hand counted paper ballots

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Editorials: Count every vote and count them all by hand | Tim Canova/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Florida advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public hearing last week on voter disenfranchisement in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I was privileged to speak on the issues surrounding my two campaigns against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

First, voter disenfranchisement is a serious issue. Too many fellow citizens have been barred from voting for life because of non-violent felony convictions, even years after completing their sentences. The Florida legislature should implement Amendment 4, passed last year by nearly two-thirds of Florida voters, to restore voting rights to non-violent felons, without punishing them for unpaid bills or fines. We don’t need a poll tax to stop people from voting when they are struggling to provide for their families.

In my testimony to the commission, I also pointed out wider threats to the franchise of all voters. When voting in Florida, after filling out a paper ballot, we hand the ballot to an election official, who then feeds the ballot through an electronic scanning machine. Imagine if instead that election official were to tear up your ballot right in front of you on account of your race, religion, gender or party registration. Of course, we would all be demanding a criminal investigation and prosecution of that official for depriving us of our most fundamental right to vote and to have our vote counted.

Now suppose, instead, that official feeds your ballot through an electronic scanning machine that contains wireless cellular modems. Imagine further that the source code for the software has been altered through the wireless modems to count your vote for candidates you did not even vote for. And then, afterward, the election supervisor simply destroys your ballot and those of all voters.

According to election experts, such as Dr. David Bader, director of the Institute for Data Science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, that’s what may well have happened in both of our 2016 and 2018 elections against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Experts believe the source code was altered to cap our vote at the same low percentage, regardless of demographic group, an outcome that one leading expert in computational science said was “as unlikely as winning the lottery every day for a year.”

That’s why we filed a formal complaint challenging our election results in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the Democrats on the House Committee for Administration have simply ignored our complaint to cover for Wasserman Schultz. These Democrats demand that we trust the science of climate change, but apparently, they are happy to ignore computational science and basic mathematical laws and principles when considering election rigging complaints.

We have also called for a criminal investigation of the Broward Supervisor of Elections office for the illegal destruction of all the ballots cast in our 2016 primary against Wasserman Schultz. Brenda Snipes, then the Broward elections supervisor, admitted in sworn videotaped depositions to wrongfully destroying the ballots, and a Florida circuit court ruled that she thereby violated numerous state and federal criminal statutes, including some punishable as felonies by up to five years in prison for each violation.

That’s why so many citizens have been calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Snipes’ illegal ballot destruction and to investigate why Mike Satz, the long-time state attorney for Broward County, has failed to do his job by refusing to prosecute this open-and-shut case.

In recent weeks, federal authorities have reported their belief that Russians may have hacked into the election systems of two Florida counties in 2016. But the feds have refused to disclose their evidence, including which counties were hacked and why they believe no election results were altered. This highlights an unfortunate truth, that all electronic voting machines are inherently vulnerable.

Electronic voting machines are convenient. They spit out results in minutes. But there’s no longer much reason to blindly trust in those results. That’s why electronic voting machines have been banned across much of Europe.

The possible rigging of electronic voting machines and destruction of paper ballots, especially when done with impunity, is the ultimate form of voter disenfranchisement. We need a system of 100% hand-marked paper ballots that are counted by hand in public by the American people. It’s the only way to have an election system that is truly fair, transparent, and verifiable.

Full Article: Count every vote and count them all by hand | Tim Canova – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Full Article: Count every vote and count them all by hand | Tim Canova - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Editorials: I counted votes. Here’s what I learned | Joel Carmek/Jerusalem Post

After years of active interest in politics – particularly the mechanics of political systems in Israel and other countries – I decided to see for myself what an election looks like from behind the scenes. Instead of campaigning for my preferred party (with which I’m constantly disappointed), I applied to the Central Elections Committee to become a mazkir va’adat kalpi, the secretary of a local election committee, the person who hands you your envelope. It’s actually more complex than it sounds. Trusted with the oversight of the entire election process for one polling station, the secretary ensures that everything is set up correctly, that the voting is carried out according to the rules, and that votes are properly counted and reported to the regional committee as soon as possible. It was an exhausting, but exhilarating experience. Here are some of my main takeaways. 1. There were many opportunities to cheat the system. Although the careful selection process is designed to weed out people who applied for the job in order to take advantage of their position, and while rules are in place to guarantee the integrity of the elections, the system is still far from watertight. There were several opportunities for me, or others, to stuff the ballot box with hundreds of ptakim (voting slips) of our own choice, and the system still relies heavily on trust. For example, even setting aside a scenario whereby one of the people involved in the counting process had bribed everyone else in the room (there were five of us) to turn a blind eye to misconduct, I could easily have changed the results on the vote tally on my way to the regional headquarters where I reported my station’s results.

Full Article: I counted votes. Here’s what I learned - Opinion - Jerusalem Post.

Wisconsin: Cyber security expert proposes analog solution to election hacking | Lacrosse Tribune

A New York attorney and cyber security expert says it may be time for American elections to be tallied with hand-counted ballots. Alexander Urbelis, a computer hacker-turned-lawyer, says vulnerabilities in voting technologies, combined with the weaponization of personal data and rampant disinformation campaigns that underpinned the 2016 presidential election, have created “a really dangerous situation” for democracy. “We live in a state of disbelief,” Urbelis said. “Facts aren’t facts, and nothing is verifiable.” Meanwhile, Urbelis said vote tabulation equipment — such as the optical scanners widely used in Wisconsin — could be vulnerable to hacking at a local level or within the supply chain.

Full Article: Cyber security expert proposes analog solution to election hacking | Local | lacrossetribune.com.

Netherlands: Dutch will count all election ballots by hand to thwart hacking | AFP

Dutch authorities will count by hand all the votes cast in next month’s general elections, ditching “vulnerable” computer software to thwart any cyber hacking bid, a senior minister has said. “I cannot rule out that state actors may try to benefit from influencing political decisions and public opinion in the Netherlands,” interior minister Ronald Plasterk said in a letter to parliament on Wednesday. On 15 March, the Netherlands kicks off a year of crucial elections in Europe which will be closely watched amid the rise of far-right and populist parties on the continent. Dutch officials are already on alert for signs of possible cyber hacking following allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russia may have meddled in November’s US presidential polls to help secure Donald Trump’s victory.

Full Article: Dutch will count all election ballots by hand to thwart hacking | World news | The Guardian.

New Hampshire: State relies on a mix of new and old voting systems | Los Angeles Times

After Curtis Hines marked his paper ballot for Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, he brought it to the ballot box where his father, Patrick, cranked the handle to feed it in. “Ding!” The vote was counted. This was state-of-the-art technology – in 1892. But there’s no need for anything newer in this town of 198 people, the second smallest in New Hampshire. Its 127 registered voters are casting ballots in the same 12-by-16-inch wooden box that voters used in the Granite State’s first presidential primary 100 years ago. The controversy over so-called butterfly ballots in Florida during the disputed 2000 presidential election led to a major overhaul in voting equipment in many states, prompted by an infusion of federal dollars as part of the Help Americans Vote Act, or HAVA. Many of the new voting systems featured technology that officials thought would help restore confidence in elections at a critical point. New Hampshire, though, saw little need for wholesale change.

Full Article: New Hampshire relies on a mix of new and old voting systems - LA Times.

Virginia: Roanoke County to count primary ballots by hand | Roanoke Times

Roanoke County will count primary ballots by hand next month after state voting officials said current voting machines weren’t reliable. Botetourt and Roanoke counties are the only two localities in the Roanoke and New River valleys that use faulty WinVote voting machines and have a June 9 primary, leaving them scrambling to find a new way to count ballots before next month. Last month, the State Board of Elections determined local governments couldn’t use the machines any more after a report noted they were susceptible to security breaches and also malfunctioned because of old age.

Full Article: Roanoke County to count primary ballots by hand - Roanoke Times: News.

Poland: Votes in presidential elections to be hand-counted | Associated Press

Poland’s electoral authorities say that the votes in the May presidential election will be counted by hand and calculator because of a lack of a reliable electronic system. The decision by the State Electoral Commission follows a major computer malfunction that largely delayed the vote count in the local government elections last fall. The scandal led to the resignations of most of the commission members.

Massachusetts: Voting in Hudson vaults into the 21st century | The Boston Globe

With more than 12,000 registered voters, Hudson is by far the largest community in Massachusetts to count its results by hand each election night. That will soon change. The town’s capital plan for next fiscal year, approved by Town Meeting early this month, includes spending $56,000 to purchase eight electronic voting machines, one for each of Hudson’s seven precincts and one backup. For at least the last 15 years, town officials have mulled switching from hand-crank ballot boxes, which require a crew of vote counters each election night to tabulate the paper ballots. But they’ve been reluctant to switch from a system they know works to one they are not familiar with, according to Town Clerk Joan Wordell. “We’re going to miss it. Tradition, you know?” she said. “What I won’t miss is at 8 o’clock when everyone has to start counting and then people start asking, ‘What time do you think the results will be in?’ ”

Full Article: Voting in Hudson vaults into the 21st century - West - The Boston Globe.

Voting Blogs: Maine towns continue to count ballots by hand – State offer of free vote-counting equipment rejected by some | electionlineWeekly

When you think of Maine you think of lobsters and blueberries and quaint, picturesque towns. For years, ballot clerks in hundreds of these small towns have spent election night painstakingly hand-counting ballots. Depending on the size of the town and the size of the election, this process could last well into the morning hours. In early 2012, there were approximately 500 towns throughout Maine still hand-counting ballots. The Secretary of State’s Office, in an effort to speed up the process and get results to Augusta more quickly, offered the towns with more than 1,100 registered voters access to 225 vote tabulators (ES&S DS 200) free of charge under the state’s contract with the vendor. “We are providing 225 tabulators free of charge,” explained Julie Flynn, deputy secretary of state. “The majority of the municipalities with more than 1,100 registered voters accepted the tabulators.” Only Greenville, Litchfield and Winterport declined two offers from the state and continue to count their ballots by hand. 

Full Article: electionlineWeekly.

Maine: 3 Maine towns reject offer of ballot machines | Boston Herald

Three Maine towns will continue hand-counting ballots on election night after turning down a state offer of free machines to tabulate the results. Litchfield, Greenville and Winterport ultimately rejected the offer after being given one last chance to get in on the deal by Friday. The Secretary of State’s office last fall offered new state-leased tabulating machines to 67 municipalities with more than 1,500 voters that still counted ballots by hand. The offer aimed to get more accurate returns and ease the burden on ballot clerks who sometimes count ballots into the wee hours.

Full Article: 3 Maine towns reject offer of ballot machines | Boston Herald.

Maine: Litchfield says ‘no’ a second time to state-sponsored ballot counting machines | The Morning Sentinel

The town of Litchfield has rejected a second state offer of a machine to tabulate state and federal election ballots in favor of continuing to count votes by hand. Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn, left, and Secretary of State Matt Dunlap give a demonstration of one of the the new, state-leased DS 200 tabulators on Thursday in the Cross Building in Augusta. Litchfield recently rejected a second offer by the state for a machine to tabulate state and federal election ballots, in favor of continuing hand-counting. Litchfield’s rejection was signed Tuesday by Rayna Leibowitz, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, following an earlier vote. “When the ballot clerks were asked their opinions, nobody, nobody wanted the machines,” said Leibowitz, who serves as a ballot clerk when she’s not a candidate for office. “We just feel it’s too important a process to rely on the machines, and we’d miss out on the social opportunities here. It’s very much a team effort. We have some people doing it for years and years and years, and they absolutely love the process.” In contrast, officials in Belgrade are enthusiastically cheering the benefits of that town’s new tabulator, which saved nine hours of counting time in the last election.

Full Article: Litchfield says 'no' a second time to state-sponsored ballot counting machines | The Morning Sentinel, Waterville, ME.

Montana: Some small counties still tallying votes by hand | Missoulian

Pull back the curtain on the Montana secretary of state’s online election results, and you’ll find a small army of volunteers counting votes by hand. Yes, most of the state’s counties have technology do the work, and Missoula County has had help from machines since the 1970s, according to the elections administrator. But 12 of the smallest counties in Montana will count their ballots by hand on Tuesday night. “Imagine that,” said Meagher Clerk and Recorder Dayna Ogle. Meagher judges were counting by hand in 2008 during the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Jon Tester and Conrad Burns, and the central Montana county with a population of 1,800 was getting calls for results from national media. But the judges could only count so fast.

Full Article: Some small Montana counties still tallying votes by hand : Missoulian: News and Resources for Western Montana.

Vermont: State pushes vote tabulators in small Vermont towns | WCAX.COM

In more than half of Vermont’s cities and towns Tuesday’s Town Meeting Day ballots will be counted by hand. The state has the technology to change that, but many towns are not making the switch. Calais Town Clerk Donna Fitch is getting ready for Town Meeting Day, when ballots will be counted the same way they were when she was a little girl–by hand. “It’s nice to have all of us sit around and count the ballots and everybody takes it very seriously, but it does mean we are often up late,” she said. Fitch will work with a team of ten to count the votes in the town of 16-hundred. It’s the same way 142 of Vermont’s 246 cities and towns will tally their totals.

Full Article: State pushes vote tabulators in small towns - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-.

Voting Blogs: The GOP’s 2012 Iowa Caucuses: A National Model for Transparent Democracy | BradBlog

Before we move on to the nightmare of democracy and secret, concealed “trust-me” vote-counting which will comprise the bulk of the “First-in-the-Nation” primary in New Hampshire, I’d like to offer a few final thoughts, for now, and for the record, on last Tuesday’s “First-in-the-Nation” GOP Caucuses of Iowa. What happened there ought to remain firmly in all of our memories as we move into what is likely to be a nightmare of democracy and secret, concealed “trust-me” vote-counting across almost the entirety of the nation in this important Presidential Election year.

I had planned to post this article (or one like it) on Friday, when I was suddenly side-tracked by the report from Ron Paul supporter Edward True that he had noticed a mis-reported tally on the Iowa GOP’s caucus results website. It was a small mis-report to be sure, but in a race that had previously been “called” for Mitt Romney by just 8 votes out of some 122,000 cast at 1,774 different caucus sites, the 20 vote error noticed by True and called to the attention of the media (and since confirmed by the Appanoose County GOP Chair) could prove to be decisive in the final certified total promised a week or so from now.

Full Article: The BRAD BLOG : The GOP's 2012 Iowa Caucuses: A National Model for Transparent Democracy.