*for committee meeting on Tuesday April 24 at 1:30PMFROM: Coloradoans for Voting Integrity (CFVI); The Public Integrity Project, BTC
RE: SB07-083: On Conduct of Elections (Tupa, Weissman)
Please consider changing the following three provisions of the 2nd Engrossed version (March 30) of SB07-083 which contradict the public interest of verifiability and transparency of elections:
1. ELIMINATION OF THE AUTOMATIC RECOUNT
Replacing the now-required automatic recount in close elections, this provision allows the losing candidate to waive the recount.
Rationale for opposition: Recounts should not be politicized and this provision would cause political pressure to be a major factor of whether recounts would occur. The outcome of an election has consequences for the entire electorate, not just the losing candidate, who may be subjected to intimidation or improper inducements to waive the recount. The recount is required to maintain high standards of accuracy, not to satisfy the loser.
Recommended: Remove the item. Delete lines 10-27 on page 27 of the 2nd engrossed bill.
2. TERMINATION OF POLLING-PLACE POSTING OF RESULTS
This is a provision to abandon the practice of posting polling results at the polling place immediately after election officials have signed off on them on election night, for 48 hours, and leaving the time of publication unspecified.
Rationale for opposition: Posted results are a major tool for public transparency of elections and timely onsite records provide the best accuracy check. Public records enhance the trust of an electorate that is presently suspicious of the election process. Existing practice is essential as it increases the chances that an accurate record exists of polling place results. Posted results can raise red flags immediately about problems at particular polling locations, if results differ from those of other polling places where similar results are expected.
Recommended: Remove the item. Delete lines 26-27 on page 25 and lines 1-16 on page 26 of the 2nd engrossed bill.
3. BALLOT ISSUES ON THE VOTER-VERIFIABLE PAPER RECORD KNOWN ONLY BY NUMBER OR LETTER
This is a provision to identify ballot issues or questions only by “THE NUMBER OR LETTER” on the voter-verifiable paper audit trail.
Rationale for opposition: Makes voter verification difficult. It will substantially impair the ability of voters whose ballots are created electronically to be able to verify that their votes were recorded correctly.
Recommended: The statutory requirement should be improved to require, at minimum, the short description of an item known as “the submission clause”, or, where possible, the full text.
(On page 4, line 15 of 2nd Engrossed bill, replace “THE NUMBER OR LETTER” with “THE SUBMISSION CLAUSE AND OR FULL TEXT”.)
--SB083 elections statute alert April 22, 2007 version 4 page 1--
Please add to SB083:
4. REQUIRE LOCAL BACKUP OF THE COMPUTERIZED REGISTRATION BOOK USED AT A
Rationale for inclusion: An amendment to remove the non computerized registration books from this bill recently passed in the Senate, but the local backup of the vote center registration data is of paramount importance to prevent spectacular election failures.
Recommended: (on page 18 line 5 substitute for “EQUIPMENT” “EQUIPMENT WITH NON-COMPUTERIZED REGISTRATION BOOKS OR REGISTRATION DATA LOCALLY STORED AT THE POLLING PLACE TO BE USED IN CASE OF A SYSTEM FAILURE”
Please also support the following existing text in SB083:
5. DEFINING THE CASTING OF A BALLOT FOR ACCESSIBLE VOTING SYSTEMS
Rationale for support: The Secretary of State’s office has denied certification to ballot marking devices on the grounds that some disabled voters would have to depend on help to cast their ballot after it was printed by the electronic device. Currently, SB083 defines “the final step of casting a ballot” as “causing a ballot to be placed into any device that protects the privacy and integrity of the elector’s choice”. Transporting the ballot in a secrecy sleeve across the room to an optical scanner or ballot box is what this discussion is about.
Blind engineer and computer expert Noel Runyon asserts that there are ballot marking devices that meet essential requirements for a secret ballot for the disabled, and that the assistance required of some disabled to cast the ballot when using a ballot marking device is no more compromising of a person’s privacy than the help required by some to insert the card permitting them to vote into a machine. He also asserts that the several direct record electronic voting machines (DRE’s which were certified by the Secretary of State) serve the disabled less well than a ballot marking device, as none of them allow the blind to verify their vote.
Recommended: Keep the amendment in the bill so that ballot marking devices can be certified.
(Keep page 19 lines 9-23 of the 2nd engrossed version of the bill.)
Notes: Regarding posting, we also recommend putting up a sign near the posted election results, which cites the requirement that they remain posted for 48 hours, in both English and other languages commonly spoken in the county. In addition, the Secretary of State should require that the results be posted in a relatively protected manner.
Many Colorado voters still vote on machines which do not allow them to verify their votes; many verifiable ballots go unverified; most races are never audited; and the audit as currently implemented is relatively unlikely to catch errors. This unfortunately impairs transparency and accountability in our elections, making it particularly important that we preserve the information that election-night polling-place postings provide. The posted abstract of votes should include totals of undervotes and overvotes to permit full cross checking of vote tallies.
We have identified many serious problems with existing statutes and practice which have not been addressed: method of audit, recount and testing, use of barcodes, lack of access to paper ballots at the polls, insufficient oversight and many other problems.
We are looking for legislators to carry future legislation on these topics.
Please contact us at margitjo [at] gmail.com.
--SB083 elections statute alert April 22, 2007 version 4 detail page 2--