From: Lcfranz70@aol.com [mailto:Lcfranz70@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 11:21 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Last Minute Software Changes Put Citizens Votes At Risk
Secretary of State Reed, Director of Elections Nick Handy:
I fully agree with Ellen Theisen of Votersunite.org. Last minute changes to voting systems in six Washington counties has put citizens votes at risk.
This software is unqualified to be used in Washington State, it has not been tested or certified Federally, and represents a high security risk and a high risk of potential failure, since this software has not been used before.
While legislation passed last year allowed counties the option of using a consolidated ballot, such a ballot was only an option, not a necessity. Legislators might have relegated that option to a future date if they had realized last minute program changes would result.
On July 16, Secretary of State Sam Reed declared an "emergency" and began providing provisional certification of unqualified software. However, the desire to use a consolidated ballot does not constitute an emergency.
Use of uncertified, untested software carries huge risks in an election. State tests of functionality or the L & A test are insufficient to detect errors or potential fraud. Secure voting means not taking unnecessary risks by adding unknowns at the last minute.
Most of the State's counties will use separate ballots and some common sense- waiting until the primary issue is settled before spending money on a new program.
Last minute software changes were a choice, not a necessity. Sam Reed did not have to accommodate the use of uncertified software by issuing 27 pages of changes to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC's). The uncertified software programs do not meet the requirements of state law, Title 29A of the Revised Code of Washington. (RCW's) WAC's are administrative rules but rules cannot violate state law.
King County pulled off a primary in 2000 where voters marked a preference. And if King County knew the program was insufficient in 2000, and given what Paul Miller told me, the county did know, it should have upgraded the software according to law.
Steps must be implemented to safeguard citizens' votes:
1. Robust auditing, by hand, in all six counties. Klickitat is setting the bar at 16%. This must be a hand audit, otherwise, the same uncertified software would be auditing if done by machine.
2. Remove the new software and reinstall the previous for the November election.
3. Monitor central tabulation systems at all times- only authorized county officials may access.
4. Removal of all modems from vote recording and tallying systems.
Any one of the six counties, especially King, Pierce, and Snohomish, should there be an unknown flaw or fraud in the software, could throw the election against the intent of the majority of the voters in the state. The whole state would be disenfranchised.
Nothing should be more important than the safety and security of our votes. Hand-audit the primary election, take out the new software and reinstall the previous programming for November. The "emergency" is about the primary, not the November election.
The issuance of Emergency Rules by the Secretary of State for the upcoming primary, which will also affect the general election, November 2004, are unnecessary and dangerous to the preservation of the public health, safety, and general welfare:
1. No emergency existed. Ballot styles were an option, not a requirement.
2. Washington State uses the same voting systems as other states with primaries requiring preference or allowing a consolidated ballot.
3. Ignoring known problems in King County's software. King County knew about PCO ballot problems at least year ago.
4. Most of the unqualified software will never be tested or certified federally.
5. Rules (WAC's) cannot violate state law. (RCW's) RCW 43.17.060
6. No mitigation efforts were required to protect against potential negative effects. The following mitigation should be mandatory:
Auditing by hand, 16% of precincts, chosen by lot, of all ballots cast of all races on the ballot
Removal of unqualified software after primary
Public review of release notes and specification documents (Not proprietary information)
Monitor central tabulation systems at all times- only authorized county officials may access
Removal of all modems from vote recording and tallying systems
7. This was a premature action and expenditure with primary system in flux.
8. Provisional certification of software that is unqualified by state law and violates WAC 434-333-010, RCW 29A.12.080, WAC 434-333-030, RCW 29A.12.020
I respectfully request that, for the preservation of the public health, safety, and general welfare, that all counties using unqualified, untested new software, perform robust audits of 16% of all precincts in those counties, of all ballots cast, of all the races on those ballots, in the primary election. I request the removal of the unqualified software and reinstallation of the previous, certified software for the general election in November.
1. RCW 29A.36.104 Partisan primary ballots-Formats. Partisan primaries must be conducted using either:
2. Wisconsin- Allows consolidated ballot at primary. No votes count unless a preference is made. (Since 1999)
Pennsylvania- Separate official ballots for each party.
California- Receive party ballot if registered with party + nonpartisan ballot.
Minnesota- Allows consolidated ballot.
In the Presidential Preference Primary of 2000, separate ballots were used across the state. King County used a consolidated ballot.
GEMs was sold to King County in 1998 with the claim it could accommodate up to 9999 PCO contests, so the number of contests at 7550 can't be the issue.
GEMs is slow. However, speed does not trump security in elections.
King could have handled primary with separate ballots. San Juan uses same program and is using separate ballots.
7. RCW 43.17.060 Departmental rules and regulations
10. RCW 29A.12.080 Requirements for approval & RCW 29A.12.101 Requirements of tallying systems for approval.
WAC 434-333-010 Certification of vote tallying equipment.
WAC 434-333-030 Examination of equipment.
RCW 29A.12.020 Inspection and test by secretary of state - Report.