Publicly Verified Votes Essential to Trustworthy Elections
by Albin Kolwicz, May 2, 2004
[In a May 2 e-mail, Albin Kolwicz wrote, "We submitted the following letter to the Federal Election Assistance Commission. I truly hope that the EAC will undertake to understand our viewpoint, and will act at the May 5th meeting to protect every voter's right to verify votes and the public's right to verify counts."]
We have information that we believe Commission members and staff will want to consider for the upcoming EAC meeting.
A large number of voters believe that our voting system must provide every voter the opportunity to verify that their vote is RECORDED correctly, and must provide political campaigns and the public the opportunity to verify that voter's verified votes are kept secure and that they are interpreted, counted and recounted, and tabulated correctly. The Colorado Senate just unanimously passed a resolution supporting this position -- SJR 04-010 Concerning paperless voting systems.
These two components, (1) voter verified voting, and (2) publicly verified vote interpretation, counting and tabulation, are distinct and require unique measures.
The public debate over DRE [Direct Record Electronic] voting equipment has so far resulted in what is thought to be a "cheap fix" -- that is, (1) add a receipt printer to the DRE and let the voter verify what is recorded on the receipt, and (2) recount the votes on the receipts if there is a need.
We believe that adding a receipt printer to DRE voting equipment does not adequately address the problems or meet the requirements for secure, verifiable, and accurate elections. Consider the following:
1. If there is more than one official record of votes, how will the discrepancy be resolved when the electronic votes report that candidate-A won, and the votes on the receipts report that candidate-B won?
2. The proposed receipts would not contain the full-ballot-text and consequently will be almost unverifiable by most voters who require more than a one line summary to verify their votes (e.g. AMENDMENT 14A -- YES).
3. Voter verification of the votes on a receipt is a cynical and false assurance to the voting public since no voter will verify the actual votes that will be counted -- the votes actually used to decide almost all elections -- the electronic votes.
4. Votes on receipts would rarely be counted since they would come into play only in the event of a recount.
5. The summary of votes on the proposed receipts would make it excessively costly to count/recount the votes, thereby making it even less likely that votes on receipts would ever be counted.
6. There has been no proposed method for the public to verify that electronic votes are kept secure and that they are interpreted, counted and recounted, and tabulated correctly.
7. The counting of absentee and in-person votes would be performed by two incompatible systems -- a non-verifiable electronic vote counting system and a verifiable absentee vote counting system.
There exist solutions that achieve both: (1) voter verifiable voting, and (2) publicly verifiable vote interpretation, counting and tabulation. We hope that we can inform the EAC members and staff of these solutions so that they can make an informed decision.
We understand that the EAC will consider this topic on May 5th and want to do what we can to make sure that they understand these options.
We are citizen volunteers. We're not selling products. Our interest is strictly Trustworthy Elections.
If you're not the right person to address this request, will you please help us to get in touch with the right person?
Thank you very much.