Re: Observations on the new VVSG Guidelines

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jul 25 2005 - 12:35:03 CDT

Ron,

> EAC is not overstepping any "states' rights" limitations.
> Remember what the Supreme Court did on 12/12/2000?
> Basically it held that the guarantees of the 14th
> Amendment's equal protection clause precluded Florida's
> approach to recounts (at least in cases where the plaintiff is
> named "Bush"). Now s.5 of the 14th Amendment gives
> Congress authority to "enforce, by appropriate legislation,
> the provisions of this article." Thus, when Congress thinks
> there's an equal protection problem, it can override state
> election procedures -- at least for federal elections, and
> arguably for all elections, since the right to vote is a
> "fundamental" right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
> This is both an opportunity (if we can get Congress (or
> Congress via the EAC to enact good law) and a danger
> (if they enact bad law).
>
I've long felt the that 14th Amendment could be used in arguments in
favor of open and _uniform_ election procedures. Not because of what
the the Supreme Court did in Dec 2000, but in spite of it.

If you live in a jurisdiction where your vote is poorly protected
compared to other jurisdictions, we have an equal protection problem.
And we need an open voting system because that's the only way we can see
if our vote receives equal protection.

>> If thoroughly done, it would be expensive. .......
>
> Of course it would be expensive. Is it expensive for
> Nevada to rip gambling machines to shreds? Sure. Is
> it worth it? Are our votes worth more than our chips? ...
>
Good rhetoric, but the dynamics are too different to be very relevant.

The gaming industry spends the money to do this so they can make money.
If people feel the machines are rigged in such a way that they don't
have a fair chance of winning, they will stay away. They won't spend
the money: The gaming industry will lose money.

This equation doesn't exist with the voting system. You don't get more
paying customers by demonstrating that the voting system is legit. You
may get a higher turnout if people are confident their votes are
correctly counted, but people in power don't necessarily want a higher
turnout.

> Both the states and the federal government (should) be
> overjoyed to pay for real voting security. .........
>
They should be overjoyed to pay for a lot of things. However, there is
tremendous competition for public funds. We could argue about misplaced
priorities and about how, for example, we could fund what we want by
putting the money here instead of one B2 bomber. Some voting rights (or
was it "voting justice") activists do exactly that. OVC can't do that
and remain nonpartisan. Furthermore, I don't think we have to spend
more money to get a secure voting system. Most of it has to do with
procedures.

The kind of voting system we need/want/deserve will be better and cost
less. It will engage the "geeks of America" and everyone else instead
of relatively few cloistered individuals whose main interest is the
bottom line.

Democracy has to be affordable.

>> I think there should be more test labs qualified, but the nature of
>> the industry will probably limit the number to only a few. So, I
>> don't know how much value random assignment would have.
>
>
> Yes, that's a problem. But why can't we (the people) organize
> and fund a REAL test lab? .......
>
Dick Johnson is talking about doing that -- an OpenTest lab.

Did you know that Arnie Urken got qualified as an ITA (some years ago
... maybe mid-90s)?

He closed up shop when ES&S refused to give him the source code. Arnie
appealed to NASED (and the FEC?), but they sided with ES&S. Things have
changed, but there is some distance to go yet.

I think it will be harder now to get qualifed as a Voting System Testing
Laboratory. Look at the FEC guidelines of 1990. Then look at 2002.
Now, we have the VVSG.

> Well, certificaiton is already a highly-centralized expensive
> process. The vendors and Big Government already control it. ....
>
HAVA is a big step toward Big Brother. It was crappy before, but Big
Government didn't have that much to do with it. Now they do.

We should not try to enshrine a lurch toward totalitarianism as "just
the way it is." The Federal Government has accumulated power for itself
continually over the past 200+ years. With HAVA, they are hijacking the
voting system (an anti-Big Government message in the voting
modernization debate may appeal to some Republicans).

> It could hardly get worse -- except if it's revised to disallow
> paper and/or open e-voting systems.
>
Things can get worse ... a lot worse.

> Anyway, I think we need to push for much tighter security and
> transparency now, when we have the chance. It will only
> become harder later.
>
I surely do agree with that.

--Alan D.

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Received on Sun Jul 31 23:17:19 2005

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