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Secret Vote Counting and Corporate Proprietary Rights Have No Place in American Elections

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Testimony of Andi Novick before NYC Voter Assistance Commission,

June 28, 2007

 

I am speaking to you as a citizen, as an attorney, as the founder of Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media (www.re-media.org), a media reform organization which has taken the issue of our elections & democracy as its priority issue as New York moves towards deciding which voting system to use, but most importantly as a citizen.

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The discussion in NY has centered on which of the two types of machines offered by the same private vendors should NY choose. I would like to broaden that discussion to refocus us on the issue of which type of voting system best serves the democratic process and the citizens of New York.

 

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In a national Zogby poll conducted last year (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3276), responses revealed overwhelming public attitudes that have been ignored by our election officials and elected officials across the country, but in New York, which has not yet committed to a voting system, there is still the opportunity for those with authority to stop and listen and I'm imploring you to further that effort.

 

The Zogby poll responses demonstrated wide-spread public awareness of the potential for manipulation and fraud in electronic computerized voting machines.

The possibilities for tampering with both the touch-screen DRE and the paper ballot optical scanner (PBOS) – the only two options under consideration in New York – have been documented in numerous government studies, as well as University studies, that have found both DREs and PBOSs can be rigged without detection. (See Memo to Governor's office included, specifically endnotes 2, 3, 4,6). The Zogby poll responses demonstrated that the public too is widely aware of the potential for manipulation and fraud in electronic computerized voting machines:

– Almost 2/3 of the population sampled reflected this awareness, which was the same among Democrats and Republicans.

– Perhaps the most impressive number in the Zogby poll was the near universal response- 92%- of citizens stated that they believed they were entitled to view and obtain information about how election officials count the votes.

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– There was also overwhelming objection to private vendor specific software used to count votes outside the public observation. 80% of those surveyed agreed that computerized voting should be transparent to the public. That secret, proprietary software, meaning secret vote counting, is totally unacceptable.

 

And yet, notwithstanding our deliberateness in New York in waiting to make a decision and notwithstanding all we have learned from the mistakes of other states, privately controlled voting machines using secret, proprietary software are the only options the State Board of Elections (SBOE) is getting ready to start testing for certification. That would be both DREs and Optical Scanners, offered by private vendors who assert secret proprietary rights to the source code- the very information which directs the functioning of the computer, including vote counting.  

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Andi Novick Election Transparency Coalition, www.etcnys.org, http://nylevers.wordpress.com/
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