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Voting Integrity Forum, June 2005

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Voting Forum October 2005
Voting Integrity Forum, June 2005
 
June 27, 2005, Bucks County Courthouse

In light of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the resulting necessity for Bucks County officials to make a decision about the voting machines our citizens will use for the 2006 elections, the Coalition for Voting Integrity launched its first public education program with the June 27 Courthouse forum featuring a panel of experts on voting technology, moderated by the Bucks County League of Women Voters.

 

The keynote speaker was Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, globally recognized as a leading authority on computer security and electronic vote tabulation and a member of the committee that advises the government on standards for electronic voting machines. She is president/CTO of Notable Software, Inc., www.notablesoftware.com.

 

The other speakers included:

Teresa Hommel, corporate trainer in computer technology and election integrity activist; www.wheresthepaper.org

Marybeth Kuznik, PA election reform organizer; www.votePA.us

Beth Feehan, voting activist, presently working with election reform issues in NJ law firm

Michelle Mulder, administrative aide to Congressman Rush Holt (NJ) and liaison for his voting bill presently in Congress, H.R. 550

Sheila Green provided information on the decertification of electronic voting machines in Beaver County, PA.

 

Summary of the consensus of the panel:

1. The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) does not require our lever machines to be replaced as long as there is a process in place to accommodate the disabled.

2. Regarding the concern about lack of replacement parts for the lever machines that have served us for fifty years, there is at least one factory that does still make replacement parts for these lever machines.

3. Because the vendors of electronic voting machines will not reveal the proprietary code in their machines, there is no way, even with a voter-verified paper trail, to verify the accuracy of the vote tallies.

4. Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick has recognized the inherent flaw in electronic voting machines with proprietary code in his support for H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005, with its "prohibition of use of undisclosed software in voting systems."

5. Beyond verifiability, there are reasons of cost and useful life expectancy to avoid electronic voting machines, which are much more expensive than optical scanners and require climate-controlled storage for their relatively short lives. One speaker estimated the working life of an electronic voting machine as only five years.

6. If our lever machines must be replaced, it was the consensus of the experts on the panel that electronic voting machines should be avoided in favor of paper ballots read by optical scanners such as are used to grade standardized tests, supplemented with a system like Automark Ballot-markers, which together can accommodate all the needs of the handicapped.

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