Re: PRESS RELEASE DRAFT

From: Kathy Dopp <kathy_at_directell_dot_com>
Date: Mon Nov 22 2004 - 23:57:51 CST

Alan Dechert said:
> I took most of Teresa's suggestions. Anything else?

OK. My two cents... (hopefully not too late)

>
> *************
> ELECTION CRISIS?
>
> Four years after America suffered through a broken election process, we
> still do not have reliable systems to find the winner.

I would replace "find the winner" with "count the votes" so that people
immediately know what the topic is in the first sentence. Otherwise, I at
least am still guessing. "Winner" in what? A boxing match. A highschool
prom queen election? A baseball game? (OK maybe I'm just dense.)

>
> In one case alone, some 4,500 votes were lost from a single electronic
> voting machine in North Carolina. "Paperless voting is a disaster," says
> Alan Dechert, President of the Open Voting Consortium. "Combined with
> secrecy of procedures, such as failure to post precinct totals for
> public viewing at the end of the Election Day, and refusal to
> allow observers of ballot counting, we now have a system that has
> generated widespread suspicion of fraud."

Good paragraph, but change "observers" to "observation" for better grammar.

Here is how I would rewrite that paragraph though because Alan's
name/quote should start the paragraph IMO:

"Paperless voting is a disaster," says Alan Dechert, President of the Open
Voting Consortium. In one case alone, some 4,500 votes were lost from a
single electronic voting machine in North Carolina. "Secrecy of
procedures, such as failure to post precinct totals for
public viewing at the end of the Election Day, and refusal to
allow observers of ballot counting, has generated widespread suspicion of
fraud."

>
> How long must Americans wait for elections where every vote is openly
> counted and where the count can be clearly verified?
>
> Long lines, registration problems, and a multitude of other problems
> meant that countless voters were discouraged from voting. For the tens
> of millions of votes cast on paperless systems, we have no meaningful
> way to audit the count.

I would cross out/omit "and a multitude of other problems" or make it more
specific because otherwise it seems wordy and not elucidating (sp?). How
bout:

Long lines and registration problems discouraged countless from voting.
For the tens of ...

>
> Despite having four years and more election failures, decision-makers at
> all levels refused to fix obvious flaws in the voting system. "Our

A tiny bit too confrontational (yes I know this is me, the pot, calling
the kettle black but editing others' stuff is SO much easier) how bout:

"Despite four years and more election failures, decision-makers at all
levels neglected to fix the obvious flaws in the voting system...

> democracy has been weakened," says Dechert. "While some people still
> hope that electronic voting will work, it would require proper
> security measures comparable to those used in business, including a
> voter verified paper record of the vote, full audits of ballots and
> tallies, and software that is open to scrutiny. We need to begin now on
> a comprehensive effort to open up, and clean up our election system so
> that we are not left with unanswered questions again next time."

Let's shorten slightly to ??:

For electronic voting to work, we need proper security measures comparable
to those used in business, including a voter verified paper record of the
vote, full audits of ballots and tallies, and software that is open to
public scrutiny. A comprehensive effort to open up, and clean up our
election system will avoid unanswered questions in the next election.

OK. perhaps a little easier to read and more direct?

>
> Computer security and reliability is a complex and ever shifting area.

substitute "changing" for "shifting" IMO.

> We shouldn't presume that election officials can fully test all
> aspects of new voting technology. For example in a 60 Minutes program
> last month, Conny McCormack, Registrar of Voters for Los Angeles
> County, said "Voters love them," in reference to paperless touchscreen
> voting machines.

I would shorten this one to "Election officials cannot fully test all
aspects of new voting technology."

and omit the last sentence of this paragraph which I don't see as
belonging in the same paragraph or on the same topic as the first two
sentences.

>
> "Would they ask questions about the safety of a medical procedure of
> patients or of doctors?" asked Professor Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins in a
> recent Computerworld interview. "They should ask computer security
> experts about computer security questions, not end users, who may like
> the look and feel of the machines but have no way of knowing if they are
> really secure."

Omit the last sentence re. Avi being on 60 minutes. It dilutes the first
two which are really a good point together, and doesn't belong in this
paragraph's topic. (besides shorter is better, and you already covered
paper very well and cogently above.)

>
> Ms. McCormack dismissed the threat of vote tampering with paperless
> systems. She feels it would be too obvious for a voter to tamper with a
> system in the voting booth. This misses the more realistic threat of a
> malicious insider rigging the machines. Slot machines undergo more
> testing and scrutiny than our voting machines -- and they have been
> corrupted: In one famous case, an employee of the Gaming Control Board
> in the Electronic Services Division in Las Vegas rigged machines
> without even touching them. The cheating virus was installed by
> unwitting employees using an infected testing device. The scam was only
> discovered years later when the cheater became greedy and sloppy.

Who is Ms. McCormack? She seems to come out of the blue here, and perhaps
I'm unusually ignorant but I don't know who she is, so why not state who
she is otherwise I'm thinking she's some housewife or something, so why
should I care. Also, I would avoid EVER characterizing what someone else
"feels" and directly quote her or not discuss her at all, unless she is
signing this press release with you. Or leave her name out entirely and
just say "Some people dismiss ..."

Or better yet just make this paragraph as follows:

"With so much at stake in elections, there is a real threat of a
malicious insider rigging voting machines." says Dechert. Slot machines
undergo more testing and scrutiny than our voting machines -- and they
have been corrupted in spite of this testing: In one famous case, an
employee of the Gaming Control Board in the Electronic Services Division
in Las Vegas rigged machines without even touching them. The cheating
virus was installed by unwitting employees using an infected testing
device. The scam was only discovered years later. Electronic ballots can
be similarly altered without a trace."

ADD A PARAGRAPH RE. A DESCRIPTION AND THE ADVANTAGES OF THE OVC SYSTEM
including:

Two independently programmed electronic counts that are always reconciled.

One touchscreen machine generates a humanly readable optically scanable
ballot and does an initial count.

A second optical scan machine is built and programmed by a different
vendor and does a second electronic count.

If the two electronic counts do not match, the paper ballots can be
handcounted.

Even the sight disabled can verify their own ballot at a verification
station inside the voting place before placing their paper ballot in the
ballot box.

The programs, hardware and all aspects of the OVC system are publicly
available on the internet so that any computer vendor can build voting
systems, or do upgrades, maintenance or training for the counties, and so
competition will save taxpayers money, as well as create a more
trustworthy open voting system.

I REALLY THINK OVC NEED TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT A SIMPLE DOABLE GOOD IDEA IT
HAS, SO THAT PEOPLE CAN GO "AH HA. YES. THAT'S WHAT WE WANT."

Modified paragraph below a little bit too:

> "Interest in the Open Voting Consortium's approach is rapidly
> growing and we are more confident than ever that our project will
> succeed," said Dechert. "Our group of computer scientists and voting
systems experts offer support and assistance to states and counties who
want to develop lower cost, more trustworthy voting systems.

Leave out the part below re. legislation - does not seem appropriate to
announce that publicly IMO - even if true. so I changed to

Computer source code -- the instructions given to the computers -- used to
conduct elections should be public to preserve America's democratic
tradition of "Secretly counted, Publicly cast" ballots.

>
> The Open Voting Consortium is a Nonprofit California Corporation
> dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting
> systems for use in public elections.
>
>
I hope my comments are helpful. I had the greatest English teacher on the
planet when I was in college that I hated at the time, because she taught
me how to edit by cutting out most of what I said (grr) but I'm still
better at doing it to others' work than my own naturally.

Regards,

Kathy

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-- 
Kathy Dopp
US Count Votes
http://USCountVotes.org
I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth they can be
depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring
them the real facts” Abraham Lincoln
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Received on Tue Nov 30 23:17:38 2004

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