Paper Ballots: DFA and the Local Angle
By Jim Dean and Jerry Depew (Iowa Voters)
First a Note from Jim Dean, posted last week.
On Election Night, DFA-endorsed candidate Barbara McIlvaine
Smith was down by 19 votes in her race for the Pennsylvania state
house. She refused to concede, saying, “It is not about winning
or losing… It's about making sure our democracy is intact.”
Earlier this week the count of absentee and military paper ballots
concluded, and Barbara won by 23 votes — switching the Pennsylvania
House from Republican to Democratic for the first time in 12 years.
This powerful victory happened because every paper ballot was
counted. But across America votes are increasingly being cast
electronically with no paper record. Had the election in
Pennsylvania been conducted electronically there is no saying how the
race might have been decided.
You helped elect a new Democratic House and Senate in Washington,
D.C. It's time to put our majority into action. Ask Speaker
Nancy Pelosi to put paper ballots on the agenda in the new Congress's
first 100 hours:
The danger of paperless elections is clear. Look at Sarasota County,
Florida. They use paperless touch screen voting machines. In the
hotly contested Congressional race there, Election Night ended with
Republican Vern Buchanan ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings by less
than one-quarter of one percent. This triggered an automatic recount.
On November 20, state election officials certified Buchanan as the
winner by 369 votes, despite the fact that there were 18,000
“under-votes” in the county. An under-vote is when a machine
reports a vote cast for another office, but not for the Congressional
seat. The percentage of under-votes in Democratic leaning
Sarasota County was far higher than in surrounding counties. And
many voters reported that their votes were not recorded on their
electronic ballot. Some said the machine skipped the race while others
couldn't find the race listed at all.
Currently this contest is being litigated in the courts. But the
results of this election will be forever in doubt because there are no
paper ballots to review.
This is unacceptable. Congress has the power to mandate that all
elections take place using paper ballots. Ask the new Democratic
majority to make it a priority:
The Democrats are committed to an impressive agenda in the first 100
hours of the Congress. They will raise the minimum wage, require
Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, implement the 9/11
Commission security recommendations, cut the interests rates on student
loans, and broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal
funds. But Democrats can't stop there.
Let's restore America's faith in Democracy too. Let's make sure
that in the first 100 hours the Democratic majority makes paper ballots
Thank you for doing your part,
Now for some local context – Here's what Jerry Depew at Iowa Voters has to say about paper trails and Mauro's new hire in Iowa. Petulant Paper Trail Foe Promoted!
outspoken opponent of paper trails has been appointed to oversee Iowa
elections by the newly elected Secretary of State Michael Mauro. Mauro
promised to get paper trails during the campaign.
Linn county auditor Linda “You Terrorists!” Langenberg who has been
promoted to the role of deputy secretary of state. In October
Langenberg said voting machine critics were practicing a “form of
terrorism” in their campaign against paperless voting. During the 2005
legislative session, Langenberg was accused by a knowledgeable source
of being a principle obstacle preventing progress toward a paper trail.
Her October remarks have just drawn this belated response from Green party’s candidate for Lt Gov, Richard Johnson:
Needless to say, I was rather surprised that you, a county auditor,
were so poorly informed regarding the potential hazards of these
paperless electronic voting machines you were defending. I responded,
along with my running mate Wendy Barth, to your comments by mentioning
how easily these small computers can be compromised, or “hacked” to use
The article further states, Ms. Langenberg, that you believe that
because these machines are never connected to the Internet they are
safe from such problems. Having spent nearly a quarter century working
with computers, with the last fourteen as a technology coordinator in a
school with some 400 computers connected to our LAN/WAN, I can assure
you that lack of Internet exposure is no guarantee against problems. .
Ms. Langenberg, by comparing those of us who question the reliability
of paperless electronic voting to terrorists, and by accusing us of
undermining voter confidence in the system, you have done the citizens
of your county, and even the state, a grave disservice. . . .[T]hose of
us questioning this “advancement” in voting systems do not wish to
undermine voter confidence. We want to build that confidence by
insuring that elected officials, such as yourself, both understand the
problem and take action to prevent a similar incident[a reference to
the current missing votes in Sarasota–ed] from happening in our state
or, more specifically, in your county.”
Looks like Johnson held his ire too long.
This is no way to improve elections, Mr Mauro. Can you explain this appointment?