Saturday, April 24, 2004

Time for Action - Friday, April 23, 2004 4:20 PM Al to Belinda


I hope that you are able to read this reply. I want you to know that people working for verifiable elections are very sensitive to the needs of voters with disabilities.

To privately vote an anonymous ballot is a right of every voter -- including disabled voters.

Every voter also has the right to verify that the votes recorded on one's own ballot are correct.

Hand marked paper ballots permit sighted voters to verify their votes, but prevent blind voters from voting in private.

Voting equipment that provides an ADA compliant interface can enable disabled voters to make their selections in private. There are at least two classes of such voting equipment: (1) Direct Record Electronic voting equipment, and (2) paper ballot vote marking equipment.

We vigorously support the use of voting equipment for voters, whether or not they are disabled. Not only can such equipment permit private voting, it can also make for a more accurate election because it reduces unintended under votes, eliminates over votes, and significantly reduces the number of ambiguous votes that require interpretation of voter intent.

However, we strongly oppose the use of Direct Record Electronic voting equipment because it records the votes in computer memory -- a so called "electronic ballot". Votes recorded in computer memory are not verifiable by the voter, they might not reflect the choice that the voter intended, they might be changed before they are counted, and there is no way to conduct a recount of the ballots that were verified by the voter (since there are none).

On the other hand, we strongly support the use of the second type of voting equipment -- paper ballot vote marking equipment. It provides all of the benefits outlined above and none of the problems. Voters with disabilities use the same user interface to make their selections as they would with a DRE. The differences between the two types of equipment occur after the voter presses the vote button (a DRE machine invisibly records something in computer memory, and a paper ballot vote marking machine prints the votes on the paper ballot). Votes on the paper ballot can be verified. A blind voter may re-insert their marked paper ballot into the machine and the machine will "read" the votes to the voter so the voter can verify that the votes are recorded as intended. A sighted voter may inspect the paper ballot and verify that the votes are recorded as intended. Either may request a replacement ballot if something is wrong. The machine does not remember the votes.

In addition to the obvious benefits to able and disabled voters outlined above, vote counting can be verified, recounts can reexamine the original verified ballots, and the same procedures used to count precinct and early ballots that were marked by voting machines can be used to count the hand-marked absentee ballots.

DRE equipment is not trustworthy and as a result elections conducted using DRE equipment are not trustworthy.

Paper ballot vote marking equipment on the other hand provides private voting for disabled voters without sacrificing the ability of all voters to verify that their vote is recorded correctly. Paper ballots also provide a way to verify that all votes are counted correctly.

We hope that you will test this new equipment and verify what I have told you. We hope you will help us to ensure that every voter is given the opportunity to privately vote an anonymous ballot and that every voter can verify that their vote is correctly recorded.

Please let me know any questions that you may have.