Tuesday, April 12, 2005

How do regional voting centers improve elections?

Colorado election officials are continuing to spend public resources to eliminate traditional neighborhood voting places. When Colorado election officials supported a ballot initiative to require that all voting be done by mail 60 percent of voters soundly defeated the initiative. Officials now want people to vote in regional voting centers. They claim that regional voting centers would reduce the cost of conducting elections and would be easier for officials to manage.

Voters care most about election integrity. Voters expect secure, accurate, verifiable, and transparent elections that they can trust. Cost is not the primary consideration.

Before neighborhood voting places are eliminated the public needs lots of answers. A few of the questions are:

1. What professional, peer-reviewed studies have been published that prove that regional voting centers are secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent?

2. Compared to neighborhood voting using hand-counted paper ballots, precisely how are voting centers more secure, accurate, verifiable, and transparent?

3. Voting center data are kept in invisible computer files rather than on real-time paper records. How would the computer data be provided to empower poll watchers and contestants to detect and challenge problems in a timely fashion?

4. Voting center ballots are issued on-demand - electronically. Traditional paper ballots are pre-printed, contain a serial number which is removed before the ballot is cast, issued to a specific voter, and tracked on paper logs. How are on-demand ballots more secret, secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent?

5. When voting centers are networked together how is the voting system kept secure? When voting centers are not networked together how are electors prevented from voting more than once?

In addition the public needs to understand the consequences of eliminating the neighborhood voting place (precinct) as the organizational unit for Colorado’s political parties. What is being proposed to replace the precinct committeeperson? How will political parties be structured?

Anything that reduces the public’s trust in elections is a threat to representative self-governance. Consequently, before going forward with voting centers the public’s questions must be answered and time given for the public to assimilate the answers.

Elections are for the people, not for election officials. It is not in the public’s interest to replace traditional precinct voting places with centralized voting centers unless it can be proven to critics that voting centers will improve the security, accuracy, verifiability and transparency of elections.