Greens: Computer Voting Systems Must Ensure Democracy & Accuracy

Connecticut Green Party Press Release

For immediate release: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Contacts:
Tom Sevigny, Co-chair, (860) 693-8344
Mike DeRosa, Co-chair, (860) 956-8170 or (860) 919-4042
Justine McCabe, Co-chair, (860) 354-1822
Michael Burns, Vernon, CT (860) 871-7459
Penny Teal, Mystic, CT (860) 536-4980

 

Greens: Computer Voting Systems Must Ensure Democracy And Accuracy, Not  Manipulate Elections

Computerized voting presents a choice between a repeat of the 2000 Florida debacle, in which thousands of African American and Latino votes were obstructed, and technologies that increase voter access, accuracy, and public accountability.

HARTFORD, CT. -- Greens warn that computerized voting programs and files, if implemented without public scrutiny and audit ability, may allow greater vote fraud, engineered miscounts, and disqualification of legitimate votes in elections across the country. Instead, many Greens urge technology that promotes democratic access and accuracy in voting and the maintenance of voter rolls, noting that touch-screens (Direct Recording Electronic voting) assist people with impaired vision and other disabilities and those not fluent in English.

Touch-screens, for instance, can eliminate voided ballots that now happen when citizens accidentally over-vote in a race. Touchscreens also facilitate ballot counting in Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting, which the Green Party strongly supports.

Some Greens have called for scanable ballots, enabling quick counts through something like a touch-screen while preserving a paper record of votes, and for placing election software in the public domain. "The three companies that produce 90% of the voting machines used in the U.S. (E. S. & S; Diebolt, and Sequoia) claim that their machines produce paper records. This is not true," said Mike DeRosa, co-chair Green Party of Connecticut. "What they do is produce a paper summary record at the end of the election night. People put their vote into a black box and the black box gives them the winners at the end of the day. This is simply unacceptable in the real world of computers. Just about anybody with computer programming skills can make trap doors, back doors, and can create ways to commit election fraud by building fraud into the program."

Congress' "Help America Vote Act," requiring states (despite significant cost) to implement computerized voter files by the 2004 election, presents a choice between technologies that increase democratic accountability and those that allow state authorities to manipulate elections. In the latter, fraud will be difficult to detect, since bias could easily be built into computer programs that would only be accessible to state authorities.

"Voting is the foundation of our democracy. All efforts to ensure a fair voting system and to enable as many people as possible to vote should be the top priority of any government that claims it is a democracy," said Tom Sevigny, co-chair of the Green Party of Connecticut.

"Before the 2000 election, the Florida Secretary of State's office ordered a purge of 94,000 voters, supposedly convicted felons, though most were not guilty of any crime," said Michael Burns of the Green Party in Vernon. "This is deeply disturbing and a profound assault on democracy that we should all be very worried about seeing in other states in the future."

Greens insist that, in order for elections to be fair, every step must be subject to public scrutiny, and state laws must promote, not restrict, the right of people to vote. Yet with a paperless version of touch-screen voting, the potential abuse can go beyond restricting voters, straight to fraud. "Most Americans would be suspicious of a credit card statement if it came with only an 'amount due' written on it," said Penny Teal, Green Party member in Mystic. "Until they saw the itemized charges, as verification, they would probably not pay. And yet here we are, being asked to trust voting machines that give us nothing but a final number, no verification of anything anywhere. As if our democracy, our right to choose our own President and other representatives, were less important to us than being overcharged for a gallon of milk!"

FOR MORE INFORMATION
http://ctgreenparty.org/press-releases.html

Connecticut Green Party
P.O. Box 231214, Hartford, CT 06123
(860) 524-9448 - www.ctgreenparty.org
Green Party of the United States www.gp.org

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