FROM:   Kim Alexander
DATE:   December 20, 2002
RE:   CVF-NEWS roundup -- voting tech, Indian gaming and more

In this edition of CVF-NEWS:

* California certifies first touchscreen system that includes a voter-verified paper trail
* Paper trail definitions and thoughts
* Time magazine reports on Indian tribes' political influence in California
* CVF office holiday hours, new phone number

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* California certifies first touchscreen system that includes a voter-verified paper trail

Earlier this month the California Voting Systems Panel met and certified the Avante "Vote-Trakker" voting system. This is the system that was used by Sacramento County for early voting this Fall, and is the only system currently certified in California or anywhere in the United States that includes a voter-verified paper trail feature. For more information and images of the machine, visit

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* Paper trail definitions and thoughts

I think there has been some confusion about the term "paper trail" as it relates to voting systems, and thought it might be helpful to share some definitions I've been using:

1. "Voter-verified paper trail" -- a replication of a voter's ballot, produced at the time the voter votes and available to the voter for inspection.

2. "Printed ballot image" -- a replication of a voter's individual ballot.

3. "Printed ballot summary" -- a printout of all the votes cast by all voters on an individual voting machine through the course of the election day.

4. "Receipt" -- a piece of paper given to a voter which is proof *that* they voted (not proof of *how* they voted).

I believe the first type of paper trail, which is voter-verified and produced at the time the voter votes, is the only kind that is sufficient to back up digital ballots. With the second and third type of paper trails, both are produced after the polls close, so if there are any glitches or attempts to commit voter fraud, both types of printouts will simply produce the same corrupted information that exists on the machines. The fourth kind of paper trail, the receipt, where it is utilized today, is not designed to use later as a way for voters to confirm their ballot choices. It is usually a tear-off stub from the voter's ballot and is basically a "feel-good" gesture, similar to the distribution of "I Voted" stickers.

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* Time magazine reports on Indian tribes' political influence in California

The December 23 edition of Time Magazine features the second part of a two-part investigative report by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele on the rise of Indian gaming.

The article, titled "Playing the Political Slots -- How Indian casino interests have learned the art of buying influence in Washington", gives a fascinating and well-researched overview of how Indian tribes have spent millions on campaign contributions and pro-gaming propositions in California to facilitate the rapid rise of Indian gaming., and how some tribes are using sovereignty as a shield to avoid timely disclosure of campaign contributions.

Here's an excerpt (it's a rather long excerpt but this part is so interesting and informative I wanted to share it with you):

"Tribes may be wielding increased political influence in Washington, but at the state level, small Indian tribes with immensely profitable casinos are exerting even more disproportionate clout. Nowhere is it greater than in California, where combined Indian gaming revenue, at $4 billion and growing, is set to surpass that of all the casinos in Las Vegas. How much are tribes spending? To win passage of the two ballot initiatives in 1998 and 2000 that legalized Indian gaming in the state, several small tribes spent a total of nearly $100 million. The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians, which owns a casino in San Bernardino County, spent a staggering $34.7 million-an average of almost $520,000 for each of the tribe's 67 adult members. Both initiatives passed.

"It's not only the size of the political expenditures that is causing concern. Some tribes have violated campaign-finance laws. Earlier this year, California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which monitors the state's elections, charged that since 1998 one tribe-the 232-member AguaCaliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which has a pair of money-churning casinos near Palm Springs-had failed to promptly report multiple contributions totaling $8.5 million. When the commission tried to work out a settlement, the Agua Caliente would not negotiate, contending that because the tribe is a sovereign nation, California campaign-finance laws do not apply. Like all federally recognized tribes, the Agua Caliente is a self-governing entity and thus generally exempt from state and local laws.

"Despite that, the commission filed a lawsuit, assuming that California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer-the state's top law-enforcement officer-would represent the agency. But he declined. Lockyer, by the way, has accepted substantial campaign contributions from Indian tribes-some $800,000 in the past four years, including $175,000 from the Agua Caliente Band. As a consequence, the commission has had to hire an outside lawyer, a move that will cost unnecessary tax dollars. Jim Knox, California Common Cause's executive director, believes that actions against the Agua Caliente and other tribes must be pursued. "If they are sovereign nations, they shouldn't be able to contribute to candidates or ballot measures," says Knox, pointing out that it's illegal for a foreign state or business to pump money into U.S. elections. "And if they aren't, they should be subject to the state's election and campaign-finance laws. The tribes are trying to have it both ways."

"And so far, that has worked. Tribes have become California's largest special-interest donors. In his recent reelection campaign, Governor Gray Davis picked up $1.8 million from them, and he, more than anyone else, is responsible for the face of California gaming. The compacts he signed with the tribes in 1999 paved the way for the explosion in the state's Indian casinos, which number 48 and may climb to 70.

"Because tribes pay no state or local taxes, the compacts Davis negotiated provide for tribal contributions to a special impact fund. The money will go to local communities overburdened by booming casinos and help defray the increased costs of local government services. California officials estimate that the tribes will pay about $100 million a year into the fund. By contrast,Connecticut collected $332 million last year from its two Indian casinos, Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun. If California tribes were paying at the same rate-25% of slot revenue-the state would collect up to $1 billion."

The full text of the article is available online at,9171,1101021223-399923,00.html .

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* CVF office holiday hours, new phone number

During the holiday season, the California Voter Foundation's offices will be closed from Monday, December 23 through Wednesday, January 1, and re-opening on January 2.

Also, I recently moved and have a new home office number, which is 916-441-2494. I will be checking my email over the holidays so please feel free to keep in touch. CVF's office number in Davis remains unchanged -- 530-750-7650.

With warmest wishes to you and yours this holiday season,

Kim Alexander & the California Voter Foundation staff

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

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This page was first published on December 20, 2002 | Last updated on December 20, 2002
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