FROM:   Kim Alexander
DATE:   January 30, 2003
RE:   CVF-NEWS voting tech round-up

* Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to review electronic voting contact Friday, Jan. 31
* Clarifying the paper trail provisions of Proposition 41
* Plaintiff in Riverside touchscreen voting lawsuit files appeal with 9th Circuit Court
* Canadian Internet-based election hacked

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* Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to review electronic voting contact Friday, Jan. 31

This Friday, January 31, Santa Clara County's Board of Supervisors' Finance and Government committee will meet to review the county election department's decision to award their contract for new, touchscreen voting equipment to Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland. The meeting will be chaired by Supervisor Jim Beall and will take place from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. at the County Government Center, 70 West Hedding Street, San Jose.

It is a public meeting and there will be an opportunity for members of the public to address the supervisors. Given the strong editorial the San Jose Mercury News published last week raising concerns about unauditable, paperless computerized voting systems, it will be interesting to see if there are new questions raised about the system the county intends to purchase.

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* Clarifying the paper trail provisions of Proposition 41

There appears to be growing confusion about the paper trail requirements included in Proposition 41, the Voting Modernization Bond Act passed by California voters last March that provides $200 million to purchase new voting equipment. I thought it would be helpful to clarify what the law says.

New voting equipment is only eligible for state matching funds if it meets several requirements. One of these is a paper trail requirement contained in section 19234. (e): "Any voting system purchased using bond funds that does not require a voter to directly mark on the ballot must produce, at the time the voter votes his or her ballot or at the time the polls are closed, a paper version or representation of the voted ballot or of all the ballots cast on a unit of the voting system. The paper version shall not be provided to the voter but shall be retained by elections officials for use during the 1 percent manual recount or other recount or contest."

The three California counties using touchscreen voting systems -- Alameda, Riverside and Plumas -- are using equipment that prints vote summaries of all ballots cast; printed ballot images are only produced for the one percent of ballots cast as required for manual recount purposes. The question that's been raised is whether Prop. 41 requires counties that get bond funds to now print ballot images for 100 percent of their ballots, not just one percent.

The difference between printed ballot images and printed vote summaries is subtle but significant. A printed ballot image shows all of an individual voter's votes as they were cast, contest by contest. Printed vote summaries show all the votes cast by all the voters on a voting machine over the course of the voting day (i.e. "500 voters voted on this machine and cast the following total votes: 210 for Davis; 190 for Simon;" etc etc.).

Prop. 41 says funding will go to computerized voting systems that produce a "paper version or representation of the voted ballot or of all the ballots cast on a unit of the voting system". If it said a paper version or representation of all the *votes* cast, as opposed to *ballots*, then printed vote summaries would meet the requirements of Prop. 41. But the bond act says ballots must be printed, not votes. So it appears those three touchscreen counties, and any others that obtain state funds for new computerized voting systems, will have to print ballot images for 100 percent of their ballots in order to legally obtain Prop. 41 funds. They can still print those ballot images at poll closing time rather than when the voter is present (which is what CVF prefers), but they must print ballot images of all their digital ballots to receive Prop. 41 funding.

It will be up to the Voting Modernization Board and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, who authored Prop. 41, to ensure that state funds are awarded appropriately and counties comply with Prop. 41's paper trail requirements. The next meeting of the Voting Modernization Board will be held Wednesday, February 19 at 10 a.m. at the Secretary of State's office in Sacramento.

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* Plaintiff in Riverside touchscreen voting lawsuit files appeal with 9th Circuit Court

Susan Marie Weber, the Riverside County, California voter who sued the Secretary of State and her county elections director over the constitutionality of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) "touchscreen" voting machines used in Riverside County, is appealing her case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Weber filed her opening brief last week, which is online at Weber contends that Riverside County's machines rob her of her right to vote in an election that is "safe from fraud and manipulation" as required in the California Election Code. In the lower court, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson concluded that the State's interest in easy, attractive voting machines which allow people to vote in any language and might increase voter turnout, outweighed the voters' interest in verifiable results.

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* Canadian Internet-based election hacked

Canada's CBC News reported this week that hackers attacked a political party's Internet-based leadership vote. According to the article, online at , "Voting at the NDP leadership convention in Toronto was disrupted Saturday by what organizers called a malicious attempt to shut down the computer system. Party members were frustrated during voting on the first ballot, as thousands across the country tried to log on and cast ballots using the Internet."

CBC News reported that Earl Hurd of said he believes someone used a "denial of service" program to disrupt the voting which paralyzed the central computer by bombarding it with a stream of data. This is exactly the kind of attack the California Internet Voting Task Force warned of in our January 2000 report, (online at and one of many reasons why we are not ready for remote Internet voting.

When CBC News asked Hurd if the culprit would strike again, Hurd replied, "Unless he died in the last few minutes because of the evil thoughts in my brain, he or she is still out there," and laughed about it, according to the article. I found this comment bizarre and troubling, especially in light of the fact that is one of the companies that will be facilitating the U.S. Government's "Voting Over the Internet" program for overseas military personnel in 2004.

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation,
(916) 441-2494

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This page was first published on January 30, 2003 | Last updated on January 30, 2003
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