Re: Ms. Tobi's overheated rhetoric

From: Nancy Tobi <nancy_dot_tobi_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 09:59:31 CST

Arthur,

You are wise to point out the challenges to vote counting, in this case,
with respect to hand counting. I believe the mountains of evidence of the
challenges of e-voting force us to look at other means of counting votes
that will be supportive of, rather than subversive to, democracy.

If you have doubts of the "challenges" of e-voting in support of democracy,
just google "glitch" and "electronic voting". "Glitch" - the favored word
these days to explain away the obvious manipulation of our elections. And if
you doubt this claim, answer me how often do you hear about ATM "glitches" -
the same technology made by the same corporation whose product results in so
many "glitches" when used in elections.

I am responding to your queries below in ALL CAPS - not to shout, but to
differentiate my answers from yours for those reading plain text email
without benefit of other formatting options.

Please also download the Hands-on Elections Handbook, for more information
on the methodology and cost estimates for running hand count elections. If
you would like a print copy, send me your snail mail and I will send that to
you.

http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/HCPB_election_admin_handbook

Best,

Nancy

On Nov 11, 2007 8:58 AM, Arthur Keller <voting@kellers.org> wrote:

> Dear Arlene,
>
> Suppose we had a system for hand-marked and hand-tallied ballots.
> Should we avoid using forensic techniques to determine if ballots
> were fraudulently altered because many people don't understand the
> science behind the forensics. Or should we avoid using statistical
> techniques for detecting ballot stuffing in a post election audits
> because many people don't understand the statistics?

*
NT: WELL MANAGED HAND COUNT SYSTEMS, USING BOTH COUNTERS, MARKERS, AND
OBSERVERS, ARE SELF AUDITING. MULTIPLE SETS OF EYES OBSERVE THE COUNT AND
THE TALLY, ENSURING A PROGRESSIVE SELF AUDIT PROCESS. FINANCIALLY FEASIBLE
AND ACCESSIBLE RECOUNTS, WHICH ARE TARGETED AUDITS (TYPICALLY TARGETING
RACES WHERE FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER THE OUTCOME IS CHALLENGED), ALLOW FOR
THE POST ELECTION AUDIT YOU ARE ASKING ABOUT. BUT THIS SYSTEM ALLOWS FOR
INTELLIGENT SELECTION OF THE AUDIT, RATHER THAN A STATISTICALLY INEFFICIENT
RANDOM PERCENTAGE OF A SMALL NUMBER OF PRECINCTS, WHICH WILL NEVER DETECT
FRAUD UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES.*

>
> I served as a Precinct Inspector in the November 2007 election in
> Santa Clara County. One of my assigned poll workers dropped out a
> few days before, and I was told there was a shortage of poll workers.
> I was the only poll worker who was there the entire day. I had three
> poll workers for the first half of the day, one poll worker for the
> second half of the day, plus two spare poll workers who showed up mid
> morning and stayed for the rest of the day. This shortage was for an
> election that was run in only small parts of the county.

Advocates of hand-counted paper ballots often claim that there will
> be plenty of vote counters to do the job. I can tell you that poll
> workers who start at the polls at 6 a.m. are not able to do the job.

*NT; IN NH LAST YEAR STUDIES INDICATE THAT NO LESS THAN 39.2% OF NH CITIZENS
ENGAGED IN COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERING. WE NEED FAR LESS THAN THIS NUMBER OF
CITIZENS TO WORK IN THEIR COMMUNITIES TO COUNT VOTES. ON AVERAGE, YOU CAN
COUNT 700 BALLOTS WITH 20 CONTESTS* *IN LESS THAN 3 HOURS USING 24 PEOPLE.
IN NH, MANY, IF NOT MOST, COUNTERS ON ELECTION NIGHT ARE COMMUNITY
VOLUNTEERS, NOT EVEN ACCEPTING PAY FOR THIS HONOR. IN MY OWN TOWN, WE TURN
PEOPLE AWAY BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO COUNT, AND THE TOWN HAS NO LINE
ITEM IN ITS BUDGET FOR OUR ELECTIONS, BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL MANAGED AND RUN
BY VOLUNTEERS. WHEN CONSIDERING HAND COUNTING, YOU HAVE TO INCLUDE THE
COMMUNITY COMPONENT OR IT WILL NOT WORK. COMMUNITY MEMBERS, TAKING AN OATH
OF ALLEGIENCE TO THEIR COMMUNITY (A REQUIREMENT IN NH BEFORE ANYONE TOUCHES
THE BALLOTS), COUNTING IN PUBLIC VIEW THE BALLOTS, PROVIDE A SELF AUDITING,
CHECKED AND BALANCED, DEMOCRATIC ELECTION.*

> (I had one of the "spare" poll workers count the signatures on each
> page of the roster index and then transcribe the numbers onto the
> summary sheet in the back of the roster index. The poll worker
> missed some signatures and counted as voters the entries I had
> hand-marked as vote-by-mail. The hand-marked entries were the list
> of people who had been sent vote-by-mail ballots after the roster
> index was printed, and the Precinct Inspector marks those voters as
> "vote-by-mail" so they are to vote provisionally if they do not
> surrender their absentee ballots.) Given the shortage of qualified
> poll workers, I wonder where the ranks of vote counters will come
> from.

*NT: AMERICANS ARE GENEROUS AND PATRIOTIC PEOPLE. IF YOU ESTABLISH A
COMMUNITY FRAMEWORK FOR YOUR ELECTIONS, AND YOU ASK FOR HELP, AMERICAN
CITIZENS WILL HELP IN DROVES. IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU ESTABLISH A CRONY
SYSTEM, WHERE ELECTION OFFICIALS ARE POLITICALLY APPOINTED HACKS (IN NH ALL
LOCAL ELECTION OFFICIALS ARE ELECTED AND NOT APPOINTED), AND WHERE THE POLLS
ARE SEGREGATED IN DISTANT LOCATIONS FROM PEOPLE'S NEIGHBORHOODS, AND WHERE
POLLWORKERS ARE PARTY HACKS, WELL, THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT OF VOLUNTEERISM MAY
BE LACKING. BEFORE IMPLEMENTING HAND COUNT ELECTIONS, THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO
SUPPORT IT MUST BE THERE IN ORDER FOR IT TO SUCCEED. THIS INCLUDES, BUT IS
NOT LIMITED TO:
1) COMMUNITY BASED ELECTIONS (LOCAL POLLING PLACES)
2) LEGAL SUPPORT FOR HAND COUNTING
3)* *LEGAL SUPPORT FOR DETERMINING VOTER INTENOT
4) NONPARTISAN ELECTION MANAGEMENT, AT ALL LEVELS!!!
5) GOOD MANAGEMENT AND MANAGERS
6) GOOD PROCESS
7) GOOD CITIZEN OVERSIGHT
*

>
>
> Here's my challenge to the hand-count paper ballot advocates. Don't
> wait until hand-counting is adopted to demonstrate the size of the
> cadre of vote counters. Get them to volunteer now as poll workers.
> Poll worker experience is most useful to be a vote counter.

*NT: AGREED 100%. BUT WE MUST ALSO WORK TO ESTABLISH THE FRAMEWORK FOR HAND
COUNT ELECTIONS TO BE SUCCESSFUL, AS INDICATED ABOVE. A CORRUPT
INFRASTRUCTURE WILL SUPPORT A CORRUPT COUNT, NO MATTER WHAT THE METHODOLOGY
USED.*

>
>
> Also, please tell me how you will avoid vote counters who are
> "bi-partisan in name only" and who count fraudulently or alter or
> stuff ballots in the precinct. (Oh, you'll rely on statistical
> post-election audits or electronic surveillance?)

*NT: AS STATED ABOVE, A WELL MANAGED HAND COUNT SYSTEM HAS SELF AUDITING -
TEAMS THAT INCLUDE TRANSPARTISAN OBSERVERS, AND CITIZEN OVERSIGHT OF ANY
CITIZEN IN THE COMMUNITY WHO WISHES TO OBSERVE THE COUNT. THE DISPERSED
POWER THAT COMES IN DISTRIBUTING THE COUNT AMONG MANY DIFFERENT TEAMS OF
PEOPLE AND OBSERVERS ENSURES FULL CITIZEN OVERSIGHT. ACCESSIBLE AND
AFFORDABLE RECOUNTS PROVIDES POST ELECTION AUDITING.*

>
>
> We will have a real problem with the February 2007 Presidential
> Primary Election in California. Turnout will be huge. Many counties
> will use hand-marked paper ballots with just one DRE per precinct.
> Take the ten or so parties, each of which will have its own
> candidates, and multiply that by the number of languages (minus 1,
> because English and Spanish are on the same ballot), and you get lots
> of stacks of ballots for poll workers to juggle. In the days of
> punched card ballots in Santa Clara County, the multiple languages
> were handled by different sets of instructions for the common ballot.
> For last week's election I had 4 stacks of ballots (English/Spanish,
> and smaller stacks for English and the other 3 languages in my
> county). Even with Democratic, Republican, and Green, that's 12
> stacks of tabloid sized ballots. For 10 parties, that's 40 stacks of
> ballots to handle.

*NT: YOU CORRECTLY IDENTIFY ONE SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO ALL ELECTIONS, MACHINE
OR HAND COUNT, AND THAT IS BALLOT COMPLEXITY. FOR MACHINE COUNT, THIS MEANS
COMPLEX COUNTING ALGORITHMS, MORE DIFFICULT TO CHECK AND BALANCE FOR THEIR
COMPLEXITY, AND FOR HAND COUNT, JUST MORE DIFFICULT TO IMPLEMENT. HOWEVER,
TO GUARANTEE DEMOCRACY UNTIL WE RESOLVE THIS ISSUE OF BALLOT COMPLEXITY, WE
CAN RUN EFFICIENT HAND COUNT ELECTIONS USING THE RIGHT NUMBER OF PEOPLE AND
THE BEST METHODOLOGIES. NH HAS SOME OF THE MORE COMPLEX BALLOTS IN THE
NATION BECAUSE WE HAVE THE LARGEST LEGISLATURE AND THEREFORE MANY
MULTI-MEMBER DISTRICTS. WE ALSO HAVE SOME OF THE LARGEST POLLING PLACES, AND
OUR HAND COUNT TOWNS STILL PROCESS UP TO 2-3 TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE
NUMBER OF BALLOTS IN ANY POLLING PLACE. FOR INSTANCE, 2500 BALLOTS, COUNTED
BY HAND, BY 21 PEOPLE IN LESS THAN THREE HOURS.

PROCESS, PEOPLE, PAPERS AND NUMBERS. THAT'S WHAT YOU HAVE TO MANAGE IN A
HAND COUNT ELECTIONS. THE STAFFING NEEDS CAN BE FIGURED OUT AHEAD OF TIME
AND AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE RIGHT PROCESS AND GOOD MANAGERS, IT CAN BE DONE.
IT IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. BUT IT IS OUR DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRACY DOESN'T
HAPPEN UNLESS THE VOTE COUNT IS OBSERVABLE. PERIOD.
*

>
>
> No wonder Registrars of Voters are pushing vote by mail. Fewer
> voters at the polls means shorter lines for poll workers.

*NT: THESE ELECTION OFFICIALS SHOULD ALL FIND OTHER JOBS. DEMOCRACY IS NOT
CONVENIENT. IT IS MESSY AND IT TAKES TIME AND COMMITMENT. WE DON'T NEED
SHORTER LINES FOR POLL WORKERS AND WE DON'T NEED TO GET THEM HOME FROM THE
POLLS AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. WE NEED OBSERVABLE VOTE COUNTS. PERIOD. IF THEY
ARE NOT UP TO THE TASK, THEY SHOULD STEP ASIDE.*

>
> About voter preference, 106 voters cast ballots in my polling place.
> Each of them was offered a choice of "paper or plastic (i.e.,
> electronic)" ballot. Fifteen chose paper ballots, and 91 chose
> electronic ballots. Three voters surrendered their vote-by-mail
> ballot and voted electronically. Some people were reassured because
> our electronic ballots were accompanied by a paper trail.
>

*NT: THIS IS BECAUSE MOST AMERICANS TODAY DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT WHAT
DEMOCRACY MEANS AND WHAT IT REQUIRES. WE ARE COMPLACENT AND LAZY, AND WE
HAVE AN IRRATIONAL TRUST OF TECHNOLOGY, ACCEPTING WITHOUT QUESTION THAT IT
IS A TOOL OF DEMOCRACY. A LITTLE EDUCATION TAKES CARE OF THIS. ANYONE
WATCHING THE HBO DOCUMENTARY "HACKING DEMOCRACY" UNDERSTANDS IMMEDIATELY
THAT WE NEED TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. DO NOT MISTAKE IGNORANCE FOR WHAT IS
RIGHT.*

>
> In a few days, I will write up more of my experiences as a poll
> worker this time. My report on the November 2006 election (where the
> paper trails ran out) was posted to this list last year.

*NT: LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.*

>
>
> Best regards,
> Arthur
>
> At 7:48 PM -0500 11/8/07, Arlene Montemarano wrote:
> >Mr. Cherlin, we will never agree. I had my say and you don't
> >agree. I think your approach is probably wonderful, but if people
> >like me cannot comprehend what you are doing, it is not appropriate
> >for voting.
> >
> >So let us not proceed with this exchange. It is already becoming testy.
> >
> >Thanks though, for all your hard work on the issue. It is apparent
> >that you are dedicated to the effort.
>
> --
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:12 2007

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