Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Please give to CVF and help us make elections better!

At this time of holiday giving, please consider supporting the California Voter Foundation! Your tax-deductible contribution will help us work to improve the voting process in California and beyond. Please see our year-end appeal for more details about what we accomplished in 2012 and the year that lies ahead, and make a donation by check or online (you can use PayPal to make an online credit card donation even if you do not have an account. I hope we can count on your support!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Election verification letter to President Obama

On November 20, the California Voter Foundation sent a letter to President Barack Obama on behalf of 29 signatories, in response to his Election Night comment that we need to fix our voting process, which resulted in long lines at polling places for many voters around the country.

Our letter was featured this week in an Electionline story, including comments from several signatories. A second letter was also sent this week by even more election technology experts. Doug Chapin's blog post today provides a good summary and concludes that:
"The two letters in combination suggest the following agenda for election policymakers:
  1. an emphasis on verifiable voting systems, namely paper-based optical scan ballots;
  2. a focus on auditability of voting systems; and
  3. a deep-seated opposition to Internet voting.
"I'd expect these talking points to feature prominently in the upcoming reform debate. It will be interesting to see if this community is as successful in affecting policy as it was during the voting technology debates of 2004-2006. If so, you can expect the end result of the process to strongly resemble the content of these two letters."
A few excerpts from the Electionline story are also below:


On Election Day, at one precinct in Washington, D.C. the line to check-in snaked around the block in the early morning chill. Once voters made it inside to the check-in table, poll workers struggled through the paper poll books to find names. 

After voters checked in, those wishing to use the one DRE machine queued up in another line that circled around itself while those wishing to cast paper ballots were only held up when the poll worker overseeing the optical scan machine was called away to help a voter using the DRE.

The average wait time for those trying to cast a ballot before lunchtime was about two hours. 

Following the election, on behalf of 29 experts in the field of technology and voting, the California Voter Foundation sent President Barack Obama a letter asking him to follow up on his promise to “do something about that” and to pay special attention to the technology aspects of elections.

“I hope our letter is read by the president and helps him develop a thoughtful and well-informed position about election reform,” Alexander said. “I hope it motivates him to invest his resources and attention into this issue area, which is so neglected and underfunded at all levels of government.”

Alexander hopes the president appoints a panel to explore the problems witnessed on Election Day and then recommend changes that would minimize the problems in the future.

One major issue is the role DRE’s played in slowing up the process. David Dill, professor of computer Science at Stanford and also on the board of Verified Voting said DRE’s lead to a host of problems on Election Day. He noted that DRE’s are harder to set up, thus making elections start late; they malfunction; and they are expensive and therefore there are never usually enough to accommodate voters.

“Optical scan ballots, scanned either in the precincts or centrally, are the most widely used voting systems in the U.S,” Dill said. “We should replace DREs with optical scan systems and it will reduce lines.”