A document was released this week called:
"REQUEST BY VOTERS: To amend the bill formerly known as H.R. 550 (aka the "Holt bill") with remedies and recommendations for removing obstacles to democratic elections"
It is apparently supported by a wide variety of well-known election integrity activists and groups.
Although wonderfully intentioned and heart-felt, it unfortunately makes some ill-advised recommendations; contains factual errors; and omits the most crucial measure needed to ensure election outcome accuracy.
I refer to this above document as "REQUEST" in my response below:
The GOOD things in REQUEST are:
1. FREEDOM OF ACCESS TO ELECTIONS INFORMATION. This is critical for citizen oversight of elections!
2. A request that voting system use paper ballots. This is critical to enable independent checks of machine outcomes.
3. A statement that 2% manual audits are insufficient. Holt's previous audit provision is inadequate and did not require audits to be transparent or verifiable. See http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/paper-audits/ElectionIntegrityAudit.pdf
The BAD things in REQUEST include:
1. RESTRUCTURE THE ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION (EAC)
Argh. The US EAC is due to expire. It would be better to let the US EAC expire as the law does now! Its few highly qualified people, mostly originating from NIST have been overwhelmed by a plethora of political appointees and long-term voting machine vendor shills whose only qualifications are decades implementing flawed inauditable voting machines more accurately named "vote-rigging" devices.
There is no reason to re-authorize the US EAC!
2. "hand-counting" ballots
Hand counting ballots is not the most trustworthy way to count votes. There have been numerous proven cases of election tampering with paper ballots occuring since at least the 1800's and paper ballot tampering is provably occurring in today's elections as well. (although it often can only be proven months or years after the election when the records or ballots become available for examination). We can do better than this.
It is probably against the U.S. constitution for the federal government to specify particular voting systems (in this case "hand-counting") for states. That is why Congress has never done so before, and in my opinion should not, and will not, do so now.
The voting system that would detect more errors and tampering and be the most accurate would combine both hand counts and electronic counts.
3. election night precinct hand-counting of ballots
This could open a can of worms and access to retail tampering if not done correctly with a huge amount of resources and care. Manual audits if sufficient, verifiable, and transparent, "may" be easier to establish chain of custody procedures to secure ballots. I am certainly not against election night precinct hand-counting, but I would hesitate to legislate such procedures, for possible security and manpower reasons and for the same reasons stated above in #2.
4. REQUEST is rife with factual innacuracies:
For instance, almost the entire section entitled "New information available since the original introduction of H.R. 550" includes information which is not new and has been repeated over and over by computer scientists such as the Open Voting Consortium, the scientists of Project ACCURATE and many others since at least the November 2000 election.
Gross misstatements such as the one that claims that "The EAC Certification Program has created a system in which every jurisdiction, beginning in 2007, must replace or use uncertified voting equipment." are flatly untrue. States have ultimate authority over their own certification and can certify voting equipment or not based on any criteria that they chose. The federal voluntary voting system guidelines are just that - voluntary. The only requirements that states must meet today are the Voting Rights act requirements, the requirement to provide devices for people with disabilities to vote privately and unassisted, and the requirement that voting equipment either warn voters of over-votes or provide public education on over-voting.
5. REQUEST neglects to mention key measures needed to ensure integrity of election outcomes, including that that fixed PROBABILITY manual audits are needed to detect outcome-altering levels of vote miscount for any race with 95% or 99% probability based on actual margins between candidates and the number of vote counts. The closer the margin between candidates, the larger the manual audit must be to detect the amount of miscount that could alter a close race.
In sum, although supported by numerous election integrity activists, REQUEST is rife with misstatements, crucial omissions, and advice with questionable soundness and practicality.
I applaud those who signed REQUEST for recognizing the crucial need for timely freedom of access to detailed election data, documents, and information; and the inadequacies of the prior Holt proposal.
However, any particular method of counting ballots, including hand-counting or machine counting, cannot be made 100% secure and trustworthy, which is why it is crucial to subject all elections to scientific, transparent, verifiable, independent audits, just like every other major U.S. industry is subjected to scientific independent audits.
The provisions of REQUEST would return us to the days of retail, as opposed to wholesale, election tampering - a huge improvement over where we are today! However we can do better than that.
Sound and practical recommendations for making our U.S. election systems more accountable, trustworthy, auditable, and accurate than they have ever been in U.S. history are available here:
also available here:
with details here:
and experts to help with the details
Please read our well-considered practical recommendations and forward this press release
to your US House and Senate representatives:
Thank you very much.
I applaud the folks who signed onto REQUEST for their concern for democracy and invite them to study our recommendations.
National Election Data Archive
Dedicated to Accurately Counting Elections