Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Election bills eliminate oversight

Colorado’s already distrusted election system will be made even more untrustworthy if Governor Owens signs SB198/206. The bills are a last minute, backroom deal between the Secretary of State and the bill sponsors.

The bills would limit independent election oversight and legalize unsound and deceptive election procedures. At risk are free and fair elections and open government.

Following is a one page description of two fundamental problems with the bill. A seven page report which identifies seventy-five specific problems is available by sending an e-mail request to AlKolwicz@qwest.net .


Election bills eliminate oversight

The primary purpose of Senate Bill 198/206 is to eliminate independent election oversight.

In past elections, watchdogs, the press, and political party representatives have uncovered and reported many election flaws. These flaws include illegal voter registration, lost ballots, miscounted votes, and illegal election procedures.

Rather than fixing the cause of the problems, election officials have decided to prevent overseers from detecting and reporting these problems. Traditionally, this is referred to as “kill the messenger”. Less kindly, it is referred to as “cover-up”.

The Colorado legislature, after intense pressure by election officials, has approved and submitted SB-198/206 to Governor Owens for approval. Unless the bill is vetoed, Colorado’s already distrusted election system will be made even more untrustworthy.

According to a detailed report published by the non-partisan election watchdog group CAMBER – Citizens for Accurate Mail Ballot Election Results:

1. SB-198/206 strips the public and political parties of their right to oversee elections. The bill will:

  • Exempt critical election records from Colorado open records laws. These records do not contain voter confidential information and can be used to detect fraud and error.

  • Strip political parties of their current powers to appoint representatives to official election duties. Instead, election officials would decide who gets to participate in these critical oversight roles.

  • Eliminate current laws that require independent testing of voting equipment by political party representatives. Instead, only election officials create the tests. Officials can create tests that they know will work by testing them in private. They then run the “tests” in front of the public.

    This bill exempts election officials from public oversight. It is a step in the wrong direction. There will be no way left to detect fraud, error and incompetence. There will be no way left to hold election officials accountable for the security, accuracy and verifiability of elections.

2. SB-198/206 sets technical requirements that will not work – they ignore basic science.

  • Voters will be told that they are verifying their votes when they verify a “receipt”, but in fact they are not. Instead, votes recorded on invisible, unverified electronic ballots will be used to decide (almost) every future contest. The votes on receipts will (almost) never be counted.

  • The public will be told that equipment has been tested and results have been checked or recounted. Instead, the bill legalizes sampling techniques that rely on naive, statistically inadequate confidence levels.

    Elementary, widely accepted testing principles are legally forbidden by this bill. The result of implementing this bill will be less voter confidence, more defects, and more undetected fraud.

History has shown that when elections are not open to public scrutiny they are not trusted. SB-198/206 freezes the public out of the election process and opens the doors to election fraud, error and abuse and to widespread citizen distrust of election results.

A copy of the CAMBER report is available. Seventy-five problems with the bill are identified.

It is time to veto SB-198/206 and start over.

* * * END * * *

CAMBER is a dedicated group of volunteers who are working to ensure that every voter gets to vote once, every vote is counted once, and that every ballot is secure and anonymous. Contact Al Kolwicz at 303-494-1540 or AlKolwicz@qwest.net

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Petition to veto SB05-198 and SB05-206

TO: Coloradoans for Voting Integrity:

Before celebrating too enthusiastically, I suggest that you carefully read what has been published as the final version of SB05-198 and SB05-206.

To protect CFVI’s reputation, you might consider disassociating CFVI from the egregious power grab by Colorado election officials.

These bills reflect election officials’ repression of the people. They will result in substantial loss of public trust in elections.

Instead of celebrating, I suggest that you use tonight’s event to petition Governor Owens to veto SB05-198 and SB05-206.


cc: Governor Bill Owens

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Precinct voting is alive and well in Colorado

El Paso County Clerk, Bob Balink, convened a task force to evaluate “precinct voting vs. vote center voting and draw conclusions based on their findings”.

After reviewing the task force report and the clerk’s recommendations, and after evaluating lengthy public testimony, the five county commissioners unanimously voted to keep traditional precinct voting places and to reject voting centers and mail ballot elections.

Precinct voting better protects voter privacy and offers more secure, accurate, verifiable, and transparent elections.

Election officials have been accused of sacrificing trustworthy elections in order to make their own work easier and less accountable. There is an increasing demand for elections that can be trusted and verified.

To listen to the hearing, click:
(The item is recorded from time 47.54 until 144.48.)

To see the task force documents, click: http://car.elpasoco.com/vctaskforce.asp

Mesa County has an active task force studying the use of voting centers. See the April 12th and April 20th postings in the Colorado Voter blog: www.ColoradoVoter.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Voter verifiable ballot now available

Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) have completed testing of the AutoMARK vote marking device.

This new voting technology provides voters with a true voter verifiable paper ballot – even when a voter has special needs. It is certified to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It eliminates the need for the digital ballots used with Digital Recording Equipment (DRE). Digital ballots are not verifiable.

Systest Labs - and Ciber are preparing final test reports and will issue them to the Federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) within the next two to three weeks.

Click below for additional information:

AutoMARK Completes Independent Testing


ADA Compliance statement

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Election integrity threat

The integrity of November's election is being threatened.

Oversight nullified

Some counties are planning to conduct “mail ballot” elections and others are planning “voting center” elections – both nullify independent oversight.

Both of these voting methods make it nearly impossible for election judges, canvass boards, and poll watchers to detect and report election problems. If left unchallenged, officials will strip powers from independent overseers and concentrate dangerous, unilateral powers in the hands of themselves.

Conflict of interest

Counties and the Secretary of State have a huge stake in the outcome of a tax increase question on November's ballot -- they alone will control the election apparatus.

Who gets to vote, whose vote is counted, does a particular vote get counted, how issues will be resolved ... all decided by one side of the contest. If left unchallenged, these decisions will be made in the back room, by the people who have the most to gain from outcome of the tax increase question.

Protect our votes

To protect our votes, these threats must be dealt with promptly.

1. Officials must include their strongest critics in oversight duties for this election.

2. Officials must fully empower citizen and political party overseers to perform their duties.

3. Officials must not use equipment or procedures unless independent overseers agree that they are secure, accurate, verifiable and transparent.

Volunteer to help protect our votes.

Potential conflict of interest

Colorado bureaucrats wish they had an extra 3 billion dollars. Their wish will be decided in a November 2005 election.

Out of millions of voters, one vote can decide whether or not these billions will be taken from the people.

Officials, by neglect, error or intent, can falsify election results.

Colorado elections are not secure, accurate, verifiable, or transparent. They can easily be rigged – especially by insiders.

Officials must never be trusted – especially when there is a potential conflict of interest. Independent overseers must verify each and every step of the election process.

It is vital that officials open the November election to maximum public oversight. Equipment and procedures that are not provably secure, accurate, verifiable, and transparent should not be used.

Unless elections are open, the potential conflict of interest will cause deep voter distrust.