Monday, August 01, 2005

Colorado proposed rules fail to address known issues

CAMBER comments - Election Rules 8 CCR 1515-1 – August 1, 2005

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules – 8-CCR 1505-1. In our opinion, any election conducted under these rules will not be secure, accurate, verifiable or transparent.

The proposed rules, in conjunction with the revised statutes, fail to address many of the past problems and complaints that have been reported to the Secretary and to individual county clerks including, by way of example:
  1. Watchers have been denied access to records, charged fees for election records, prevented from reading and analyzing non-private records, and excluded from some phases of elections. There is no independent mechanism to resolve differences of opinion between watchers and election officials.
  2. Non-anonymous ballots are permitted under these rules. This is a violation of Article VII, section 8 of the Colorado Constitution.
  3. Voting equipment/software functional specifications, performance, and versions are not public under these rules. Certification-test requirements are not specified. Testing and test materials are not open to the public. There is no remedy prescribed when, during an election, voting equipment is discovered to be incorrectly programmed.
  4. Mail ballot elections have disenfranchised electors by permitting ineligible voters to vote and subjecting ballots to loss and theft. Voters have been denied their right to vote using a secret ballot. Officials have recklessly tempted people to vote ballots that are not their own, to sell their signed ballot for money or favor, or to intimidate eligible voters to vote for or against contestants.
  5. Identification and eligibility rules have not reliably verified that an individual voter is the unique real person they claim to be and have not verified that the individual is eligible to vote in a particular jurisdiction at the time that they vote. Amateur signature verification described by the rules is not a reliable means to verify identity and there is no specification of an acceptable error rate for individual signature verification personnel.
  6. Canvass procedures have not discovered fraud and error in past elections, although fraud and error were present. Election records and computer files needed to conduct a meaningful canvass have been denied to canvass boards. The Secretary of State and the County Clerks have a conflict of interest. They are under great pressure from campaigns and the press to complete an election in a timely manner. This conflicts with the public’s interest for secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent elections. There has been no independent way to resolve disagreements.
  7. Security of ballots and equipment has been lax. Ballots wind up in public trash dumps before the election. Ballot boxes have been “misplaced”. There has been no way to verify that the voter’s votes are actually recorded on a digital ballot, and whether digital ballots are “lost”, “replaced” or “created” between the time that they are presumably created by the voter and the time at which they are counted.
  8. Logic and accuracy test procedures have failed to detect errors in voting equipment and software. Procedures have been highly criticized and resulted in legal action. Computer professionals have no confidence in these tests.
As can be seen from the few illustrations above, the proposed rules must undergo significant additions and revisions before the public can responsibly trust that an election conducted under these rules is secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent.

As per C.R.S. 24-4-103 (4)(c), please forward copies of the scientific or technological rationale justifying those rules which involve scientific or technological issues. We are interested in all studies. We expect to see an analysis of error rates for processes such as signature verification. We expect to see the statistical basis for the audit procedure. We expect to see an analysis of the difference in security, accuracy, verifiability and transparency between the different methods of voting and the different voting equipment.

As per C.R.S. 24-4-103 (8)(b), please forward copies of the Attorney General’s opinion as to the constitutionality of these rules. We expect to see his opinion on whether the rules will protect each eligible elector’s right to vote using an anonymous ballot according to Article VII Section 8 of the Colorado Constitution.

To summarize, in our opinion, any election conducted under these rules will not be secure, accurate, verifiable or transparent.