The Oregon Voter Rights Coalition applauds election reform activist Barbara Gail Jacobson, who on Wed. July 5 filed a challenge to the June 6, 2006 California US House District 50 Special Election (San Diego County). We share her concerns that critical security problems in the administration of the election have led to an invalid election. It is significant to note that these procedural problems are by no means limited to just this election, but are illustrative of questionable procedures widely used in California and throughout the nation. This election illuminates the dire need for nationwide reform.
The most apparent methodological problem in this election is the use of "sleepovers" to ease the logistical problems of transporting and placing voting equipment. Voting machines were taken home by poll workers in the days and weeks prior to the election. Reportedly a practice used for decades, this procedure of sending voting machines home is antiquated in the modern age of computers. Computer technology lends itself to host of problems, not the least of which is the corruptibility of the operational software. Prior to their use in an election, access to these machines should be significantly and uniformly limited.
While San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas notes that training and "chain of custody" processes were rigorously followed, allowing voting equipment "sleepovers" presents multiple and significant opportunities for security breaches. No segment of an election - or pre-election process - should be conducted in a manner that is insecure. Procedures of complete security, coupled with reliable verification, must be instituted and followed in order to ensure a valid election.
Certainly the standard of 100% security and reliability should apply to this and every other election, of local or national scope, throughout the country. This election is just one among thousands that exhibit procedures which are either insecure, unreliable, or both.
Voters have no basis for confidence in this or any election conducted under insecure and unverified conditions. Citizens have the right to KNOW election results are accurate. Voters cannot be asked to "just trust" the results in an insecure and unverified election. The results of an election are not important because of who wins and who loses, but because the results should accurately reflect the will of the people.
To settle for anything less is oppositional to the spirit and the substance of democracy.