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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bad news for those who worked for paper ballot law in North Carolina

The mad rush to experiment with Instant runoff voting in North Carolina has created some very bad news for the supporters of NC's paper ballot law.

Anything goes in North Carolina, or Welcome back Diebold and gang.

Yesterday the House Election Law Committee passed the bill SB 1263 which extended the IRV pilot program for 3 years. It goes to the House Judiciary I committee next Tuesday. See for details. The experiments would even be allowed in November, where IRV voting could appear on a ballot that also has regular voting on, which will confuse voters. This is what happened in Scotland when they switched to STV, a form of ranking ballots similar to IRV. Scotland combined IRV voting with regular voting in 2007 and spoiled 100,000 votes.

If there is no intervention, then we can only sit back and watch North Carolina election law be weakened little by little.

Why would an extended IRV Pilot hurt verified voting, or hurt our Public Confidence in Elections Law?

Because lawmakers feel that we have to make it easy for cities/counties to experiment with an "automated" IRV, and that means:

Not requiring same standards for IRV ballots that are required for regular ballots, like having all ballots counted where cast (if cast at the polls, counted at the polls). This means a lack of equal protection for the different votes.

Less accountability and protection for IRV ballots. No software available to report IRV results on election night, but as far as our BoE is concerned, these 2nd and 3rd choices votes don't exist unless there is a runoff, so don't need to be accounted for or protected in the same manner as regular ballots. In other words, less protection for those 2nd and 3rd choices.

Current audit law will not be sufficient for IRV ballots - with IRV ballots - each round must be 100% correct in order for the next round to be correct. That means virtually a complete recount of each of 1st and 2nd rounds.

"Paper Trail" on DRE/touchscreens becomes irrelevent, it is so difficult to audit or recount for an IRV ballot, especially the early voted ballot - that using the paper for any purpose becomes so prohibitive and nearly undoable that it will be phased out. This incentivizes the spread of touchscreens just when we were making them obsolete.

Allowing uncertified software - why is this bad? if we allow uncertified software then we lose important quality control and fraud controls:

We can't legally bind the vendor from installing uncertified software if we break our own law. If a vendor wants to install "special" software just before an election, and pretend it is just doing maintenance then how can we stop them?

We void the vendor's requirement to post bond if we are breaking our own law. The bond is to protect us if something the vendor does causes an election meltdown as happened in Carteret County in 2004. Since we would voluntarily be doing things that we argued could cause risk to our votes, then we could no longer blame the vendor for computer malfunctions or fraud. We know that iVotronics are vulnerable to viruses.

If we break our own law, then we can no longer charge the vendor with criminal and civil penalties if they break it. If we break our own law, then my lawsuits against Diebold were for nothing - anything goes in North Carolina, so welcome back Diebold.

We made it illegal to use or install uncertified software, and created civil and criminal penalties against doing so because the software affects how votes are counted or not counted. Diebold was caught installing uncertified software on California machines and later it was found that they never applied for federal certification for that software. It has been noted that Diebold installed uncertified software in Georgia prior to the 2002 election (Rob Georgia Files/Mac Clelland lost). ES&S was caught installing uncertified software and lying about it in Indiana in 2004.

December 2003 California. Secretary of State discovers that Diebold installed uncertified software throughoutCalifornia before the recall election, without informing county officials."An audit of Diebold Election Systems voting machines in California has revealed that the company installed uncertified software in all 17 counties that use its electronic voting equipment. ... Diebold admitted wrongdoing Tuesday at a meeting of the state's Voting Systems Panel."12December 2003 Bev Harris found that Diebold software had been written by a convicted felon who had embezzled from his employer using computers. 12 E-Voting

Undermined by Sloppiness. Wired News. December 17. 2003. By Kim Zetter,2645,61637,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2 13 Con

Job at Diebold Subsidiary. Wired News. December 17, 2003. by AP.,2645,61640,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3

March 2004 Indiana – four counties. It was discovered that ES&S had installed an uncertified version of firmware in the iVotronics in four counties. When confronted, representatives agreed to reinstall the certified version. Then it was determined that the certified version doesn't tabulate the votes correctly, so the county allowed the use of the uncertified version but required ES&S to put up a $10Million bond to insure against problems and lawsuits. Excerpts from a WISH TV story:

Election Commission Bails Out Voting Machine Maker In Time for May Primary. March 11, 2004; You only need to see Voters Unite's database of election problems to see the problems with voting machine software.