Editorials: Bill Gardner: The Ballot Steward | The Boston Globe

IN 2003, a University of New Hampshire poll asked respondents if they thought their vote was counted accurately. Compared to other states, New Hampshire polled exceptionally high. Elections are complex; there is no simple formula for capturing integrity in balloting rules. But if the recipe for the Granite State’s success were boiled down to two words, they would be “Bill Gardner.”

For someone who has held elected office for 35 years, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State is remarkably uninterested in publicity. A Democrat, he was first elected in 1976 when the state House handed him a surprise victory over an old-guard Republican. Every two years since, however, legislatures led by both Republicans and Democrats have found at least one thing they agree on: Gardner’s unparalleled stewardship of the office.

So when Gardner voiced concerns about a voter identification law moving through the New Hampshire legislature, both sides of the aisle took note. Governor Lynch vetoed the bill, but with 27 states now requiring voters to show ID at the polls, this is an issue whose time has come. On its face, voter ID adds a level of integrity to the system. If ID is required to board a plane or cash a check, why not to verify one’s status on election day?

Connecticut: Audit Report: Flawed by lack of transparency, incomplete data, and assumed accuracy | CTVotersCount.org

Last week, the University of Connecticut released its official post-election audit report on the November 2010 election, just short of seven months after the election: Statistical Analysis of the Post-Election Audit Data, 2010 November Election <read>

Like previous reports, this official report fails to provide confidence in the post-election audit process and in the accuracy of the election itself.

Oklahoma: New voting machines are coming, but Oklahoma voters may not notice a difference | Tulsa World

Oklahoma voters will have to learn how to fill in boxes instead of connect lines for the 2012 elections. Otherwise, said state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, most won’t notice much difference from other elections over the past two decades.

There will be a difference, though, and a big one. The state will soon begin taking delivery on a new voting system to replace the OPTECH-III Eagle optical scanner machines in use since 1992. Ziriax expects the system to be fully tested and installed in time for the February 2012 school board elections.

“It’s my belief that most people won’t notice a difference,” said Ziriax. “Voters will still be marking their ballots by hand and they’ll still be putting them into a scanner. “The main difference will be that instead of connecting two ends of an arrow, there will be a box to fill in. And the ballots will be a little lighter weight stock.”

Connecticut: Secretary of State Merrill announces awarding of nearly $1.2 million grant for voting technology in CT | ConnecticutPlus.com

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced that Connecticut has successfully won a federal grant of $1,184,441 from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal body established as a result of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

The federal grant was attained through Secretary Merrill committing a state match of $62,000 and was awarded June 8th through federal HAVA funds available to states. The new funds can be used for a variety of functions used to enhance voting technology, such as maintaining or enhancing Connecticut’s optical scan voting machines, testing or investing in new voting systems for disabled voters, and making improvements to the state Centralized Voter Registration database.

New York: Kavanaugh bill in New York state assembly would make ballots easier to read and use | Civic Design

Add your comments to a posting on the web site for WNYC’s radio show, “It’s a Free Country,” that presents a proposed redesign for the New York ballot.
The Brennan Center for Justice worked with Design for Democracy and theUsability in Civic Life project to develop an updated best practice ballot design that takes into account the particularities of voting in New York state.

On the show, which aired on June 9, 2011, New York state assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh and Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice discuss how important design is to successful voting and elections. On the show, Larry runs through the proposed design improvements and why they’ll make a difference. There are images of a redesigned ballot on the site, as well, and the show invites your comments.

Philippines: Comelec may get new IT provider, other than Smartmatic, in next polls | Inquirer News

The postponement of next month’s Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao polls may have virtually quashed the dreams of the Smartmatic Philippines to be the exclusive automated election service provider in the Philippines.

“No more. They’ll have to compete [with other providers] in 2013,”

Commission on Elections chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters when asked if the poll body would still be contracting Smartmatic for future elections in the country.

Smartmatic and its partner, Total Information Management Inc., won the P7-billion contract for the May 2010 national and local elections. The consortium produced some 80,000 Precinct Count Optical Scan machines for the exercise.

Oklahoma: Vote-counting technology to change in Oklahoma | MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Paul Ziriax said Friday that voting in Oklahoma will be very different next year. Ziriax, secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, said vote-counting technology used across the state will be overhauled by February.

Oklahoma counties use a standardized device that requires the voter to use either a No. 2 pencil or a special pen.

“In the case of absentee ballots, since we can’t send a special pen to every single voter that gets an absentee ballot, that’s why we instruct them to use a No. 2 pencil,” he said.

National: New Research Result: Bubble Forms Not So Anonymous – Princeton researchers deanonymize optical scan ballots| Freedom to Tinker

by Will Clarkson Today, Joe Calandrino, Ed Felten and I are releasing a new result regarding the anonymity of fill-in-the-bubble forms. These forms, popular for their use with standardized tests, require respondents to select answer choices by filling in a corresponding bubble. Contradicting a widespread implicit assumption, we show that individuals create distinctive marks on these forms, allowing use of the marks as a biometric. Using a sample of 92 surveys, we show that an individual’s markings enable unique re-identification within the sample set more than half of the time. The potential impact of this work is as diverse as use of the forms themselves, ranging from cheating detection on standardized tests to identifying the individuals behind “anonymous” surveys or election ballots.

If you’ve taken a standardized test or voted in a recent election, you’ve likely used a bubble form. Filling in a bubble doesn’t provide much room for inadvertent variation. As a result, the marks on these forms superficially appear to be largely identical, and minor differences may look random and not replicable. Nevertheless, our work suggests that individuals may complete bubbles in a sufficiently distinctive and consistent manner to allow re-identification.