BALLOT INTEGRITY PROJECT
Proposal for the Creation of a
National Task Force
Table of Contents
Fair and honest elections are the foundation of all true democracies. Ballot integrity requires an election system that is freely accessible to all citizens of voting age, fully transparent to public oversight and accurate in recording, counting and reporting election results.
We are deeply concerned about the ongoing campaign to turn our election system over to private corporations operating under trade secrets protections and Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Repeated court decisions have held that computer voting machines and the software that record, count and report election results cannot be inspected by public election officials.
We are concerned that no computerized election system used in the past, or currently being installed, has ever met minimum government information technology security standards.
We are concerned that the election industry producing computerized voting equipment is essentially unregulated and lacks mandatory security standards.
We are concerned that the computerized voting systems being installed around the nation are subject to undetected and widespread manipulation by partisan supporters.
We are concerned about elimination of paper ballots, which provide an essential record of votes cast, should circumstances necessitate a ballot recount.
We are concerned about the disappearance of independently conducted and scientifically administered election-day exit polls.
Due to the serious security problems inherent in any available computerized voting system, we believe that the only practical approach to ensuring the highest possible level of election integrity, is to return the nation to an election system consisting of paper ballots with legal vote status and publicly observed manual counts. This is the long-term goal of the Ballot Integrity Project.
In the short-term (November 2004), no election for all federal or state offices should be conducted without a manual parallel accounting control system using paper ballots and public hand counts (detailed description pp 8-9). Computerized voting machines producing a voter-verified paper ballot may be used in addition to, but not in lieu of , a manual parallel accounting control system .
Election systems requiring paper ballots and public hand counts are used in Canada , Germany and other nations with great effectiveness. In the United States , approximately 2% of the polling places use paper ballots and hand counts. Results are tabulated in public view within a few hours.
To assure the installation of a parallel election system (for federal and state offices) by the November 2004 General Election, we recommended the creation of an independent commission to rapidly design and coordinate with state election officials its implementation .
We also recommend the creation of a national citizens task force to be named The Ballot Integrity Project Task Force . This task force will work toward the creation of secure election systems throughout the nation. This proposal outlines the mission, organizational structure and activities of The Ballot Integrity Project Task Force.
MISSION , VISION AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Safeguarding American democracy through election system integrity.
We see a free and democratic America where all our citizens flourish. We see a democracy founded upon integrity. We see voting systems that are open, transparent and accurate. We see our future.
BIP Guiding Principles
Voting accessibility for all citizens of legal age.
Public oversight for all aspects of the election system.
Accurate recording, counting and reporting of all votes cast.
Independent exit polling for all federal, state and other key elections.
The National Ballot Integrity Project Task Force (NBIPTF) will consist of a National Central Committee and fifty state task forces.
Each state task force will be comprised of an organizing committee and several working groups.
The National Central Committee (NCC) will use the same organizational structure as the state task forces.
The NCC will support the work of the state task forces and offer suggestions for coordinating efforts around the nation.
This organizational structure is envisioned as open, highly interactive and without formal lines of authority.
Presented in the next section is a suggested organizational structure for each state task force. Each state task force will be comprised of over a dozen working groups or subcommittees. It is recommended that the task force organizing committee be comprised of working group chairpersons or facilitators.
It is suggested that working groups coordinate their efforts with counterpart working groups operating in other states and their national counterpart-working group*.
*See page seven for a list of working groups.
The following organization structure is suggested for each state task force as well as the National Central Committee:
Organizing Committee*– Coordinates activities of groups.
Legal Options and Strategies Group - Identifies and recommends legal options.
Legislative Options and Strategies Group – Identifies and recommends legislative bodies, legislators and other elected officials with which to work.
Technology Group – Provides expert information and advice on computer software, hardware and information security issues.
Media and Public Relations Group – Drafts and issues press releases and handles other public communications.
Public Education Group - Organizes public lectures, discussions and video presentations on the threat computerized voting poses to democracy.
Vendor Information Group – Provides information on owners, directors and key employees as well as maintains detailed records of voting machines placed throughout the state.
National Communications Group – Identifies and communicates with election integrity groups in other states.
Political Contacts Group – Identifies and communicates with key elected officials including Governors, Secretaries of State, and legislators.
Paper Ballot and Hand Count Group – Identifies nations and other jurisdictions using paper ballots and hand counts, and provides brief descriptions of how they operate.
Activists and Labor Outreach Group – Contacts, informs and enlists support of existing activist groups and labor organizations.
Public Demonstrations Group – Works with other groups in scheduling and organizing public rallies and demonstrations.
Elections Research Group – Studies past elections documenting hardware/ software/ systems failures and assesses probability of computer vote fraud.
Voter List Integrity Group – Monitors maintenance of voter lists by election officials and researches cases of alleged vote suppression.
Recount Group – Researches legal issues, provides historical information and assesses feasibility of election recounts throughout the state.
*Membership may include one or more group representatives
The rapidly approaching General Election makes it imperative that a solution be discovered, installed and successfully tested by November 2, 2004 .
The Illinois Ballot Integrity Project Task Force is reviewing a possible 2004 solution with the following features:
To ensure the installation of a parallel election system (for federal and state offices) by the November 2004 General Election, we recommended the creation of an independent commission to rapidly design and coordinate with state election officials its implementation .
American election history has demonstrated the poor reliability of vote counting machines. More serious than frequent accidental counting errors is the threat of intentional vote fraud. Computer technology now makes possible massive vote fraud that is often undetectable. American democracy will never be secure as long as votes are counted inside black box machines.
It is therefore recommended that all U.S. elections be conducted under the following conditions:
All votes cast on paper ballots having legal vote status.
Upon close of polling place, immediate hand count of all paper ballots in public view.
Upon completion of hand count, vote totals recorded immediately in triplicate on official report forms and signed by all election officials present.
One official report form posted immediately on wall of polling place.
Two remaining official reports and sealed ballot box delivered immediately to appropriate election authorities.
All paper ballots retained by election authorities in secure location until statute of limitation expires.
Publicly funded nonpartisan exit polls conducted and reported on Election Day for all federal, state and other key elections.
Computerized voting machines producing a voter-verified paper ballot may be used in addition to, but not in lieu of , a manual parallel accounting control system .
The elimination of unreliable and insecure black-box election systems will require grassroots action on many fronts:
Achievement of these goals will require citizen action throughout every state and at the federal level.
The National Ballot Integrity Project Task Force provides the institutional structure to quickly launch the massive grassroots campaign that will be needed to create honest and reliable election systems throughout America .
Note: Appendices A and B provide an introduction to the issues and current conditions necessitating the creation of a National Ballot Integrity Project Task Force.
Imagine the following election procedure:
And yet this scenario is an exact analogy, in all relevant respects, to the "computer screen" voting system that has been rushed into use, following the fiasco of the 2000 presidential election.
Finally, and most significantly: Does all this suggest that "the fix was in"? Perhaps . Is there any way of knowing this? Absolutely not: The exit polls were cancelled, there is no independent record (e.g., on paper) of the ballots, and the machines and their software are not available for inspection.
LOSING OUR DEMOCRACY – SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY
Envision a “democracy” where it is impossible to vote out incumbent members of the dominant political party.
Envision a “democracy” where it is impossible to prevent the dominant political party from installing (at all levels of government) a controlling number of its candidates in key executive, legislative and judicial positions.
Imagine if the dominant political party (DPP) could:
Secure control of the companies that make the voting machines and vote- counting software.
Centralize vote-counting systems, and politicize their supervision.
Legislate for the adoption of such systems throughout the nation, and provide large amounts of money for the purchase of these systems.
Establish systems of vote counting that effectively prevent anybody on the ground in the election – at a booth or precinct level from seeing what is happening at a micro-level.
Get all the major media to sign up to a single exit-polling system that it also controls – removing the risk of exit-polling showing up its shenanigans.
Install a backdoor, or numerous backdoors, in the vote counting systems that enable it to manipulate the tabulation of results in real time as they are coming in.
Such a system would enable the DPP to:
Intervene in precisely the minimum number of races necessary to ensure that it won a majority on election night. On the basis of polling the DPP could identify the closest races and thus keep its tweaking to a bare minimum.
Minimize the risks of discovery.
Target and remove individual political opponents who were too successful, too popular or too inquisitive.
Accomplish all the above without the public being the least bit aware of what it was doing.
Is the United States of America rapidly becoming such a “democracy”?
Listed below are 10 introductory articles/essays describing one of the most serious threats that American Democracy has yet faced – widespread computer vote fraud .
Also listed are three web pages identifying several additional sources of information and
analyses on the 2002 and looming 2004 computer vote fraud scandals?
1. The Theft of Your Vote Is Just a Chip Away, By Thom Hartmann, 7/25/03 www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00246.htm
2. Sludge Report #154 – Bigger Than Watergate, C.D. Sludge, 7/8/03 www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00064.htm
3. Inside A U.S. Election Vote Counting Program, By Bev Harris www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0307/S00065.htm
4. A Vote of No Confidence, By Michael Ollove, 8/25/03 www.dangerouscitizen.com/Articles/851.aspx
5. Networks to Dissolve Exit Poll service, By Richard Morin, 1/14/03 www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A51692-2003Jan13?language+printer
6. An American Coup: Midterm Election Polls vs. Actuals, By Alastair Thompson, 11/12/02 www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0211/S00078.htm
7. Concerns Over “Serious Flaws” in Electronic Voting Prompt New Examination by Members of Congress, By Christopher Bollyn AmericanFreePress.net/08_25_03/Concerns_Over/concerns_over.html
8. How George W. Bush Won the 2004 Presidential Election, By Sandeep S. Atwal http://www.infernalpress.com/Columns/election.html
9. Jim Crow Revived in Cyberspace, By Martin Luther King III and Greg Palast http://www.gregpalast.com/printerfriendly.cfm?artid=222
10. Report Critical of Security in Vote Machines, By Jeff McDonald, 8/4/03 www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20030804-9999_1m4diebold.html
For additional information and analyses see:
EcoTalk.org – www.ecotalk.org/VotingSecurity.htm
Electoral Integrity- www.crisispapers.org/topics/electoral-integrity.htm
A Very America Coup- www.scoop.co.nz/mason/features/?s=usacoup