Honorable Eliot Spitzer
Governor of New York
Albany NY 12224
Re new voting machines
Dear Governor Spitzer:
I urge you to actively work for a statewide system of paper ballots and precinct-based optical scanners (called PBOS) for New York State when we have to replace our tried-and-true mechanical voting machines.
International standards for election legitimacy are all based on observation.
But with computerized voting machines, called DREs, voters cannot observe their own legal ballot inside the electronic circuits. The paper trail is not used for initial tallies, and is only 3% spot-checked. This means 97% of the tallies will be based on invisible electronic ballots which voter can never see.
With computerized voting machines, DREs, election observers are completely shut out. No one can observe, understand, or attest to the proper storage, handling, or counting of ballots and votes.
Elections should be as simple and low-tech as possible. With paper ballots, the only part of the procedure that is concealed is counting, but the tallies can be confirmed by recounting the voter-marked first-hand paper ballots, either by hand or by another optical scanner. If we have the political will for honest elections, we can have it with PBOS.
I am concerned about "ethnic profiling" in how DREs handle votes cast in non-English languages. Once a voter selects non-English language in a DRE, they have identified themselves as a member of a minority and we have already seen that DREs can handle non-English ballots separately, which enables these ballots to be "lost" or have their votes switched or blanked out.
Minority votes were "lost" in the New Mexico November 2004 election where ballots were cast in English, Spanish and Navaho: www.votersunite.org/info/NM_UVbyMachineandEthnicity.pdf Moreover, Sequoia DREs have been shown to handle votes cast in Spanish differently from votes cast in English: www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,64569,00.html
Please lead our state toward low-tech, securable, understandable, observable PBOS.