# Verified Voting

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:


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.

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.

Adopt Mike Mauro's plan for paper ballots

Secretary of State Mike Mauro wants every precinct in Iowa to have an optical scanner that reads paper ballots. Legislators should listen to him, even though the plan would cost $9.7 million, according to the Des Moines Register.

A new state law says there has to be a paper trail, leading some to call for retrofitting touchscreen machines with windows that would let voters view a “receipt” to confirm their votes. This “verified paper audit trail” would cost about $2 million to put in place, but I’m with Representative Pam Jochum of Dubuque, who says it would be a “total waste of money” to retrofit touchscreen voting machines.


Mauro pointed out Wednesday that any such system could be obsolete in two years because of pending federal legislation that could change requirements for voting machines.

Iowa needs to find a way to fund Mauro’s proposal, so that we have secure voting procedures and paper ballots that can be recounted if necessary.

Although no voting system is perfect, the recent recount in New Hampshire showed lower error rates in precincts using optical scanners than in precincts that counted ballots by hand on election night.

Touchscreen voting is a disaster in the making, not only because of the potential for tampering but also because it leaves nothing to be recounted in case of a disputed election.

By the way, I had previously reported that New Hampshire would recount all the ballots from the recent primary, but in fact Dennis Kucinich only put in $27,000, enough to recount about 40 percent of the ballots. The recount has now ended, having revealed no significant changes in vote totals for the candidates. Click the link for more details.

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Action Alert: Protect the South Carolina Primary

Iowans have to step up to protect the South Carolina primary. Most do not know it, but the primary will be conducted on a statewide touch screen system without a paper trail. And not just any touch screen: South Carolina uses an extremely insecure system that Ohio’s Secretary of State recommended scrapping just last week, and which Colorado’s Secretary of State decertified on Monday. Iowans should educate the Presidential candidates, and call on them to act.

It’s worse than I anticipated.” Those are the words of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner used to describe the security of voting systems in her state, following a top-to-bottom review by a corporate-academic team. Brunner has recommended that Ohio scrap all direct-recording electronic touch screen systems.  

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UPDATED Action Alert: Contact Rep. Boswell TODAY to Protect the 2008 Election

( - promoted by Simon Stevenson)

[Update: Today we learned that Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia, like Rep. Boswell a Blue Dog Democrat, has expressed support for HR 811 even without the unfunded mandate amendment. The bill will not get to the floor until Friday, so there is time to contact Rep. Boswell, and be sure to tell him about Rep. Marshall!]

HR 811, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, is getting a vote this week. Passage of the bill is essential to a verifiable 2008 election. We need voter-verified paper records and random mandatory audits by 2008!

There is a potential amendment to the bill that needs to be defeated. An “unfunded mandate” amendment could be introduced that would delay the 2008 deadline for paper records and audits.  This amendment is unnecessary. HR 811 now allows states and counties to purchase less expensive paper-trail printers for the 2008 election. And last spring Iowa passed funding for upgrades that meet the 2008 requirements of the bill (see line 10-21). The bill is probably going to the floor on Thursday so today is the day to act.

**Call Congressman Boswell TODAY at 202-225-3806 to tell him to oppose the unfunded mandate amendment to HR 811!**

More on the flip.

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Tell Clinton, Dodd, Obama: A Paper Trail by 2008 is a MUST

We finally got a paper ballot law for our state, but Iowans must step up ensure that the 2008 Presidential election is not decided by tens of millions of votes that cannot be verified or truly recounted.

Last Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced the Ballot Integrity Act of 2007 (no bill number yet), which will require that all voting systems used in federal elections offer a voter-verified paper record- by 2010. The bill will also require equally important routine hand audits of the paper records – by 2010. Among the bills cosponsors are Senators Hillary Clinton, Christopher Dodd, and Barack Obama.

The Ballot Integrity Act will likely be treated as a companion to Rep. Rush Holt’s bill HR 811, a bill which is very near to a full House vote, so the prospects of a conference committee this summer are strong. HR 811 has a 2008 deadline for paper records and audits.

There is good stuff in the Senate bill, but 2010 is too late as a deadline. Unless federal or state legislation changes things, 13 states are likely to use paperless electronic voting, either exclusively or extensively, in the 2008 election. Among those states are Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and South Carolina.

That’s tens of millions of votes, dependent entirely on the correctness of software. What a risky and foolish gamble, in the wake of a drumbeat of security reports, a comprehensive analysis by a task force of top computer scientists, and vote-altering glitches in recent elections.

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