Biggest problems in HR811 after markup

By Teresa Hommel

July 18, 2007


Not listed here: Subsequent to the markup, there was a mysterious disappearance of the requirement that paper emergency ballots be available at all poll sites in case of DRE failure. This requirement needs to be put back into the bill.


1. Votes on ballots are not required to be counted.


2. Requirements are unclear for determining final results when paper ballots have been compromised.


3.a. The bill would give vendors' trade secret claims priority over citizens' right to know how elections are conducted. As a result, the bill puts unfair burdens on citizens to request disclosure of software from ITAs, appeal denials of disclosure and seek undefined remedies for denied or delayed disclosure by undefined procedures. Citizens also bear the risk of  lawsuits if vendors or ITAs assert improper use of disclosed information. Cmt 12-23.


3.b. Disclosure requirements make ballot definition files difficult to obtain and subject to non-disclosure agreements, enlarge the functions of ITAs, require privatization of the escrow of software, and create barriers that would prevent anyone from detecting errors in version control. States must maintain a permanent relationship with at least one ITA, the one that escrows the software of the system they use. Unless states ALSO escrow the software they use, there will be no way to detect errors in version control by ITAs and vendors.


4. Communications capability is allowed in voting systems, and internet connection is allowed in Election Management Systems and central tabulators.


5. Trivial, unenforceable "security" requirements.


6. Weak requirements for emergency paper ballots when DREs fail.


7. ITA requirements shut out citizens as well as local jurisdictions and states.


8. Public money is authorized to develop voting system software, to the benefit of private vendors one presumes, but no money is authorized to develop methods for using and securing publicly understandable and observable voting methods such as the use of voter-marked paper ballots.


9. Increased duties and unlimited authorization of funds for EAC.


10. $1,000,000,000 (that's a billion) for new equipment when no products meet 2005 VVSG.


11. Small audits triggered only by margin of victory.

. . a. Spot-check audits of 10%, 5% and 3%.

. . b. When initial tallies show a candidate with 80% vote share, no audit needs to be done.


12. No specific time requirement for how soon audits must begin after random precincts are selected, which allows delays and defeat of the element of "surprise."


13. No requirement for public observation of all handling of voted ballots from the time they are cast till election results are final.


14. Timely information not available to the public and candidates.