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The Ides of March

By Mary Ann Gould, Coalition for Voting Integrity  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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The Bucks County commissioners may make a decision on voting machines Wednesday, March 15, which could prove very costly to our citizens in dollars and, more importantly, in the integrity and security of our elections. There is no justification for purchasing touchscreen-type machines. Voter-verified paper ballots (VVPBs) are now required in over half of the United States, with many more states likely to soon legislate same. This is a result of very serious security and reliability flaws inherent in current electronic voting systems coming to light.

Many counties and states having used this technology are now reconsidering and even jettisoning touchscreen-type machines completely, replacing them with precinct-based optical scan systems to satisfy trust and cost concerns. This is exactly what Democratic Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has done statewide. Maryland's Republican Governor Erlich has stated he has no confidence in touchscreen voting and demands replacement with a VVPB system now. Additionally, he notes operating cost overruns are 78% more than expected..

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Of special significance, our own federal Government Accountability Office issued an alarming report, expressing "significant concerns about the security and reliability of electronic voting system ... Some of these concerns have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in loss and miscount of votes. " The Election Assistance Commissioner (EAC) agreed in the same report that the key security issues identified in certification of electronic machines cannot be addressed immediately yet they have indicated that meeting HAVA deadlines is their immediate priority!

It is inexcusable, unacceptable, and against our American core principles that an arbitrary deadline is placed above the security of our vote. This is a violation of our most precious right in democracy, one that should have elected officials and citizens demanding a halt to this travesty. This is just a sampling of information the Coalition for Voting Integrity has made available to the Bucks County commissioners. We are taking every action, including legal. We ask why our elected officials aren 't doing the same, why they aren 't taking the initiative to vehemently question this unjust situation. Why are they passing the buck, saying that they are only doing what they are told? Why aren 't they standing up for our most important of rights, the bedrock of democracy, the integrity of our voting process? Words won 't suffice, only action and demonstrated commitment to reverse the harm of HAVA and its incorrect interpretation and push for arbitrary deadline. Stop ...then fix the voting system. No law, no government should force us to vote on unsecure, unreliable, unverifiable machines. There is mounting evidence of problems but even the suspicion should have representatives and citizens raising a hue and cry!

In the meantime, there is only one choice for Bucks County: Precinct-based optical scan combined with a ballot-marking device for handicapped access. And yes, Commissioners, it is do-able!

Such a system is less expensive to acquire and operate. And while it is also a computer-based technology having some of the problems outlined, we would at least have true voter-verified paper ballots to back up any data, making recounts and audits possible. The touchscreens, on the other hand, do not permit any kind of transparency in the election process --we 'd be asked to just hit the button and basically trust that it was counting and reporting our votes fully and accurately despite evidence of problems elsewhere!

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Must Bucks County waste millions of dollars to purchase documented, extremely problematic voting systems, only to realize that very shortly they 'd need to be replaced? Can 't we avoid the huge problems experienced by jurisdictions that already went down this road? We ask the commissioners to listen to their constituency: numerous municipalities passed resolutions supporting VVPBs, seven former commissioners of both parties endorsed the same, and thousands of citizens who are learning about the issue are voicing their wishes. We must be able to prove our vote!

Let 's all agree: No Paper >> No Proof >> No Way!!!!!
Let 's ensue fair, provable, trustworthy elections in Bucks County!
Let 's choose Op Scan and verifiability now! The choice is clear!
Let 's also demand Government action to correct the problems combined with an ongoing system of provable and visible checks and balances of our voting system and improved machine certification process!

Mary Ann Gould
Coalition for Voting Integrity
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