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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Tricounty DFA: Wednesday "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Reminder, Voting Forum, Dean -- Five Point Program
Hello Everyone!

In This Update:

1. "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Next Wednesday
2. Voting Forum WIth Bo Lipari of New York Verified Voting
3. Write Letters To State Board
4. Dean Letter, Leno and Major Address At DNC Winter Meeting: Five Point Campaign

1. "Meetup"/DFA-Linkup Next Wednesday

Our December meeting will be held next Wednesday, December 7th at 7pm at the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe in downtown Glens Falls.

On the agenda for this month:
*We'll be reviewing a very successful year for DFA,
*Discussing last week's voting forum and what we can still do
*Next Year: Specifically the 2006 Congressional race and what we can do:
* Endorsement
* A Training Day
* A Field Program Based On Dean Campaign Tactics

To reach the Rockhill Bakehouse Cafe, from Northway Exit 18, travel east into Glens Falls. Past the Hannaford, bear right at the Stewart's store, go past the Post Office and the Hospital to the intersection with the light just before the five points downtown. The Cafe is on the left on the corner of Hudson Ave., Exchange Street and Elm Street, just before the five point intersection in downtown Glens Falls. From the East, go to Hudson Falls and at the circle downtown, go down the Hudson Falls hill just past the Catholic Church. Proceed straight past the trash plant and Glens Falls Cement works to Warren Street, go to downtown Glens Falls. At the five point intersection, go past Domino's Pizza onto Hudson Ave. The cafe is just past the interesection on the right.

2. Voting Forum WIth Bo Lipari of New York Verified Voting

Last Wednesday we hosted Bo Lipari, the Executive Director of New York Verified Voting ( http://www/ ) for a special forum on the decision New York State and local counties will have to make on the purchase of new voting machines to replace our existing lever action machines, which will no longer be usable in the future because they are not adequately handicapped accessible.

Lipari spoke for an hour and then answered questions for almost another hour. He made a powerful case that new fully computerized voting machines are not only extremely expensive budget busters for local communities, but are extremely unreliable and trouble prone. For instance, there are currently attempts to push ahead with certification of certain touchscreen machines, but at present the vendors have not been able to produce a touchscreen or DRE machine that actually meets legal standards, including a working voter verifiable print out. It is, in effect, an experimental technology at the present time.

Vendors are pushing touchscreen machines because their profit margins are far higher. These machines can cost as much as a small car, believe it or not. When we consider how many election districts there are in any given county and the number of machines involved, the expense is into the millions. (And it is all OUR money.) According to Lipari, actual costs always exceed projected costs. In terms of purchse costs alone, DRE's usually cost at least twice what a optical scanner costs,

Touchscreen machines are already being abandoned.

*In 2004 the Republic of Ireland bought $60,000,000 worth of touchscreen voting machines from a Dutch company that is marketing machines here under the Liberty brand. The machines were then junked after a government commission concluded they were unreliable. It is now costing the Irish government $800,000 a month just to warehouse the scrapped machines while it decides what to do.

*In Miami-Dade County, Florida in March 2005 a coding error caused DRE's to lose hundreds of votes. A major scandal ensued. The Supervisor of Elections was forced to resign. After study, the new Supervisor of Elections concluded the machines were too unreliable and recommended that Miami-Dade scrap $24.5 million in new touchscreen machines.

*In 2004 security experts hired by the State Of Maryland tested Maryland's touchscreen machines to see if they could be "hacked" into, that is, penetrated by malicious computer programmers. They succeeded in hacking the machines. The security firm rated the Diebold machines with an "F" for security. They cited a gauntlet of problems: a security hole allowed remote dial-in. They were also found to be vulnerable to a "man-in-the-middle" attack, where someone could intercept a message between touchscreen voting machines and central tabulating computers, replacing the real results with a bogus one. Maryland is also abandoning a touchscreen purchase.

There is a clear alternative: paper ballots, optically scanned. Most of us are familier with this technology; it's the very same technology you use when you buy a lottery ticket. You fill in a bubble to record your vote. If you choice isn't clear or there is something wrong, the scanner will reject the ballot, just the way it would reject a lotto ticket with seven bubbles filled in instead of six. That means you can't vote twice for the same candidates by accident. PB/OS is the most reliable and cheapest system, both in the near and the short term. Touchscreen machines require an operating cartridge that can only be programmed by the vendor, at a typical cost of $500 per cartridge! Maintenance costs are also very high, as are storage costs. Scanners are compact and can be stacked for storage, bulky DRE's cannot.

Paper Ballot/Optically scanned system are also cheaper than touchscreen machines because only one scanner is required per polling place -- with touchscreens at least one and oftentimes two or more machines are required per precinct.

46% of all US counties use scanners counting 35% of all US votes. Scanned ballots systems are also friendly to the disabled, and further, they are easier for precinct Election Inspectors to learn how to use. Touchscreen machines are very complicated, require a computer orientation by inspectors, which means much more training (an further cost). One implicit strike against DRE's is that most of our present Elections Inspectors, most of whom are senior citizens, would not transition to the new machines. It is often extremely difficult for local Boards of Elections to find people to fill these slots at all under present circumstances --

Optically scanned systems have the lowest rate of errors, and the paper ballots used are easy to recount manually, if the need arises, such as a recount. Oklahoma has been using optically scanned paper ballots for 14 years without any problems at all.

There are many more details of Lipari's presentation that I could recount, but these highlights will give a sense of the case for Paper Ballot/Optically scanned systems and against touchscreen DRE's.

3. Write Letters To State Board

What can we do? First, we can write letters to the State Board of Elections. The companies that make these machines make both scanners and DRE's . Write to the State Board of Elections and demand they insist the companies submit both scanners and touchscreen machines for certification. For the details go to:

Later we can follow up with letters to our local boards.

Here are some additional links with info on the growing problems with touchscreen voting machines. Diebold, the biggest manufacturer was asked by the State of North Carolina to place the computer code that operates the machines into escrow in case there were questions about the code. This would protect their intellectual property rights while maintaining a deterrence against fraud. Diebold refused, which startled many observers. What's the problem? They are now threatening to leave North Carolina.


4. Dean Letter, Leno and Major Address At DNC Winter Meeting: Five Point Campaign

Governor Dean gave a major address to the Democratic National Committee at it's winter meeting in Arizona this weekend.

The Governor laid out a Five Point Plan as a common agenda for Democrats to rally behind and I quote:

"This is going to be the same platform in Alabama and Arizona as it is in Northern California and the Midwest," Dean told the Tribune on Friday. "We are going to run the same campaign everywhere in America, and that’s how we are going to win."

"You can’t trust them with your money," Dean said. "You can’t trust them to tell the truth. You can’t trust them to manage the war. You can’t trust them if you have a natural disaster. Now tell me why people are going to vote for Republicans?"

The Five Points

• Honesty and integrity in government
• New Iraq policy to reduce the military’s role and its vulnerability to attack
• Limit outsourcing of American jobs and create new ones through energy independence
• Moving toward universal health care
• Improving public education"

For a fuller account of the Five Point Plan:

Governor Dean also sent out an earlier letter detailing how Democrats will win in 2006.
He also made a great appearance on the Leno Show.

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