Re: AAPD attacking AutoMark

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sun Apr 24 2005 - 21:09:03 CDT


Just as a sociological comment, I believe that many people who became or were mature adults during the 1950's seem to have an almost mystical faith in machines in general and computers in particular. I have frequently heard members of that generation, "Well, it came out of the computer, it's got to be right." While this phenomena does seem to dissipate among the better educated and especially those who have worked in IT, there is still the general reflex towards assuming that computers are magic and have to be right.
Thanks, Edmund R. Kennedy

Always work for the common good.

10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510

I blog now and then at: <>
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Teresa Hommel
  To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list
  Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2005 6:31 PM
  Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] AAPD attacking AutoMark

  Note that Jim Dickson opposes everything except DREs, and has consistently put accessibility ahead of verifiability because he "trusts" computers.

  Note that different disabilities require different assistance, and that is why a wheelchair is not the same as a pair of glasses, a set of headphones, or a hearing aid.

  Teresa Hommel

  Arthur Keller wrote:

    This has implications for the OVC model architecture.

    Best regards,

      electionline Weekly - March 31, 2005

      I. In Focus This Week

      'Hybrid' voting machines raise questions about certification, accessibility
      By <> Elizabeth Schneider

      They were touted as the solution to the problem of paper and accessibility
      in voting. Manufacturers of "hybrid" voting machines, which look and act
      like touch-screen systems but use a high-tech interface to mark paper
      ballots, say their systems bring the flexibility of e-voting - multiple
      languages, font sizes, accessibility for voters with disabilities, reduced
      printing costs - with the ballot-by-ballot auditability of optical-scan

      It's a tempting choice for states seeking to balance the needs of those with
      disabilities with concerns over direct-recording electronic (DRE) systems,
      which do not allow an independent paper audit of individual ballots.

      In nine months - by January 1, 2006 - states must meet the voting-system
      accessibility mandates of the Help America Vote Act. If a state accepted
      punch-card and lever machine buyout money, it must replace systems
      statewide. All states must purchase at least one machine per polling
      accessible to people with disabilities.

      And that gives them little time to figure out the maze of voting system

      Given the current and complex system of voting machine certification, which
      uses standards that were last updated in 2002, election officials are still
      unsure how to meet the January 2006 deadline, and at the same time comply
      with standards that might not be on target with the yet-to-be released
      guidelines. (See last week's
      electionline Weekly for more.)

      The manufactures of the hybrid
      <> AutoMark system say
      their machines comply with the HAVA mandates. Some groups representing
      voters with disabilities disagree.

      In a <> letter
      addressed to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the American Association
      of People with Disabilities (AAPD) states several counties in Ohio plan to
      purchase an AutoMark system in order to comply with the new state law. By
      doing so, the AAPD argues, they would violate the law.

      "The AutoMark is not accessible for those disabled Buckeyes who cannot
      handle paper... purchasing the AutoMark not only violates the Help America
      Vote Act, it is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
      Rehabilitation Act," states the AAPD letter.

      The AutoMark is outfitted with a sip/puff tube for voters who are unable to
      use a touch screen or touch pad and an audio function for voters with
      impaired vision. The <> Populex machine, a similar
      hybrid, also allows touch controls and other "enhanced navigation" for
      people with disabilities.

      Jim Dickson, vice president of government affairs for the AAPD, argues that
      people who are unable to use their hands will lose their right to a secret
      ballot with the AutoMark machine because, "a voter who casts a ballot on the
      system would be required to carry the marked ballot and then insert it into
      a vote tabulator."

      "HAVA outlines that the voting process is to be independent," says Dickson.
      "And the simple problem [with AutoMark] is the loss of independence and

      According to several groups supporting the voting rights of the disabled
      community, including the American Council of the Blind, the use of
      direct-recording electronic machines, already certified by the federal
      government and in use in many states, has proven to be the most accessible
      voting system. DREs can also be outfitted with a printer to produce a
      voter-verifiable paper record.

      According to the National Institute for of Standards and Technology (NIST),
      HAVA allocates $850 million to the states over three years to purchase
      accessible voting equipment, footing about 95 percent of the total cost.

      The AutoMark has also drawn fire from the United Spinal Association.

      "This system is accessible, but not to all," the group wrote in a
      <> letter opposing
      the use of the machines.

      According to Ellen Bogard, a spokesperson for ES&S, the voting machine
      company which markets the system, the AutoMark ensures the privacy of every
      voter. A voter would be able to use a secrecy sleeve which would protect the
      ballot from view, and for those who require assistance handling the ballot
      ES&S can "prepare ballots without any candidate names, initiatives or other
      ballot measures printed on the document."

      But the cost of the machines could discourage some localities, even if they
      want the hybrid technology. Ohio, for example, has increased its voter rolls
      by nearly one million people in the past two years. "The $106 million the
      state received for new voting technology will not be enough to reach the
      states original goal of supplying one accessible machine per 200 registered
      voters," said Carlo LaParo, a spokesperson for Blackwell. "The AutoMark is
      currently outside of our budget."

      According to the AAPD, the cost of the AutoMark is at least 30 percent
      higher than accessible touch screens. Elaine Gravely, Montana's deputy
      secretary of state for elections, told a local newspaper that the machines
      cost around $5,000.

      In contrast, Maryland reports the state paid just over $2,800 per
      touch-screen DREs manufactured by Diebold.
      To update the standards, NIST was given the authority, under HAVA, to
      provide technical and administrative support to the body that will make the
      final recommendation to the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

      The Institute's Technical Guidelines Development Committee is expected to
      review and approve the final draft of the new recommendations and standards
      on April 20th and 21st.

      Allan Eustis, project leader for the committee, said the reports will serve
      as a road map to help the EAC create new voting certification standards.

      "It will be up to the guidelines committee to say 'yea' or 'nay,'" he said.

      The report from NIST, said Whitney Quesenbery, of Whitney Interactive Design
      and an advisor to the Technical Guidelines Development Committee
      specializing in usability, is being rushed out "precisely because of the
      gaps in the 2002 standards."

      What's missing, she said, is a specific standard which would cover the full
      range of a person's abilities, including those that face problems in
      accessing a voting system, and where the disability affects the usability of
      the system.

      According to federal election commissioner Ray Martinez, NIST and the
      committee are taking existing standards and updating them with a priority on
      security, accessibility and usability.

      The AutoMark system, he said, could be problematic for a person who does not
      have the use of their hands or is blind or visually impaired to take ballots
      from system to a ballot box which could possibly compromises the independent
      clause of HAVA.

      "The EAC has not weighed in on whether this is the case [with the
      AutoMark]," he said. "We need to look at any of these areas where there is
      ambiguity or need for greater clarity... and these will be voluntary


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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:12 2005

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