UPDATE: Iowa Senate Failing to Safeguard the 2010 Vote

(If your state senator is one of the 15 members of the Iowa Senate State Government Committee, please call him or her in addition to sending an e-mail. The Iowa Senate switchboard number is (515) 281-3371. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

UPDATE:  Iowans for Voting Integrity members were informed yesterday that a leading Senator views this bill as a “solution in search of a problem” and that a provision for post-election audits is not likely to move this year. See IVI's press release addressing various objections to the bill, and take action below!

 Iowans, and especially Polk County folks, please take some time out of your busy day to protect the 2010 elections.

Second funnel is fast approaching at the Statehouse, and your help is needed to pass House File 682, an important bill that would provide checks and balances on the vote count in general elections.

Iowa got rid of unverifiable touch screen voting machines in 2008, but we Hawkeyes lag behind half the states and the District of Columbia in a crucial area of election protection: post-election audits.

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Action Alert: Urge Senators to Pass Verified Voting in 2009

(We have a lot of close elections in Iowa and need confidence that our machines are counting votes accurately. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

 

Your help is needed to keep Iowa moving toward verified voting. House File 682, the work of a task force of citizens, election officials, and lawmakers, would require Iowa to conduct hand-counted audits of election results. HF 682 passed the House unanimously on Monday evening, but the Senate is not moving the bill forward.

Audits are done by comparing a hand-tally of paper ballots to the machine tally, in a number of precincts selected at random. If the results don't match, further checking can be done. Unlike recounts, audits happen every time as a check and balance on the system — not just when a particular contest is at stake. It's not difficult to do; in November 2008, audits were done in 22 states and the District of Columbia. And for good reason: computer scientists who know our voting systems, including Iowa's Douglas Jones, view audits as no less important than voter-verified paper ballots. 

You can use Verified Voting's Action Center and send a message:

 http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/199/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=26937

Thanks for your help!

Sean Flaherty

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More evidence that we need verified voting

Thanks to the Iowa Voters blog, I learned about a transparency project in a California county that uncovered errors made by machines counting paper ballots in the recent election. Click here for more detail on the program and the errors it revealed.

This story provides further evidence that we need verified voting across the country. Mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records would allay fears about malfunctions or tampering with optical scanners.

It’s great that Iowa eliminated touchscreen voting machines last year, but we also need to make sure machines are counting paper ballots accurately. I hope Secretary of State Mike Mauro will work toward this goal.

I recommend that you check out the Verified Voting site to learn more about this issue. Also, it’s not too late to urge Barack Obama to support verified voting at the federal level.

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Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

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Tell President-Elect Obama to Support Verified Voting

(Verified voting has been on my mind lately, so thanks to Sean for posting this diary.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

We have an opportunity to make sure that President-elect Obama hears from citizens about the importance of verified voting. The Presidential transition team has set up a system called “Open for Questions” on change.gov Citizens submit questions of their own, and vote on other questions. The transition team will gather the responses and post answers in the New Year.

You can help by recommending this question for consideration:

“President-elect Obama has cosponsored two bills* that would eliminate unverifiable voting in federal elections. Will he ask the 111th Congress to pass a law requiring paper ballots and random hand audits of computer vote tallies?”

You can recommend as many questions as you like, so you will not lose other opportunities to share your ideas by doing this.

Tips for recommending a question on the flip.

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Thank heaven for paper ballots

The recount to determine the winner of Minnesota’s Senate race has been going on for six weeks, with a court challenge likely if Al Franken, who leads narrowly, is declared the winner. (WineRev’s diaries tell you everything you need to know about what’s going on in that race.)

Imagine how much more contentious this process would be if Minnesota did not use paper ballots in every county. Less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the vote separates Franken from Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. If touchscreen voting machines had been involved in any way, large numbers of people would surely believe the election had been rigged in favor of whoever came out ahead.

Mark Halvorson of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota published this piece on what has worked well during the Minnesota recount, and how the system could still be improved.

Iowa had more state legislative races decided by less than 1 percent of the vote this year than in any other election I can remember. Fortunately, the state legislature heeded Secretary of State Mike Mauro’s call to require optical scanner machines with paper ballots in every county, and Governor Chet Culver signed that bill into law this spring. Otherwise the legitimacy of these extremely close races could have been questioned.

If you run into Mauro, thank him for his efforts to improve Iowa’s voting system, and encourage him to ask the legislature to take the next step toward “verified voting” (mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records). That would allay fears about malfunctions or tampering with the optical scanners as they count the votes.

As this map at VerifiedVoting.org shows, Minnesota is one of 18 states that has mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records. Iowa is one of 13 states that require paper ballots, but without mandatory audits to make sure the scanners are producing accurate counts.

Keep your eye on the Iowa Voters blog for updates on election integrity news and activism in Iowa.

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