FROM:   Saskia Mills, CVF Executive Director
DATE:   January 30, 2002
RE:   CVF president to address election tech workshop

Hi Folks,

CVF president Kim Alexander is in Washington, D.C. this week to participate in a workshop on "Election Standards and Technology." This event is sponsored by the CalTech-MIT Voting Technology Project, with funding support from the National Science Foundation, and will be held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Kim will address the workshop tomorrow morning, Thursday, January 31, on the topic "Standardizing Integrity, Secrecy and Robustness". A summary of her planned remarks is below.

The event is open to the public, but advance registration is required. If you are interested in attending, please visit the workshop web site at for more information and to register online.

-- Saskia Mills, Executive Director
California Voter Foundation, (530) 750-7650


Workshop on Election Standards and Technology
Washington, D.C., January 31 - February 1, 2002

Executive Summary of Remarks by Kim Alexander,
President of the California Voter Foundation

The California Voter Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing new technologies to improve democracy. CVF's web site,, includes a "Voting Technology Resources" web page featuring information, links and news on voting technology developments.

Key Points and Recommendations

Computerized voting is a 21st century solution trying to fit into a 19th century system. Computerized voting can increase the reliability of vote tabulation and make elections easier to administer, but at what cost? We need to compensate for the loss of transparancy in a computerized voting system. Some of the ways to do this include:

o require computerized voting systems to generate a voter-verified paper ballot that is also counted and counts as the final vote;

o require the source code for computerized voting systems be public and be routinely re-certified;

o require election agencies to develop in-house expertise to verify the software that is used to cast or count votes is working properly; and

o identify the "trust points" that exist in a paper ballot system and determine ways to replicate them in a computerized ballot system.

Abstention votes, or "nonvotes" need to be included in ballot design for all voting systems. Without the ability for voters to proactively cast a nonvote in a given contest on the ballot comes an increased opportunity for voter fraud as well as a potential risk to ballot secrecy if a precinct counter optical scan system is deployed to warn voters of undervotes. Giving voters the ability to cast a nonvote in a race will also improve our ability to evaluate the reliability and performance of our voting systems.

Voter privacy must be considered in standards for voter registration databases. Computerization and centralization of voter registration data will improve the administration of elections, but it will also increase public access to this data, which in turn undermines voter privacy. Without additional privacy protections and with increased centralization of this data we run the risk of forcing people to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their privacy.

Long term solutions for the voting challenges in the future call for more involvement from a variety of sectors in the development of voting technology, as well as an ongoing funding commitment from the federal and state governments.

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This page was first published on January 30, 2002 | Last updated on January 30, 2002
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