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    History has taught us that all great nations decline at some point, and I can think of nothing that would help usher in America s descent than the loss of
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 24, 2006
      History has taught us that all great nations decline
      at some point, and I can think of nothing that would
      help usher in America's descent than the loss of voter
      confidence in the integrity of their vote. I am one of
      the 20%, who felt that the 2000 and 2004 elections did
      not reflect the intent of the voters, and I am
      somewhat heartened that the press is beginning to
      report on the issue:

      From this morning's NY Times:

      WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A growing number of state and
      local officials are getting cold feet about electronic
      voting technology, and many are making last-minute
      efforts to limit or reverse the rollout of new
      machines in the November elections.

      Less than two months before voters head to the polls,
      Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland this week
      became the most recent official to raise concerns
      publicly. Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said he lacked
      confidence in the state’s new $106 million electronic
      voting system and suggested a return to paper ballots.

      Dozens of states have adopted electronic voting
      technology to comply with federal legislation in 2002
      intended to phase out old-fashioned lever and
      punch-card machines after the “hanging chads”
      confusion of the 2000 presidential election.

      But some election officials and voting experts say
      they fear that the new technology may have only
      swapped old problems for newer, more complicated ones.
      Their concerns became more urgent after widespread
      problems with the new technology were reported this
      year in primaries in Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois,
      Maryland and elsewhere.

      This year, about one-third of all precincts nationwide
      are using the electronic voting technology for the
      first time, raising the chance of problems at the
      polls as workers struggle to adjust to the new system.

      “I think there is good reason for concern headed into
      the midterm elections,” said Richard F. Celeste, a
      Democrat and former Ohio governor who was co-chairman
      of a study of new machines for the National Research
      Council with Richard L. Thornburgh, a Republican and
      former governor of Pennsylvania.

      “You have to train the poll workers,” Mr. Celeste
      said, “especially since many of them are of a
      generation for whom this technology is a particular
      challenge. You need to have plans in place to relocate
      voters to another precinct if machines don’t work, and
      I just don’t know whether these steps have been

      Paperless touch-screen machines have been the biggest
      source of consternation, and with about 40 percent of
      registered voters nationally expected to cast their
      ballots on these machines in the midterm elections,
      many local officials fear that the lack of a paper
      trail will leave no way to verify votes in case of
      fraud or computer failure.

      As a result, states are scrambling to make last-minute
      fixes before the technology has its biggest test in
      November, when voter turnout will be higher than in
      the primaries, many races will be close and the threat
      of litigation will be ever-present.

      “We have the real chance of recounts in the coming
      elections, and if you have differences between the
      paper trail and the electronic record, which number
      prevails?” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at
      Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and the author of the
      Election Law blog, www.electionlawblog.org.

      Professor Hasen found that election challenges filed
      in court grew to 361 in 2004, up from 197 in 2000.
      “What you have coming up is the intersection of new
      technology and an unclear legal regime,” he said.

      Like Mr. Ehrlich, other state officials have decided
      on a late-hour change of course. In January, Gov. Bill
      Richardson of New Mexico decided to reverse plans to
      use the touch-screen machines, opting instead to
      return to paper ballots with optical scanners. Last
      month, the Connecticut secretary of state, Susan
      Bysiewicz, decided to do the same.

      “I didn’t want my state to continue being an
      embarrassment like Ohio and Florida every four years,”
      said Mr. Richardson, a Democrat, adding, “I also
      thought we needed to restore voter confidence, and
      that wasn’t going to happen with the touch-screen

      In Pennsylvania, a state senator introduced a bill
      last week that would require every precinct to provide
      voters with the option to use paper ballots, which
      would involve printing extra absentee ballots and
      having them on site. A similar measure is being
      considered on the federal level.

      In the last year or so, at least 27 states have
      adopted measures requiring a paper trail, which has
      often involved replacing paperless touch-screen
      machines with ones that have a printer attached.

      But even the systems backed up by paper have problems.
      In a study released this month, the nonpartisan
      Election Science Institute found that about 10 percent
      of the paper ballots sampled from the May primary in
      Cuyahoga County, Ohio, were uncountable because
      printers had jammed and poll workers had loaded the
      paper in backward.

      Lawsuits have been filed in Colorado, Arizona,
      California, Pennsylvania and Georgia seeking to
      prohibit the use of touch-screen machines.

      Deborah L. Markowitz, the Vermont secretary of state
      and the president of the National Association of
      Secretaries of State, said that while there might be
      some problems in November, she expected them to be
      limited and isolated.

      “The real story of the recent primary races was how
      few problems there were, considering how new this
      technology is,” said Ms. Markowitz, a Democrat. “The
      failures we did see, like in Maryland, Ohio and
      Missouri, were small and most often from poll workers
      not being prepared.”

      Many states have installed the machines in the past
      year because of a federal deadline. If states wanted
      to take advantage of federal incentives offered by the
      Help America Vote Act, they had to upgrade their
      voting machines by 2006.

      In the primary last week in Maryland, several counties
      reported machine-related problems, including computers
      that misidentified the party affiliations of voters,
      electronic voter registration lists that froze and
      voting-machine memory cards whose contents could not
      be electronically transmitted. In Montgomery County,
      election workers did not receive access cards to
      voting machines for the county’s 238 precincts on
      time, forcing as many as 12,000 voters to use
      provisional paper ballots until they ran out.

      “We had a bad experience in the primary that led to
      very long lines, which means people get discouraged
      and leave the polls without voting,” said Governor
      Ehrlich, who is in a tight re-election race and has
      been accused by his critics of trying to use the
      voting issue to motivate his base. “We have hot races
      coming up in November and turnout will be high, so we
      can expect lines to be two or three times longer. If
      even a couple of these machines break down, we could
      be in serious trouble.”

      Problems during primaries elsewhere have been equally

      In the Illinois primary in March, Cook County
      officials delayed the results of the county board
      elections for a week because of human and mechanical
      problems at hundreds of sites with new voting machines
      made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

      In the April primary in Tarrant County, Tex., machines
      made by Hart InterCivic counted some ballots as many
      as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were
      cast. The problem was attributed to programming
      errors, not hacking.

      In the past year, the Government Accountability
      Office, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York
      University and the Congressional Research Service have
      released reports raising concerns about the security
      of electronic machines.

      Advocates of the new technology dispute the

      “Many of these are exaggerated accusations by a
      handful of vocal activists,” said Mark Radke, director
      of marketing for Diebold Election Systems, one of the
      largest sellers of touch-screen machines. “But if you
      want to talk about fraud and tabulation error, the
      newer technology is far more accurate.”

      Mr. Radke cited a study from the California Institute
      of Technology that found that between the 2000
      election, when touch-screen machines were not used,
      and the 2004 election, when they were, there was a 40
      percent reduction in voter error in Maryland, making
      the vote there the most accurate in the country.

      “There is always the potential for human error,” Mr.
      Radke said, “but that is easily correctible.”

      But critics say bugs and hackers could corrupt the

      A Princeton University study released this month on
      one of Diebold’s machines — a model that Diebold says
      it no longer uses — found that hackers could easily
      tamper with electronic voting machines by installing a
      virus to disable the machines and change the vote

      Mr. Radke dismissed the concerns about hackers and
      bugs as most often based on unrealistic scenarios.

      “We don’t leave these machines sitting on a street
      corner,” he said. “But in one of these cases, they
      gave the hackers complete and unfettered access to the

      Warren Stewart, legislative director for VoteTrustUSA,
      an advocacy group that has criticized electronic
      voting, said that after poll workers are trained to
      use the machines in the days before an election, many
      counties send the machines home with the workers.
      “That seems like pretty unfettered access to me,” Mr.
      Stewart said.

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      --- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:

      > September 20, 2006
      > For Governors in G.O.P. Slots, a Liberal Turn
      > LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 — Here are the things that
      > Gov.
      > Arnold Schwarzenegger will be bragging about on the
      > campaign trail: an initiative to lower greenhouse
      > gases with the onus on big companies, a $1 increase
      > in
      > the state’s minimum wage and a program to open up
      > access to prescription drugs.
      > Mr. Schwarzenegger, who six months ago fashioned
      > himself a Republican reformer bent on hobbling
      > entrenched Democratic institutions, is not just
      > tolerating positions generally associated with
      > liberal
      > candidates. Rather, he is using them as the
      > centerpiece of his re-election campaign, marking the
      > first time in a generation that a Republican
      > governor
      > here has clung to the left during a re-election
      > fight.
      > The strategy is not unique to Mr. Schwarzenegger’s
      > campaign. Across the nation’s 36 races for governor,
      > Republican candidates in states heavy with moderate
      > or
      > Democratic voters are playing up their liberal
      > positions on issues including stem cell research,
      > abortion and the environment, while remaining true
      > to
      > their party’s platform on taxes and streamlining
      > government.
      > In Massachusetts, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who is
      > seeking to fill the seat that will be vacated by
      > Gov.
      > Mitt Romney, has openly split with Mr. Romney on
      > abortion rights and stem cell research; her views
      > are
      > shared by the Republican candidate for governor in
      > Illinois, Judy Baar Topinka, who also supports civil
      > unions for same-sex couples.
      > In Maryland, the Republican incumbent, Robert L.
      > Ehrlich Jr., is pushing for increasing state aid for
      > programs for the disabled and imposing tighter
      > restrictions on coal-fired plants; the Republican
      > governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, opposes the death
      > penalty. In Connecticut, Gov. M. Jodi Rell also
      > parts
      > ways with the Republican Party on civil unions and
      > financing for stem cell research.
      > Governing Republican and campaigning Democratic is
      > not
      > a new technique; George E. Pataki, the New York
      > governor, has made a career winning elections as a
      > Republican in a mostly Democratic state. But
      > political
      > experts say that the strategy is particularly
      > pervasive this year, as Republicans seek to distance
      > themselves from an unpopular president and to
      > respond
      > to what is widely recognized as polarization fatigue
      > among many voters.
      > “The conservative side of Republican party has been
      > so
      > dominant in recent years that we haven’t seen a lot
      > of
      > this phenomenon at work until this year,” said Bruce
      > E. Cain, the director of the Institute of
      > Governmental
      > Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
      > Now, Mr. Cain said, the easiest way for Republicans
      > to
      > “stay competitive is to take deviations from the
      > standard G.O.P. lines.”
      > In many ways, the strategy reflects the dynamics of
      > local contests, in which voters are willing to
      > overlook the party affiliation of a candidate if
      > they
      > believe he stands with them on one or two important
      > issues, or pushes through policies that are
      > inherently
      > nonpartisan and that will improve their daily lives.
      > “The ideology that binds Republican governors is
      > getting things done for their constituents,” said
      > Philip A. Musser, the executive director of the
      > Republican Governors Association. “From the broadest
      > perspective, voters in these races go into the booth
      > caring less if governor is pro life or pro choice
      > and
      > more about whether he is going to reduce their
      > property taxes or make their life easier at the
      > D.M.V.”
      > Unlike other campaign seasons, when a popular
      > president has been an asset to local politicians,
      > many
      > candidates this year are trying to distance
      > themselves
      > from President Bush, either by staking out ground in
      > contrast to him or, as is the case with Mr.
      > Schwarzenegger, treating the president like a
      > communicable disease.
      > Democratic candidates across the country have
      > responded by constantly reminding voters of their
      > opponents’ conservative leanings, wherever they
      > exist,
      > and trying to tie them as much as possible to the
      > White House.
      > In recent months, Mr. Schwarzenegger has gone out of
      > his way to point out where he differs with the
      > president — stem cell research and the role of large
      > companies in creating heat-trapping gases like
      > carbon
      > dioxide — and to openly criticize the White House
      > order to police the Mexican border with National
      > Guard
      > troops.
      > When Mr. Bush visited California last spring, the
      > governor made sure they were scarcely seen together.
      > On the legislative front, after a humiliating defeat
      > last year of his ballot initiatives designed to take
      > power from nurses and teachers, Mr. Schwarzenegger
      > leapt in the opposite direction this summer.
      > With the Legislature, he signed off on laws imposing
      > the country’s most stringent controls on
      > carbon-dioxide emissions, raising the minimum wage
      > $1
      > — after vetoing a similar measure twice before — and
      > helping low-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay for
      > prescriptions.
      > His campaign tour bus is painted green, along with
      > the
      > vaguely preservationist phrase “Protecting the
      > California Dream,” as his slogan.
      > His campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, suggested that
      > this was business as usual for Mr. Schwarzenegger,
      > who, he said, “doesn’t rule out ideas just because
      > they came from someone from another party.’’
      > “In every poll across the country what voters say
      > they
      > yearn for is politicians in both parties to stop
      > fighting,’’ Mr. Schmidt said, “The one person in the
      > country who is doing that is Governor
      > Schwarzenegger.”
      > The Democrat who wants to unseat the governor, Phil
      > Angelides, has spent the better part of the last few
      > months trying to remind voters that Mr.
      > Schwarzenegger
      > is a Republican through and through, who supported
      > the
      > war in Iraq, the president who ordered it and many
      > right-of-center policies.
      > “Two months of pretending to be a Democrat doesn’t
      > make him a Democrat,” said Amanda Crumley, the
      > communications director for the Angelides campaign,
      > with a certain amount of fury in her voice. “Just
      > like
      > he has done for the last three years, if he is
      > re-elected, which he won’t be, he will continue to
      > govern like the Bush Republican that he is.”
      > While Mr. Schwarzenegger’s behavior may seem like
      > pure
      > survival tactics in the deep woods of one of the
      > nation’s bluest states, other recent Republican
      > governors in California have sought to accentuate
      > their conservative leanings.
      > Pete Wilson, who was governor for most of the
      > 1990’s,
      > supported a ban barring state services for illegal
      > immigrants, capitalizing on anger over illegal
      > immigration to win re-election, and his predecessor,
      > George Deukmejian, won the ardor of suburban voters
      > by
      > presenting himself as tough as nails on crime.
      > Each state race has its own quirks and
      > circumstances,
      === message truncated ===
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