Sunday, September 14, 2008

Election expert says Commissioners being misinformed

In response to an inquiry by, Mary Stehman, Chief Registrar for Voter Registration, stated:

"As of this time, the Department of State, Bureau of Commissions , Elections & Legislation has not certified a voter verified paper audit trail to be used by the voters of Pennsylvania. If a voter verified paper audit trail would be certified, the Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machine could be adapted to its use."

Upon being asked to comment on Stehman's position, Marybeth Kuznik, Executive Director VotePA, Statewide Alliance for Voting Rights and Election Integrity, responded:

"The statement that 'the Department of State, Bureau of Commissions , Elections & Legislation has not certified a voter verified paper audit trail to be used by the voters of Pennsylvania' is FALSE! I am so tired of fighting this misinformation. It is only the 'toilet paper' roll-printer paper records on Direct Record Electronic machines that are not permitted, and with good reason, because they may compromise the secrecy of votes, and are prone to jamming and other problems. But the paper ballots produced as part of the sScan and other scanner-based systems absolutely ARE duly certified and legal in Pennsylvania! And these PA-legal paper ballots are EXACTLY a true voter-verified paper audit trail -- one in which the audit results actually can be meaningful."

Kuznik adds: "I find it VERY alarming that there is a planned expenditure of money to buy more Direct Record Electronic machines (eSlate) in a county that supposedly uses the eSCAN paper-ballot based system. Under this 'blended' system, Lancaster really should only need ONE eSlate in each precinct polling place to accommodate voters with disabilities, with perhaps a few spare machines to be available in case of breakdown. The rest of the voters should be using the paper ballots and the scanners (one scanner per precinct should be adequate), so adding 54 more DREs seems very excessive."

Kuznik speculates, "Perhaps the county is encouraging non-disabled voters to used the DREs in Lancaster County which will lead to a disastrous snafu should the need for a recount arise because only the paper-ballot based votes will actually be able to be meaningfully recounted."

She continues, "The only current way around this is through software-independent systems that allow human-readable counting, recounting, and auditing with NO use of the software in the machine. And the only currently available system that meets this software-independent standard is voter-marked paper ballots (i.e. the ballots Lancaster voters mark for the eScan.)"

Stehman assured Newslanc that "As of this date, no Help America to Vote Act Interest-1 grant monies have been expended by the County of Lancaster for additional machines."

So there is yet time for the Commissioners to change course and purchase the minimum number of non-verifiable machines necessary to serve the sole purposes of handicap voters, and spend the rest of the federal grant for more for more voting machines with verifiable audit trails for the use of all others.