April 13, 2007
I am sending this email to let you know why I have not renewed my membership, after being a Founding Member and sending you thousands of dollars for decades.
PFAW's reasons for supporting DREs are disappointing because PFAW is defending beliefs that are obviously wrong:
--It's ok for vendors and election officials to keep a ballot secret from its own voter.
--You can trust the computer.
--Computers are "honest."
--If one computer works, another computer also works.
--If a computer worked yesterday, it will work today.
--If a computer worked yesterday, it will work the same way today.
--You can force unwilling boards of elections to do honest, real audits.
--VVPAT, which many voters can't accurately verify, is as likely to contain the voter's intent as a voter-marked ballot.
--People can mark lottery cards properly but can't mark paper ballots properly.
--Officials handling paper ballots will cheat, but officials using computers will not cheat.
PFAW believes that election integrity can be based on VVPATs and audits, and is willing to eliminate citizens from our oversight role by hiding votes and ballots inside a computer -- preventing citizens from understanding and observing how votes are recorded, cast, stored, handled, and counted.
1. PFAW is oblivious of history. PFAW's arguments have already been discredited:
a. VVPAT--has already gone through a lifecycle from people hoping it would be a "panacea" to people recognizing that it is only a "placebo".
b. Audits--You can't make Boards of Elections audit properly if they don't want to.
Please read Doug Lewis' testimony on audits.
c. Accessibility--Paper ballots are more accessible than DREs, and the voter's experience in the voting booth is irrelevant if they are not actually casting a ballot that contains the votes they intend. (This is where "we trust the computer" always comes in.)
2. The only thing that can ever make an election honest is meaningful citizen participation and observation. PFAW supports computerized votes and VVPAT which prevent both.
3. PFAW is willing to give up citizens' right to understand, participate in and observe the entire creation/casting/storage/handling/counting of votes and force all citizens to rely on computer and statistical experts. Does PFAW believe that experts are more honest than non-experts?
4. Saints and sinners: PFAW is arguing that handling and accessibility of paper ballots will be corrupt, but handling and accessibility of computers and computerized votes will be honest. The FBI 2005 Computer Crime Survey showed that computers are as honest as the people who make and use them.
5. PFAW is willing to give up initial tallies based on first-hand voter-marked ballots, and rely on small audits of second-hand vvpat. Meanwhile, studies have shown that many voters cannot verify accurately, and PFAW's own work on election problems tells you that voters will be prevented from attempting to verify the vvpat, and that audits will be only as honest and observable as the rest of an election. In other words, if the election is dishonest and citizens are shut out from appropriately observing and obtaining information, then the audit will be equally dishonest, etc.
6. When an audit reveals discrepancies, will PFAW rely on computer and statistical experts to figure it all out, or just assume that one tally is accurate when in fact both vvpat and electronic tallies can be corrupted?
As you know from PFAW's work on election problems, elections cannot be made honest by placing financial and investigatory burdens on candidates and voters to police elections, investigate irregularities, and conduct litigation to enforce proper and honest procedures, especially since candidates and voters are denied meaningful access to procedurs, equipment and records.
As you further know, because of the trade secret provisions in DRE contracts of sale, no one has yet been able to fully and properly investigate the handling of votes in DREs in actual elections where obvious irregularities have occurred.
USE OF DISABILITY ISSUE TO SUPPORT DREs
7. The HAVA requirement for a "private and independent vote" requires secrecy of the ballot choices. Neither HAVA nor common sense requires voters with disabilities who require assistance in every aspect of their lives to magically require no assistance once they enter a poll site. DRE voters with some disabilities will require assistance to insert the voter-access-card to activate the DRE and later remove it, to close and open privacy curtains, place the sip-and-puff tube in the voter's mouth, place the rocker paddles on the voter's lap or under their feet, etc.
8. PFAW uses accessibility as an argument against use of paper ballots and observable handling of votes, instead of thoughtfully evaluating what is possible now for the short-term and what is worth working for in the long-term.
9. Does PFAW acknowledge that both ballot markers and DREs can have the same accessible computer interface?
PFAW's position on voting technology and accessibility appears to be aggressively uninformed. You have refused to learn about the accessibility of ballot marking equipment, and the lack of accessibility of DREs.
I urge you to consider that PFAW might be wrong on this issue. I urge you to consider that many election integrity activists who oppose DREs are individuals with lifetime careers in computer technology, and we know the limits and vulnerabilities of the technology.
I urge you to spend some time reading on the VotersUnite.org website, and subscribe to the Daily Voting News from VotersUnite.Over a short period of time as you see the news day by day, you can become independently informed.