Re: AAPD attacking AutoMark

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Mon Apr 25 2005 - 00:20:50 CDT

Dickson doesn't appear to be that old, and I believe that money had a
lot to do with his current position. If you wish to know more, send me a
separate email.


Ed Kennedy wrote:

> Hello:
> 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,
>> Arthur
>>> 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
>>> systems.
>>> 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
>>> certification.
>>> 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
>>> secrecy."
>>> 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
>>> guidelines."
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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:12 2005

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