Thursday, November 8, 2007




All of the nation’s chief election officials have been named as defendants in a National Clean Election Lawsuit (N-CEL). The officials in all 50 states are being sued to block computerized vote counting.

Plaintiffs from every state brought the suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York and maintain that current election practices, including the widespread use of computerized voting machines, are unconstitutional because they are ripe for fraud and error and effectively hide the physical vote counting process from the public, effectively denying citizens their legally protected right to cast an effective vote.

The lawsuit seeks an Order from the Court prohibiting the use of all voting machines and to force election officials to instead utilize paper ballots and to count and total all votes by hand, always in full view of the public.

Will your vote count in Vermont?

Three citizen voters - David Cole, Gary L. Gale, and Owen Mulligan - want theirs and yours to count! They are the named plaintiffs for Vermont in the N-CEL!

Today (7 November 2007), I accompanied Craig Hill of Montpelier as he presented the N-CEL Complaint and Court Summons
- on their behalf - to three top Vermont officials --

(to a representative) at the office of Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of State;

to Jim Douglas,

and to a representative designated by William Sorrell, the state's
Attorney General.

(These legal papers are being served on all fifty state governors, attorneys general and chief election officials this week.)

Also this week, all the Plaintiffs intend to file a motion for injunctive relief, asking the Court to preliminarily prohibit and enjoin the States from conducting their primaries and caucuses until the questions presented to the Court are finally determined.

The case ( Schulz, et al., v State of New York , et al. ), was filed by 150 registered voters: three from each state. The case was filed in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of New York. The case number is 07-943.

The Supreme Court has ruled twice that our right to vote consists of two parts: a) the right to cast a ballot; b) the right to know that it was counted
accurately. Elections using machines and computers are in effect “black box” elections into which the public cannot effectively look. That is why the court is being asked to forbid states to allow the use of election systems using computers or machines.

These hand marked, hand counted paper ballots (in the ballot box until the polling place closes) must always be kept in public view and in the custody of the
people from the time the election day begins until the votes are counted and publicly posted in the hours following the closing of the polling place.
This means machine-free, computer-free elections!!

From Hand Count Vermont blog --
Vermonters, it's time to wake up!!! These machines are just as prone to errors, malfunctions and software attacks as their infamous counterpart, the touchscreen voting machines.

Sure, we have paper ballots, but what's the point of using them if they are never counted and only left to collect dust...
What you should know about Vermont elections…

FACT: Currently, 94 Vermont Towns will use Diebold AccuVote-OS (Optical-Scan) machines in the next election to tabulate their votes representing more than 50 percent of the state’s registered voters. The paper ballots are fed into the machines but they are not hand-counted.

FACT: On June 28, 2006, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University (NYU) School of Law released a report by its Voting System Security Task Force on the security of electronic voting machines. The report found significant security and reliability vulnerabilities in some of the most commonly purchased electronic voting systems which included the Diebold AccuVote-OS machines used in Vermont.

FACT: The Voting System Security Task Force was composed of internationally renowned government, academic, and private-sector scientists, voting machine experts and security professionals. Their findings were peer-reviewed as well as endorsed by numerous eminent people including Howard Schmidt, who is a former White House Cyber Security Adviser and a former Chief Security Officer of Microsoft.

FACT: Overall, the Task Force identified and categorized over 120 threats to the optical-scan machines and stated, "Almost everything that a malicious attacker could attempt could also happen by accident."

FACT: It has been documented nation-wide that the use of Diebold AccuVote-OS machines has resulted in errors and malfunctions during actual elections. This includes recent occurrences in Grafton, New Hampshire; Uxbridge & Marblehead, Massachusetts; King County, Washington; and Barry County, Michigan.

FACT: Because it has been documented that Diebold AccuVote-OS machines are prone to errors and are also susceptible to software attacks, the Brennan Report highly recommends routine audits of all elections that compare the paper ballots to the electronic record.

FACT: Vermont does not require audits of its elections and only one audit has been conducted since Vermont started using optical-scan machines.

FACT: The one audit that Vermont did conduct of the U.S. Senate and Representative to Congress races in 2006 was 1.4% of each races' totals. Overall, four polling places (Barre City-District 3-3, St. Albans Town, Duxbury and Killington) were randomly chosen for the audit and only after public pressure to do so. According to the office of the Secretary of State, no questionable discrepancies were found.

FACT: The President of the American Statistical Association, which is the largest organization of professional statisticians representing 17,800 members, has stated in a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein of California that, "Effective election auditing may not necessarily be achieved by investigating a pre-specified percentage of votes or voting precincts. Thus, we urge you to replace the 2% audit requirement with audits of sufficient statistical power to assure 99 percent discovery of a potentially outcome-reversing defect in the vote tabulation."

For more info and to take action go to: Vermont's Democracy Blog - HandCountVermont!


Sponsors of this lawsuit are the We the People Foundation, a decidedly right-wing libertarian organisation whose political viewpoints I don't hold. But I do support this lawsuit. There are plenty of inequities in our voting system already: Armed gunmen; crank robocalls; poll worker bullies; racist Jim Crow tactics used to disenfranchis low-income and minority voters from exercising their right to vote. Those injustices are some of the myriad obstacles citizens face when they want to exercise their right to vote. But elections are also not fair and free if the votes are not counted properly!

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