year's presidential election. That has drawn
opposition from state and local elections officials who are concerned
about the costs and risks in changing their systems so close to the


A transcript of a 9/16/2007 teleconference with California's
Secretary of State Bowen is available:

A Snippet of Bowen's Conversation that applies to DRE voting systems:

"What's already happened, regardless of whether the Holt bill passes or not, is that most jurisdictions who are purchasing new equipment are no longer seriously considering electronic voting machines, direct recording electronic voting machines.

It's just too risky an acquisition, given that there are no states
that are experiencing issues and no federal bills that are proposing bans on optical scan-based systems, I don't think whether the Holt bill passes or not that we will see new touch-screen voting systems deployed. But that's really the point of controversy and I will (pause) think it's important again to look at the research and the paper trail is really problematic.

The theory is good, the idea that voters would verify their vote before casting it. But I saw a paper presented in August when I was in Boston that really looked to the question of how many
people notice if there is a difference between what's on the paper
trail and how they voted. And I'd have to look at the study to get you the exact numbers, but the rate at which people noticed errors even when as many as eight errors were introduced in the paper trail was astonishingly low.

Fewer than half of voters noticed even as many as eight discrepancies between the manner in which they had cast their
ballots and what was reflected on the paper trail. And what that means is that it's not a useful check on the accuracy of the equipment.

So I don't think we ought to be encouraging the use of a system that theoretically provides an audit but because of the way people actually use it, doesn't. And that's my view of the way that the paper trails currently work. It's, if everyone did check every single contest in which they voted I think the lines would be out the door because it would take so much time, and if you have to go back, it's a fairly time-consuming process, to be able to page back and do it and then review the whole ballot again.

Indeed, one of the exploits on one of the voting machines relied on
the fact that many people don't review the paper trail. The Red Team added a little piece of code that changed the result both on the electronically recorded ballot and on the paper trail. If the voter
noticed and went back, the software in essence said, "Uh-oh, I better do this right the next time and corrected it," but if the voter didn't notice, and again I go back to the study that says more than half of voters don't notice, then the paper trail matches the wrong electronic ballot and you have no way of knowing that votes weren't recorded correctly.

So I think for transparency reasons alone, optical scan, which is a voter-marked paper ballot, or the AutoMARK is a computer-marked paper ballot, is just a superior way to go right now."

To read all of Bowen's comments:


BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 9/18/2007 1:10PM
Tasered Student, Waving Greg Palast Book, Asked Kerry About Conceding
2004 Presidential Election
'In this book, it says five million votes were supressed. Didn't you
want to be President?' Asks 21-Year-Old Prior to be Dragged Off by

....The blurry-ish video version of the incident seen at right, shows
the entire statement and questions asked by University of Florida
student Andrew Meyer. He was waving the recently released paperback version of investigative journalist Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse and recommend the book to Kerry before asking him about his early concession to the 2004 Presidential Election.

"He says you won the 2004 Election, isn't that amazing?," proclaimed Meyer referring to Palast's claims in the book. The 21-year-old student continued on to speak about "multiple reports of disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida and Ohio on the day of the election" and "electronic voting machines in Volusia County, Florida that counted backwards."

"So amidst all of these reports of phony, bogus stuff going on, how
could you concede the election on the day?," he asked as security
guards surrounded him. "How could you concede the 2004 election onthe day? In this book, it says there were five million votes that
were suppressed. Didn't you want to be President?!"

..."If you let me go, I'll walk out of here," Meyer's can be heard
pleading with the uniformed University security team on the short
video after being dragged away from the microphone.

A female voice can be heard shouting "do it now!". Though it's
unclear from the tape whether or not the comment is coming from one of the officers and whether or not it was meant as encouragement to use the Taser on Meyer, who can shortly thereafter be heard screaming as he was allegedly zapped by one or more of the officers.

RAW STORY's coverage reports that Kerry was unaware a Taser gun was used until after he'd left the building. Though the former Democratic Presidential Nominee is heard on tape attempting to speak to Meyer's question as the 21-year-old student is heard apparently screaming in pain --- just moments after he is heard pleading: "Don't taze me bro, I didn't do anything."

...I continue to be troubled that neither Kerry, nor the bulk of the
people in the audience appeared to take any action. Kudos to whoever was yelling near the end of the video above "what are you doing?!"

...I'm troubled that so many there seem to feel that though "he
shouldn't have been tasered", it's okay that he was, because he was less than polite. Or something. If he didn't deserve to be tasered, then that's the end of it. Period.

The lack of outrage at such behavior, and the passivity displayed by
both Kerry and the audience, along with those who seem to think such an overly-violent reaction is just fine --- to what appears to be a non-threatening situation --- is very troubling. What is says about our society today has been reminding me all day of the old "When They Came for Me..." poem.

The First Amendment doesn't include a Politeness Clause as far as I'm aware.

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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