2005: VotePA Begins Our Fight For Verifiable Elections...
PROTECT OUR VOTE IN PENNSYLVANIA!
WE HAD MANY PROBLEMS IN THE ELECTION OF 2004
At the February 26, 2005 Allegheny County Democratic Endorsement vote, which was done on Direct Recording Electronic machines, Pennsylvania Voting Rights activists distributed information about electronic voting machines and the need for Voter-Verified Paper Ballots on them.
March 9, 2005
Several voting rights activists and other concerned voters attended the Voting Systems Information Forum at the Radisson Lackawanna Station, 700 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton.
Throughout the day, vendors demonstrated the specifics of their voting technology
10:30 a.m. Advanced Voting Solutions, 11:30 a.m. Unilect, 12:30 p.m. Danaher, 1:30 p.m. Peaklogic, 2:30 p.m. Sequoia, 3:30 p.m. Hart InterCivic, 4:30 p.m. Unisys/ AccPoll, 5:30 p.m. Election Systems & Software (E S & S), 6:30 p.m. Diebold Election Systems.
At least six people spoke in favor of Voter-Verified Paper Ballots: Stephanie Frank Singer (PhD in mathematics from NYU and graduate work in Computer Science at Stanford; resident of Phildelphia area), Richard King (PhD, resident of Pittsburgh), Eron Lloyd (resident of Berks County; spoke on Open Voting Consortium), Sandra Christianson (Vice-Chair of Issues for Common Cause of PA), Rick Knighton (computer professional from the Harrisburg PA area), and Marybeth Kuznik (pollworker from Westmoreland County, and www.votePA.us organizer.)
The Mercer County Citizens for Better Government also submitted written comment.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Voting-rights advocates questioned Allegheny County officials about problems that arose in the November elections, which have not yet been fixed. County Council members voted to form a committee with the goal of ensuring a smooth primary May 17.
These groups are also calling upon State and County Governmental entities to act on reforms to safeguard and advance our Pennsylvania election system.
April 7 -- PA Secretary of the Commonwealth Decertifies UniLect Patriot Voting System in Pennsylvania System Used in Beaver, Greene and Mercer Counties
HARRISBURG, Pa., April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- In a report issued today, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortes announced the decertification of the UniLect Patriot Direct Recording Electronic Voting System that only serves Beaver, Greene and Mercer counties.
By Marybeth Kuznik
It was three or four AM, sometime in the Fall of 2004. I was worried about the upcoming elections and couldn't sleep, as if somehow I knew what fate had in store for our nation only a few days later. A pollworker for fifteen years, I realized this could very well be the last General Election ever held on our venerable lever machines. Would this be my last election as a pollworker as well? I knew there was an ugly-looking "sample" electronic thing already sitting in our Election Bureau office at the County Courthouse, and I knew that I had already thought about resigning from my position if and when the county chose one of those paperless, unverifiable systems for future elections. "Why bother," I thought to myself, "in fact why bother to even vote anymore if elections are just going to be stolen from here on out?"
So there I was in the middle of the night, stumbling around the Internet looking for voting machine information, when I clicked into the online movie 'Votergate'.
A few minutes into the movie, a fellow named Andy Stephenson came onscreen to tell the story of how he had contacted the President of the Diebold corporation and was ominously told to back off or he was going to 'get a visit.'
"Who from Bob," said Andy Stephenson, "the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus? I'm from Texas, I'm not afraid of you!"
It was right then and there, when I heard those 'fightin' words from that brave man, I realized that we actually still have a real chance to win back our Democracy.
Only days later, the Election of 2004 went into the books as one of the most questionable and contentious in our history. In the weeks that followed, I jumped into the fray and helped with the Green Party Recount of Ohio as a Regional Coordinator, where I learned even more about how fragile and flawed our electoral process is right now. I met many great, dedicated activists and workers, and among these I began exchanging e-mails and phone messages with Andy Stephenson. [MORE]Marybeth Kuznik & her friend Andy Stephenson
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Meeting of the Pennsylvania Election Reform Task Force.
North Office Building, Hearing Room #1, Ground Floor; Commonwealth Avenue, Harrisburg, PA
The Governor's Election Reform Task Force voted to TABLE two proposals: 1) Voter-Verified Paper Ballots (paper becomes the ballot of record) and 2) Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail where the paper is verified by the voter but the machine record takes precedence. The motion to table included a recommendation that the Pennsylvania Legislature hold full hearing on these matters before passing any legislation.
Due to diligent efforts by Pennsylvania activists from several organizations, the Task Force was made to realize that this is an important issue with huge implications for security of the vote, voter confidence, and voter participation. However, after much testimony and many support documents submitted to them, sadly many Task Force members were still unsure of the full need for VVPB and why the paper MUST take precedence over the machine.
We have a LOT of educating and legislative work to do, folks. We will have to put up the fight of a lifetime to get a VVPB bill to and through the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Other Electoral Reforms proposed at this meeting included increased ballot access for "minor" political parties; voting reforms such as Instant Runoff Voting, Choice Voting, and Proportional Representation; and abolishment of the Electoral College through a Constitutional Convention called by the states.
Members of numerous citizen groups and at least 4 political parties participated.
ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!
People needed at hearing on Friday April 22 -- PENNSYLVANIA TO RECONSIDER THE DECERTIFIED UNILECT PATRIOT MACHINE!
They're baaaacckk.... (maybe)... The PA Department of State is holding a hearing to reconsider the UniLect Patriot Voting Machine at 11 AM on Friday, April 22 in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building in the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg. PLEASE COME TO THE HEARING, AND OBSERVE THE PROCEEDINGS AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN AND PENNSYLVANIA VOTER. (Wear something orange if you can.) Your attendance will show the State of Pennsylvania that we CARE about who counts our precious votes, and HOW!
The UniLect system may have lost as many as 10,000 votes in Mercer, Beaver, and Greene counties. Its results show an undervote of 2-3 times the historical average for those areas.
Here's the history: http://www.votersunite.org/info/penn-unilect.asp
|We are working on getting a paper copy of the votersunite.org document "Mythbreakers" to EVERY County Election Director in Pennsylvania... please e-mail us if you can help!||Join Velvet Revolution's Divestiture for Democracy Campaign... Tell the nine major manufacturers of voting machines that we want VOTER-VERIFIED PAPER BALLOTS!|
April 22, 2005 -- The PA Department of State held a hearing to reconsider the UniLect Patriot Voting Machine.The UniLect system may have lost as many as 10,000 votes in Mercer, Beaver, and Greene counties. Its results show an undervote of 2-3 times the historical average for those areas. Apparently the new hearing didn't go too well for UniLect.
PENNSYLVANIA DECERTIFIES UNILECT DRE VOTING MACHINES FOR THE SECOND TIME!
April 30, 2005 -- Citizens in Mercer, Beaver, and Greene counties learned yesterday afternoon the Pennsylvania Department of State has decided to DE-certify the UniLect Patriot DRE voting machines for the second time. This decertification is in response to the April 22 re-examination of the UniLect machines, which many of our concerned citizens attended.
To quote from Kathy McPherson of the Mercer County Citizens for Better Government, "This will immediately effect Mercer, Beaver and Greene counties who were using the UniLect Patriot paperless DRE system but will also prevent further sales of this system in our state at this time. This is a major victory for our 3 counties' voters and will also protect other counties from the purchase of this poor voting system. We are now awaiting the official report from Secretary of the Commonwealth Cortes and independent evaluator, Dr. Michael Shamos."
Congratulations to the tireless workers from Beaver and Mercer Counties who have struggled for so long to help protect their fellow Pennsylvanians' vote: Sheila Green and her American Voter group in Beaver; and Kathy and Mark McPherson and the Mercer County Citizens for Better Government! Keep up the great work!
KATHY DOPP OF US COUNT VOTES IN WESTERN PA JUNE 6-7
June 6-7, 2005 -- Kathy Dopp, the Founder and President of US Count Votes, an organization formed to investigate the accuracy of our elections spoke this week in the Shadyside area of Pittsburgh and in Penn Township, Westmoreland County. Voters from at least four political parties attended the two sessions, including several committee chairs and elected officials.
Kathy Dopp is an independent mathematician who has done ground-breaking work on the 2004 election "discrepancies" and the problems and irregularities associated with electronic voting machines. Her team discovered alarming abnormalities and statistical impossibilities in the election results. Working with a team of respected mathematicians and statisticians she published several papers, including an Analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Poll Discrepancies.
She also founded the National Election Data Archive Project, which is a volunteer scientific research project to create and analyze - for the first time ever - a database containing precinct-level election results for the entire United States.
In addition to speaking about her group's work in analyzing the 2004 Election, Kathy Dopp's message was on how citizens and communities can work toward getting auditable, open elections in the future. Ms. Dopp noted that if Pennsylvania were to begin posting and providing its Election Data from every county, broken down by vote type and precinct, it would lead the nation in helping to analyze elections to make sure that the will of the people is being correctly represented when elected candidates are sworn into office. She also pointed out that Pennsylvania counties will soon be purchasing new voting equipment with money furnished by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and it is important that each voting machine produce a voter-verified paper ballot that can be counted, recounted, and audited by our regular election officials, without the aid of paid "geek" computer technicians. Voters were urged to contact their county election board and request that only machines be purchased which produce a voter-verified paper ballot that can be hand counted. [MORE]
June 27th, 2005: VOTING INTEGRITY FORUM at BUCKS COUNTY COURTHOUSE, in Doylestown
ORGANIZED BY MARY ANN GOULD and the BSPEAKERS:
DR. REBECCA MERCURI Forensic computer scientist, and president/CTO of
Notable Software, Inc. Globally recognized as one of the leading experts on electronic voting. http://www.notablesoftware.com Keynote Speaker
BETH FEEHAN Voter Activist, presently working with election reform issues in NJ law firm
TERESA HOMMEL Voting Process Consultant.
MARYBETH KUZNIK Extensive experience with lever voting machines. http://votepa.us
MICHELLE MULDER administrative aide to Congressman Rush Holt and liaison for his voting bill presently in Congress.
Over 150 people including Bucks County Commissioners in attendance!
This was the beginning of the Bucks County Coalition for Voting Integrity.
Andy Stephenson passed away on July 7, 2005. He was surrounded by the love of his family members who were with him, and by the love of thousands of us who were with him in spirit and will never forget the work he started.
We love you Andy, and we will carry on your fight to preserve our Democracy.
VOTER-VERIFIED PAPER BALLOTS. Never Give Up. Andy has passed the torch to US.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae (1872-1918)
In-District Lobby Days to Save our Elections
August 15-16, 2005 -- As Tip O'Neill famously said, "All politics is local." On August 15 and 16, Pennsylvania voters brought the campaign to pass a federal law mandating a voter-verified paper audit trail to their local District Congressional Offices and urged representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act.
The HR 550 Bill, which has bi-partisan support, would require all voting machines to produce an actual paper record that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes and that election officials can use to verify votes in audits and recounts. This essential safeguard protects the vote in the event of a computer malfunction, hacking, or other irregularity.
In-District Lobby Days was put together by a coalition which included Common Cause, Electronic Frontier Foundation, VerifiedVoting.org, VotersUnite, VoteTrustUSA, and Working Assets. State coordinators for In-District Lobby Days were Marybeth Kuznik and Kathy McPherson of VotePA, a statewide alliance of groups and individuals working for Election Reform and Voting Rights in Pennsylvania. For more information about VotePA's activities, visit our website at http://www.votepa.us .
Thank you to all the citizens and Congressional staff people who participated. We urge the Congressmen and Congresswomen whose offices were visited to add their support to this multi-partisan effort to verify and protect our vote! [MORE, with pictures]
VotePA founder Marybeth Kuznik as Susan B. Anthony pictured with (L) Kip Humphrey of 51 Capital March and (R) Bernie Ellis of Gathering to Save our Democracy (TN) in Portland OR, at the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition's Summit To Save Our Elections. Marybeth delivered excepts from Miss Anthony's 1873 speech entitled "Is It A Crime To Vote?" as part of the Saturday evening Democracy Revival organized by election attorney Paul Lehto of Washington state. Marybeth (as herself) also presented two workshops at the conference on becoming a Pollworker.
Joe Conti Introduces Senate Companion to HB 2000
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA
S. 977 is an Exact Clone of Rep. Frankel's VVPB/Audit Bill
November 02, 2005 -- Pennsylvania Senator Joseph Conti (R-10th) yesterday introduced S. 977, a bill calling for a voter verified paper record of every vote and a mandatory random handcount of 5% of those paper records in each county in the state.companion bill to HB 2000 yesterday. The bill is a verbatim clone of a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House in late September by Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny)
The verification language of the bills, which has over 50 co-sponsors in the House, is drawn from Rush Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (HR 550) which was introduced in the US House earlier this year. It has the support of state and local election integrity organizations and VoteTrustUSA joins with other national organizations like Verified Voting and Common Cause in supporting this legislation. [MORE]
|Pennsylvania: VotePA and VTUSA Launch Email Action in Support of PA HB 2000 and S 977|
|By VotePA and VoteTrustUSA|
|November 02, 2005|
PA Danaher Re-Exam: Blame the Pollworkers!
By Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA
November 2, 2005 -- Eclipsed by late-night theatrics in the Pennsylvania Assembly over a controversial pay raise legislators voted themselves last summer, the citizen-petition re-examination of the Danaher 1242 voting system received little attention in the Pennsylvania press.
The 1242 Machines, first certified for use in Pennsylvania in 1984, failed to count votes in a number of precincts precincts during the May 17 Primary Election in Berks County. A re-examination of the Danaher system was called for by the petition of Berks County voters and filed by Sheila Green of Beaver County.
During the re-examination, held in Harrisburg on November 2, Danaher Vice President Matthew Lilly blamed Berks County pollworkers for causing the problem. He said that the pollworkers did not follow training and pushed a red button more than one time to start the machine when the polls opened. [MORE]
Activists work with Allegheny County on Voting Machine Evaluation Process
By Pat Clark, The Center for Civic Participation and Everybody VOTE
November 28, 2005
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates that counties choose electronic voting machines by January 1, 2006, and that the voting technology be accessible to individuals with disabilities in a way that provides the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, as for other voters. This is an important selection process that has to occur within an extremely short timeframe. The result of the decisions around these machines will affect voting for decades to come.
Allegheny County had originally intended to present its final decision without public input but was induced by local community activists, particularly those representing the disability community, to allow those with disabilities, as well as the general public, to inspect and test machines prior to the County's decision.
So, on Thursday, November 17, 2005, in response to HAVA, Allegheny County hosted three sessions to test new voting machines. The HAVA committee members attended a private session (8:30-10:30 am); the ADA and community activists attended a 10:30am-12:30pm session; and the general public attended the 1:00 - 9:00 pm session. We were committed to ensuring that valid, reliable, consistent data was collected at these sessions so that the County factored public input into its decisions. [MORE]
PA DEPARTMENT OF STATE "EXTENDS" HAVA DEADLINE (sort of)
December 7 -- Counties may be able to obtain more time to make their selection of voting systems under a memorandum issued this week by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Basically, this new decision means that in order to comply with the Help America Vote Act a county must do one of two things (our wording, not the official ruling):
1) Buy a machine now that is both federally and state certified now (such as AccuPoll, which was first to be certified in PA and which got its certification in order and done in a very timely manner.) Start getting the staff trained, and the pollworkers trained, and be ready to have everything in place by May Primary.
2) The County Commissioners write a resolution by the end of this year, legally obligating (encumbering) all monies they receive from HAVA . The resolution should detail how the HAVA monies will be distributed - administration, voter education and all other requirements of HAVA, including how much of the monies will be committed to the purchase of a voting system - they are NOT obligated to state a specific voting system in this resolution, simply lay out their clear plan of how the HAVA monies will be dispersed/spent. And then - even though they will be choosing their system a month or two (or more) LATER - they will still have to have all the staff and pollworkers trained on the system they finally choose and have everything in place by May Primary.
There is a "Sample Resolution" on the Department of State website which is based on a resolution made by Lackawanna County. It is our understanding that this sample is suggested as a possible template, but is not required.
Our concern is that if the purchase is delayed but the May Primary deadline to have the new machines in order and operating remains firm, there will be lot of rush training, overtime and rush expenses, and maybe even quickie and inadequate training. Poorly and hastily trained officials and pollworkers make mistakes, cost more in the long run, and votes don't get counted correctly!
Would it actually be BETTER at this point to choose a machine that is already certified now, and move forward to start getting the new machines in place and start the training, rather than delay and take a chance? Stay tuned, folks!
|Pennsylvania's Second Largest City and County Support Voter Verified Paper Records, HB 2000/SB 977|
|By Marybeth Kuznik, VotePA|
December 12, 2005
Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County joined the City of Pittsburgh this week in support of voter verified paper records on voting machines with routine random manual audits of all elections, and of the bills pending in the state legislature to require them.
PUBLIC HEARING ON SB 977 for Voter Verified Paper Records and Audits SOON!
December 13, 2005 -- At the Pennsylvania State Government Committee meeting today Senator Joseph Conti withdrew his motion to bring SB 977 to an immediate committee vote. He is calling public hearings on the issue to be held as soon as possible.
PRESS RELEASE HERE
Meanwhile, HB 1318 Moves through the Senate and Back to House
The restrictive HB 1318, which would require VoterID and make it harder for some Pennsylvanians to vote, was passed by the PA Senate and has been returned to the House. As of December 20 it was recommitted to the House Rules Committee where it will likely remain until after the New Year starts.
ALLEGHENY COUNTY COUNCILMAN: "PAPER VERIFICATION OR HELL TO PAY"
December 21 -- In reponse to questions yesterday about rumors that Allegheny County might go with a paperless voting system despite its recent Motion in support of VVPR and HB 2000 / SB 977, Councilman William Russell Robinson responded, "DONE. COUNCIL IS ON RECORD. PAPER VERIFICATION. NO DEBATE. AS BUDGET CHAIR YOU HAVE MY WORD. NO PAPER NO PAYMENT." And to another activist Councilman Robinson responded, "WHETHER BY RESOLUTION OR MOTION THIS COUNCIL IS ON RECORD. PAPER VERIFICATION IS A MUST. NO DEBATE. OUR MEMBERS ON THE ELECTION BOARD HAVE OUR MARCHING ORDERS. PAPER VERIFICATION OR HELL TO PAY."
We salute you Councilman Robinson, and call on Allegheny County to purchase a voting system that produces a high quality, easily readable and recountable Voter Verified Paper Record!
PENNSYLVANIA GETS A BIG LUMP OF COAL FROM HARRISBURG FOR CHRISTMAS
December 26, 2005 -- Immediately before closing up shop for the long weekend last Friday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Department of State uploaded a holiday present to its HAVA website that left election integrity activists and many voters in the state thinking they had just been whacked in the head with a lump of coal.
The lovely little Christmas package actually put quite a few lumps in Keystone State stockings -- including the announcement of yet another examination go-round with Jack Gerbel and his UniLect Patriot DRE. Pennsylvania state certification documents were also uploaded for ES & S and Diebold paperless touchscreen DREs.
The UniLect Patriot was listed as scheduled on January 4 for its fourth re-examination in less than a year by the Pennsylvania Department of State. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law allows what appears to be unlimited attempts by a decertified or denied vendor to demand re-examinations at what is at least partial taxpayer expense.
Also listed for January examinations are products by Sequoia, including the "Edge 2, Update", the "Advantage Full face", and the "Insight Optical Scan". The Sequoia Advantage is already in use in several Pennsylvania counties and no word has been received by citizens there as to how or when their current Advantage systems can be made HAVA-compliant.
In the way of new certifications, the Friday Department of State upload announced several... [MORE]
VOTERS ANNOUNCE 10-COUNTY CITIZENS' COALITION FOR A VERIFIED PAPER BALLOT
December 29, 2005 -- In response to the reported "10-County Coalition" allegedly formed by our elected and appointed county officials to negotiate with voting system vendors and other parties to purchase electronic voting machines with money available under the Help America Vote Act, citizens of Westmoreland, Allegheny, Butler, Washington, Beaver, Mercer, and other Western Pennsylvania counties held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the formation of 10-County Citizens' Coalition For Voter Verified Paper Ballots. [MORE]
RELEASE ANNOUNCING PRESS CONFERENCE
December 28, 2005 -- Citizens of Westmoreland, Allegheny, Butler, Washington, Beaver, Mercer, and other Western Pennsylvania counties will announce the formation of 10-County Citizens' Coalition For Voter Verified Paper Ballots at a press conference tomorrow, December 29, 2005 in the Westmoreland County Courthouse Square. The event is open to the public and will begin immediately after the Westmoreland County Commissioners meeting.
The press conference and formation of the group is in response to a reported "10-County Coalition" of Western Pennsylvania election directors and county officials formed to purchase electronic voting machines with money available under the Help America Vote Act. The citizens' group wants to be sure that the money is spent wisely, and that any voting system chosen in any county has the ability to produce a high-quality, human readable and recountable voter verified paper record or ballot. [MORE]