Letter to Congress Urging a No Vote on HR 811 -- T. Hommel

The following letter to Congress, written by New York voting activist Teresa Hommel, is offered here as an explanation of the problems in 811, and as a model for similar letters or talking points to use when contacting your Representatives about this bill.


Dear Representative,

I urge you to vote against HR 811, the "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007."
Many election integrity activists lobbied for this bill in earlier versions, but this bill contains too many bad provisions to justify passing it.

Do you support:

1. Votes on ballots not required to be counted?

2. Mandate that vendors' trade secret claims override citizens' right to know how elections are conducted?

3. Ballot definition files (which need to be examined by every candidate before each election during logic and accuracy testing) made impossible to obtain in a timely manner?

4. Barriers that would prevent anyone from detecting errors in versions of software?

5. Communications capability allowed in voting systems, and internet connections allowed in central tabulators?

6. Trivial, unenforceable "security" requirements?

7. Citizens, local jurisdictions, states unable to get full information about certification testing.

8. More taxpayers' money to develop voting system software, but no money to develop ways to use and secure publicly-understandable and observable voting methods such as using voter-marked paper ballots?

9. Increased duties and unlimited funds for the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC"), an agency that has failed in each of its mandated functions?

10. $1 billion for new equipment when no products meet 2005 federal standards?

11. Small audits triggered only by margin of victory, when fraud can make electronic voting systems produce any margin of victory?

12. Audits that need not be "surprise" so jurisdictions have time to adjust or lose records?

I hope you will read the legislative analysis of HR811:
http://www.wheresthepaper.org/HR811markupCmt.htm

Here are links detailing the EAC's past dysfunction:

a. GAO Report: All Levels of Government Need to Address E-Voting Challenges
http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07576thigh.pdf

b. EAC has failed its mission, Testimony of Ellen Theisen, March 13, 2007
http://www.votersunite.org/info/TestimonyTheisen03-13-07.asp

c. EAC: political, secretive, unresponsive to citizen concerns, protective of vendor and ITA interests.
http://www.votersunite.org/info/EACFailedMission.asp

d. EAC, past dysfunction:
http://www.wheresthepaper.org/HR811.html#EAC

HR811 requires touchscreen voting machines ("DREs") to produce a voter-verified paper trail, but most citizens knowledgeable about voting equipment now oppose DREs. We want real voter-marked paper ballots (whether counted by hand or optical scanner), and observation from election day until the election is certified.

Just when surveillance cameras could open our poll sites to continuous observation and prevent fraud, DREs have established a new barrier to citizen oversight. Citizens are shut out. No one can understand the procedures conducted inside DREs. No one can observe in a meaningful way sufficient to attest that procedures and counting were proper and honest. Voters can't even observe their own votes.

Courts today are playing the same role with DREs that courts of yesterday played with wooden ballot boxes that never were opened. Our courts are protecting the secret software and any other secrets inside, such as log files showing communications intrusions, alterations of tally files, and other evidence of fraud. This is the reason we sometimes hear "there's no evidence that DREs have ever been subject to fraud." Despite talk about outside hackers, DREs make insider control of election outcomes easier than ever--just point and click, and after changing the tallies, remember to "save" before you "exit."

HR811 is a mistake! We can do better!

Sincerely yours,

Teresa Hommel