December 28, 2006

CASE Ohio Newsletter -- Report on Elections 2006

December 2006

Thank you! CITIZENS ALLIANCE FOR SECURE ELECTIONS would like to thank everyone who worked as election observers, pollworkers, videographers, election protection workers, or otherwise helped monitor the November 7, 2006 election.

The general consensus in the mainstream press is that the election was a success, with only a few "glitches". We believe that the landslide nature of this election minimized some continuing flaws in the system. CASE will continue it’s work to report on election issues and to improve the system. The Adopt a Board of Elections program continues and is in need of volunteer adopters.

> CASE members Phil Fry, Ron Olson, Stuart Wright, and Pete Johnson met with Secretary of State elect Jennifer Brunner, and have been invited to serve on the Voting Rights Institute’s Advisory Council.

> Cuyahoga County Commissioners may want to replace Diebold Electronic Voting Machines

CASE is working with the Greater Cleveland Voter Coaliton, local League of Women Voters, and members of both major parties to help evaluate the effectiveness of Cuyahoga's current system and possible alternatives.


The Road to Reliable Elections NY Times Editorial
18,000 undervotes in Sarasota Fl congressional race; An Electronic Canary by E.J. Dione; Washington Post
When Votes Disappear by Paul Krugman
Black Box Voting on Sarasota undervote
Touch-Screen Votes Flipping in Arkansas Run-off Election
Election Defense Alliance reports 4% exit poll differential
Thank you from Harvey Wasserman; NY Times Letter to Editor
1. The Road to Reliable Elections NY Times Editorial, Dec 11 2006

Two influential federal advisory groups have added their voices to an emerging national consensus that voting machines must produce a voter-verified paper record if they are to be trusted. One of those groups, the one dominated not by scientists but by election officials, was more grudging than it should have been. But their analyses should give further support to members of Congress who plan to push next month for a strong federal law requiring voter-verified paper records.

More than half of the states now have laws requiring electronic voting machines to produce paper records that voters can review to ensure that their votes were correctly recorded. Voters understand that without this paper, there is no way of knowing if the software registered their choices incorrectly, either by accident or by design.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency that promotes good standards in everything from medical devices to smoke detectors, recently concluded that paperless electronic voting is unacceptable. The agency's scientists said that for electronic voting to be trustworthy, it must be "software independent," meaning there has to be a means apart from the machines' own software to prove that the vote tallies are correct.


2. An Electronic Canary By E. J. Dionne Jr. Nov 24, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006;The Sarasota undervote in the congressional race amounted to nearly 15 percent. Kendall Coffey, Jennings's lawyer, has pointed out that in the other four counties in the district, the undervote ranged from 2.2 to 5.3 percent. Put another way, roughly 18,000 of the 21,000 undervotes in the contest came from Sarasota County.

It's hard to believe that Sarasota's voters had a different view of the race than voters everywhere else in the district, considering that the undervote on the county's absentee ballots, cast on paper, was only 2.5 percent. The upshot: Any reasonable statistical analysis suggests that only 3,000 to 5,000 of Sarasota's undervotes were intentional, meaning that 13,000 to 15,000 votes were probably not counted.

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For complete article:


3. When Votes Disappear,

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times, Friday 24 Novmber 2006

You know what really had me terrified on Nov. 7? The all-too-real possibility of a highly suspect result. What would we have done if the Republicans had held on to the House by a narrow margin, but circumstantial evidence strongly suggested that a combination of vote suppression and defective - or rigged - electronic voting machines made the difference?

Fortunately, it wasn't a close election. But the fact that our electoral system worked well enough to register an overwhelming Democratic landslide doesn't mean that things are O.K. There were many problems with voting in this election - and in at least one Congressional race, the evidence strongly suggests that paperless voting machines failed to count thousands of votes, and that the disappearance of these votes delivered the race to the wrong candidate.

Here's the background: Florida's 13th Congressional District is currently represented by Katherine Harris, who as Florida's secretary of state during the 2000 recount famously acted as a partisan Republican rather than a fair referee. This year Ms. Harris didn't run for re-election, making an unsuccessful bid for the Senate instead. But according to the official vote count, the Republicans held on to her seat, with Vern Buchanan, the G.O.P. candidate, narrowly defeating Christine Jennings, the Democrat.

for entire article:

4. Black Box Voting on the SARASOTA undervote problem:

18,000 undervotes. It's one thing to know about these figures, but another to hear the actual missing vote numbers -- the undervotes were like a third candidate in the race. To hear nearly as many under-votes as actual votes for either candidate really drove the point home about how ridiculous it was to claim that so many people chose not to vote in this race, but in all the others. An amazing effect.


5. Touch-Screen Votes Flipping in Arkansas Run-off Election, by Brad Friedman, Brad Blog - November 19, 2006

Mayoral Candidate's Own Votes Repeatedly Flipped in County Clerk's Office — in Front of County Clerk — Told 'Election Must Go On, Go Get Court Order'

This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted with permission of the author.

Heber Springs, Arkansas, mayoral run-off candidate Jackie McPherson began to suspect problems when both his mother-in-law and her mom told him their attempted vote for him flipped over to McPherson's opponent during early voting. He went to the County Clerk's office to test the problem for himself — in front of the County Clerk, who at first told him it was not possible — and then they were both able to watch the vote flip about 20 times in a row.

McPherson says the head of the local Elections Commission then told him "the election would have to go on," and that he "would have to get a court order to review the machines and the problem that obviously exists." Read the Entire Article


6. Landslide Denied!

Election Defense Alliance: Nov. 17, 2006

Major Miscount in 2006 Election: Were 4% of Votes "Misplaced"?

Election Defense Alliance, a national election integrity organization, issued an urgent call today for an investigation into the 2006 election results and a moratorium on deployment of all electronic voting equipment after analysis of national exit polling data indicated a major undercount of Democratic votes and an overcount of Republican votes in congressional races across the country. These findings are an alarming indictment of the American election system in which 80% of voters used electronic voting equipment.

As in 2004, the Exit Poll and the reported election results do not add up. But this time there is an objective yardstick in the methodology that establishes the validity of the Exit Poll and exposes the inaccuracy of the election returns. These findings are detailed in a paper published today on the EDA website.

For entire article:

For review of exit poll data:

7. Harvey Wasserman; (Letter posted by NYTimes, November 14, 2006)

The biggest winners in the election

To the Editor:

The most significant long-term outcome of the nationwide vote last Tuesday may be the coming of age of a grass-roots election-protection movement.

Based on the experiences of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, citizens across the country contributed intense scrutiny of electronic voting machines, voter registration requirements and other essentials of our modern democracy.

By and large, their efforts have been well respected and reported.

There is no way to know exactly how this volunteer police work might have affected the results of Tuesday's election. And it is disturbing to see the use of exit polls severely restricted, as they were in reporting the results.

But it is gratifying to see both Republicans and Democrats refusing to concede close races until the last vote is recounted. And it is reassuring to know that a salutary national debate has begun in earnest about exactly what is needed to guarantee a full and fair electoral process.

In the long run, this could make American democracy itself the election's biggest winner.

Harvey Wasserman

Bexley, Ohio, Nov. 8, 2006

The writer is a co-author of a book about the 2004 election in Ohio.


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Pete Johnson
Phil Fry
Ron Olson
John Burik
Susan Truitt
Stuart Wright