Friday, September 9, 2005

County Clerks' letter explains their opposition to public verification of election results

The state election clerks' association (the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials) recently sent a letter to the Governor urging him to veto SB 370/Bowen, which would mandate the use of the voter verified paper audit trail to publicly audit computerized election results. In their letter of opposition, the clerks state that they do not believe "a separate, independent verification of DRE accuracy is necessary....". Their letter goes on to suggest that we should instead find "new methods of validating the accuracy of the equipment used to cast or tabulate votes."

The clerks assert in their letter that the voter verified paper trail is a "form of verification that is useful only when the voter is present" and then go on to say that "Using the AVVPAT to perform a 1% manual tally or full recount is neither practical nor accurarate.....Printing the internal audit trail for these purposes does nothing to verify the accuracy of the electronically captured vote, because the possibility exists that the internal audit trail and AVVPAT could be programmed to print different results."

So, to sum up: The clerks have now stated on the record that they do not believe independent verification of DRE accuracy is necessary, but that they now do believe voting equipment could be hacked or could malfunction. Their reasoning is inconsistent and more than a little frightening. Their opposition to public verification on computerized election results is appalling. The clerks also oppose SB 370 because of various administrative concerns, all of which are surmountable. In short, the clerks' letter is all about explaining how using the voter verified paper trails to perform the one percent manual count would make their jobs difficult. What the clerks' association fails to realize is that elections are not conducted for the convenience of election officials; they are conducted for the purpose of transferring power between the people and the government. To suggest that electronic voting equipment is a reliable tool to use for elections, admit that this very same equipment is subject to fraud or error and then insist that public verification of results produced by such equipment is not necessary demonstrates a failure on the part of the clerks' association to comprehend the true nature and purpose of the electoral process.

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