Author Archives: melissaslemin

Dan Rather Reports: Touchscreen Voting Machines

The latest episode of ‘Dan Rather Reports’ on the HDNet network submits an investigative report on the ES&S touchscreen voting machines that caused so many problems in Florida in 2006.
It appears to be very well researched and reported. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon is interviewed as the expert on the topic. The main theme is that the machines are made by companies who try to cut costs wherever possible and the machine’s accountability is severely compromised. They are simply too cheap. “The touchscreens on jet fighters don’t fail. The touchscreens on voting machines fail.” Former Sequoia employees are also interviewed regarding the problems involving punchcards in Florida.

Election Reform to Be Delayed

An article in the New York Times reports that overhauling voting systems will be delayed until 2012. The general sense is that there just isn’t enough time to implement the necessary changes in time for the primaries of 2008. The House plans for a compromise however: to add tiny cash-register-style printers to those touch-screen machines that don’t have a paper trail for ’08 and ’10 elections, thus giving manufacturers time to develop suitable technology for the 2012 elections season. Read the article for further details.

Pacific NW Elections Conference: Part 6

The Conference was some time ago, but I wanted to share my views on one of the breakout sessions I attended, titled “Can Voter Centers Work for You?” Scott Doyle, Clerk and Recorder for Larimer County, Colorado presented how well Vote Centers worked for his county in the last few elections. While the presentation was very informative and well presented, Mr. Doyle omitted a very important detail regarding implementation issues, namely that this system is not necessarily a ‘one size fits all’ solution for all jurisdictions or all elections. As a previous post indicated–and Mr. Doyle only vaguely alluded to–Vote Centers did not work well for Denver in the November 2006 election–the size of the electorate is just too big for this type of system to work as well as is it does in a smaller region such as Larimer County.

Since this conference appeared to me to be, among other things, a problem solving resource for election officials, I think it is a most critical detail to have shared with the very full room of folks who came from varying sizes of jurisdictions. He may have sold us on the positive aspects, but the shortcomings are just as important, if not more, and should have been discussed. It appears to me that further study of the system is in order.

Call for Recommendations: IEEE rep to TGDC and SCC 38

The IEEE is asking for recommendations for the IEEE representative to the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) and for the new SCC38 Chair. You must be an IEEE member to submit a recommendation form for these positions. To be a member of the SCC38, you must request membership in writing.
The deadline to remit recommendations is Friday June 8, 5pm EST. All forms should be emailed toBill Ash at

The appointment of the IEEE representative will ultimately be made by the President of the IEEE Standards Association, George Arnold.
The appointment of the SCC38 Chair will be made by the IEEE Standards Board, Steve Mills.

Recommendations for TGDC
TGDC Recommendations Form
Recommendations for SCC38
SCC38 Recommendations form

Election Fraud in Texas

Four men and women were indicted last week in Brooks County, TX on charges of voter fraud, which allegedly involved registering voters to uninhabited vacant lots and some voters voting more than once. The Monitor reported the story.
This is a timely story–a voter ID bill has recently been debated in Texas, as its proponents believe it would guard against voter fraud. The measure was blocked (read news article here) in the Senate on May 24–even a post-operative Senator Mario Gallegos was present in a hospital bed to help block the bill.

Event: DemocracyFest

The 4th Annual DemocracyFest will be held June 9-10, 2007 at the Wayfarer Inn in Manchester, NH. This event is “an annual educational and inspirational festival for the progressive grassroots.”
Speakers include Senator John Edwards, NH Asst Sec of State Anthony Stevens, NH Sec of State Gardner, Howard Dean, Carlos and Melida Arredondo (People United for Peace), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

Upcoming Events of Election Organizations

It’s going to be a busy summer in the world of election studies! Here is a list of upcoming conferences and meetings, some of which VTP members will be attending.

May 21-22: Public Meeting: Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, held by EAC/TGDC
June 17-22: USENIX Annual Technical Conference, Santa Clara, CA
June 26-29: Pacific Northwest Elections Conference, Portland, OR
July 15-18: NASS Summer Conference, Portland, OR
July 29-Aug 3: Frontiers of Electronic Voting, Wadern, Germany
Aug 10-12: NASED Summer Meeting, with Election Center, New Orleans, LA

National Academies of Engineering 2007 National Meeting Symposium on Electronic Voting

Michael Alvarez has been invited make a presentation on electronic voting at a National Academies of Engineering Symposium on February 8 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies in Irvine, CA. The event is part of the NAE national meeting and is titled “The Impact of Technology of Voting and Elections in the 21st Century.” Michael will present at 3 pm, “Bridging S&T and Politics in E-Voting.”
Visit the event webpage for the full schedule.