41 minutes ago
Friday, January 20, 2006
Voting machines and ID's
"I don't think there are any electronic machines that are foolproof, I've heard horror stories that palm pilots can be used to hack into the machines." - Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepnak
The way things are going the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 might turn into the Hardly Anyone Votes Act of 2006.
WILKES-BARRE - The Luzerne County commissioners delayed a decision Tuesday on the selection of a new electronic voting machine, opening the possibility that voters could use the old lever machines in the primary election. Commissioners Todd Vonderheid, Greg Skrepenak and Stephen Urban recessed a board of elections meeting until they learned from the Pennsylvania Department of State if the May 16 primary election is considered a federal election. Vonderheid and Urban said they are dissatisfied with the limited number of manufacturers whose machines have been certified by the Pennsylvania Department of State and by the Federal Election Commission. "The menu is more limited than what we would like," Vonderheid said.
"There is no reason to rush into this, into this mine field," said Robert Caruso, a member of the electronic voting machine committee who voted against the Danaher machine. Caruso said a lawsuit before the state Commonwealth Court filed by concerned residents against Westmoreland County has statewide implications. Caruso said Westmoreland County violated the state constitution when commissioners there decided to purchase nearly 750 electronic machine without first having a referendum on the purchase. "Commonwealth Court will be making a decision for all 67 counties," Caruso said. "There is no reason to rush into this. They (Luzerne County) did the right thing today."
This rush to fix a problem in areas of the country where none exist is going to have some very bad results. Last year, the state decertified UniLect voting machines used in Beaver County after the machines undercounted the 2004 presidential vote. There is also another lawsuit that alleges the state has not performed adequate security testing of these machines.
HARRISBURG - Critics of electronic voting machines have sued Secretary of State Pedro Cortes seeking to block county purchase of the new machines by the May primary and a redo of machine certification. The Coalition for Voting Integrity, a statewide group with origins in Bucks County, says Cortes, as head of the Pennsylvania Department of State, has not applied uniform standards in certifying nearly two dozen new electronic machines. The group argues its constitutional voting rights are being violated because the department has not adequately checked the new machines for their reliability and security. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Commonwealth Court, points to the department's denial in certification of one of Diebold's AccuVote optical-scan machines, in part, because it didn't pass a hacking test done by a Finnish security expert in June 2005. The department did not consider or perform hacking tests on other voting machines before certifying them, the lawsuit contends.
"I don't need a (party) committeeman anymore," said the coalition's attorney, Lawrence Otter. "I'll just have a high school computer geek hanging outside the polling place and fixing votes as I see fit."
Another law is making it harder to register to vote. You now have to provide your drivers license or Social Security number and if you provide one when you should have provided the other your registration may not be processed or you could be charged with perjury! Taken together these changes will discourage people from voting.
Note: After I wrote this I found a very good analysis of this question over at Lou's List.