February 10, 2005
Honorable George E. Pataki
Governor of New York
Albany, New York 12224
RE: Voting technology for New York State
Dear Governor Pataki:
I want New York State to keep our old lever voting machines. If that cannot be done, we should require paper ballots marked by hand. Paper ballots can be counted by hand or by optical scanner machines. Blind voters can mark paper ballots by using ballot templates, which are inexpensive and work well in Rhode Island and in other countries. Or, voters who are blind or have other disabilities can use a ballot-marking machine such as the Automark.
I don't want to cast my vote on a computer. And I am concerned with the votes of all voters being subverted by computers. Regardless whether computer mistakes are due to innocent errors or malicious hackers, no one can observe what is going on inside the computer, and that opens the door to undetectable errors and fraud.
The idea of voter-verified paper ballots is fine if they are used for a 100% audit of every computerized election with 100% accuracy required. To my knowledge no Board of Elections has the staff, expertise, or resources to perform a computer audits with reconciliation of all discrepancies. 2% or 3% surprise random recounts of voter-verified paper ballots are not enough. Banks and other companies do complete audits of their computer systems because that is the only way to guarantee accuracy--and Boards of Election need to do the same.
Everyone understands how to safeguard lever machines and paper ballots, and handle them securely.
Optical scanners are computers, and I want to see these protections for them, to prevent any secrets or back doors in how our elections are run:
1. All software and other programming used in any computerized election equipment, as
well as all certification reports from Independent Testing Authorities, must be posted
on our state Board of Elections website for public inspection.
2. Ban wireless communication devices in all computerized election equipment.
3. Require manual recounts of a percentage of the ballots counted by each optical scanner