The photo ID bill sounds like a good idea but it really is smoke and mirrors.
Poll workers will have no way to verify the ID, you could use a fake ID and they'd never know it. If you are determined to commit a felony just to cast a single illegal vote, then you won't be stopped by this requirement, and you probably already have a fake ID.
You can get really professional looking Fake Photo ID card kits on E-bay really cheap - with holograms optional.
If H351 and S352 are about stopping election fraud, then WHY do these bills have provisions to remove safeguards from Absentee By Mail voting?
The changes will make it easier for organized mail ballot fraud, make vote buying and selling easier as well. Look out for several good ole boy rackets to take root, and it will cost us with fraudulent elections. And it will take years to catch and clean up.
Don't know much about mail ballot fraud? Check out a list of news articles about serious cases as in Clay County KY where judges, county commissioners and other high ranking officials were caught up in a long running mail ballot vote buying/selling scheme. Or read up on Bell California salary scandal.
H351/S352 will bring shame down on us for on the one hand, 1) stopping poor but honest people from voting, and 2) making large scale mail ballot fraud easy.
8 states require Photo ID and 19 states require voter ID. In the "voter ID" states, a variety of documents can be provided.
I'm still researching this issue but at time of this writing, it appears that only Florida has a system to verify that the photo ID matches a database.
They have a scanner system at the polls but no back up plan if it fails.
So, in 2010 in one county the system went down for several hours and people couldn't vote.
If you seriously want to prevent voter impersonation ( I won't argue that it does or doesn't exist), then lawmakers should require either a fingerprint scan and a computer at polls to read that scan, or some other biometric ID.
Brazil has voting machines that require voter to have his thumb or finger print scanned before the voter can cast a ballot.
Of course, to implement that system, we'd need at least $60 -$100 Million to buy new voting machines that can accommodate this.
If NC requires photo ID but no system to validate it then the would be voter impersonators can simply provide a fake ID and then vote without raising suspicion.
The honest people, elderly and poor - simply won't vote or they will vote absentee by mail. And it is absentee by mail that is most vulnerable to abuse - vote buying and selling, and coercion of the voter by dishonest authorities, employers or family members.
If you're going to do something, like Damon Circosta says, tread carefully.
My neighbor who would be disenfranchised is a Rush Limbaugh fan, but she still will be impacted due to her age, access to documents needed to obtain photo ID, necessity to ask someone to take her to DMV and spend the day there, limited budget and her pride - no way will she admit she can't afford these documents.
The author focuses criticism on the paper ballot based optical scan machines rather than on the real risk - touch screen/direct record machines.
The big point missed is that even if the optical scan machines couldn't be turned on for election day, voters can still vote - they can mark their ballot and it can be put in the locked ballot box and tabulated on another machine. You can have as many people voting at the same time - as you have a table or flat spot for them to lay a ballot on. Missed is the fact that if the machines did miscount, an audit could pick that up, and the count could be redone.
But this seldom happens. Durham County BOE director Mike Ashe says his optical scan machines work well and that they are accurate.
He does alot of pre-election testing before the machines go out to the polling places - to make sure that things go well.
The touch screen machines are the most dangerous to our elections. If they don't "boot up" on election day, people have to line up behind another machine. This creates bottle necks.
The big problem with touch screens is that their "paper trail" printers are not reliable, and failure rates as high as 9% have been cited in large counties. This means that you might verify your vote on the "paper trail" one minute, and ten minutes later someone votes, the printer jams, and the paper record of your ballot is destroyed. Then all that is left is the digital record, but no tangible voter verified record.
Another troubling problem with touchscreen voting machines is when they are not calibrated properly or get "out of calibration". This can cause vote flipping. Very disconcerting to voters when they select one candidate and a different choice is registered by the machine. This has happened to republican and democratic voters in this state.
We should assume that these are computers, and as such, are vulnerable to flawed software and faulty programming. Recognizing such, we must ensure that we have a voter verified paper ballot (only optical scan assures this) and robust, random post election audits. The audits check the paper ballot against the digital record to see if the computers are counting accurately. IF there are discrepancies, the audit can be expanded.
"Every voting system (perhaps every system of any kind) is insecure. Making them more secure is a desirable secondary priority, but unless we focus everyone on ensuring both auditability and effective auditing, we're just going to create an impossible muddle." ~ Dr. David L. Dill, Founder of the Verified Voting Foundation .
IRV does nothing to improve ballot access for third parties.
In fact, IRV acts to preserve 2 party domination.
According to the Australian analysts at http://www.australianpolitics.com/voting/systems/preferential.shtml
the "Disadvantages of the Preferential [IRV] System" are
-It is more complicated to administer and count.
-It can produce a higher level of informal voting.
-It promotes a two-party system to the detriment of minor parties and independents.
-Voters are forced to express a preference for candidates they may not wish to support in any way.
Also read Libertarian Reform Caucus' paper, "Anyone for a Bullet in the Foot? Instant Runoff!"
Further, in real life with IRV in San Francisco, as far as voters being prepared for IRV:
Even with SF spending massive amounts of money on voter education, many voters were unprepared:
"The bad news is that a number of voters interviewed after handing in their ballot in the
basement of City Hall Monday had not heard of ranked-choice voting --
despite the $776,000 spent on education -- and therefore hadn't studied more candidates
IRV isn't much use if voters haven't prepared to rank more than one choice.
If a person votes for only one choice, their ballot is worth less than other voters
who are prepared and do rank a 2nd or 3rd choice.
In Australia, they have documented "donkey voting", where a person randomly
selects their 2nd and 3rd choices.
I wrote to an official at San Francisco to ask them whether 99% of their ballots cast were valid. Apparently this claim is mis-information from Fair Vote's talking points.
Here is a reply on October 3, 2007 from
Pollworker & FED Training Supervisor, Dept of Elections, San Francisco
She points to election contests that have "exhausted" ballots, undervotes and overvotes, and also asks a question. She says:
'To get some idea of the "valid" (not a term I've heard used in-house)number of ballots for RCV, have a look at the result from November 2006 at
http://www.sfgov.org/site/elections_index.asp?id=61497 and click on the RCV
races for District 4 & 6 which show (and define) eligible, exhausted and total ballots. (All even-number districts were up for election; Districts
2,8, 10 had a majority winner in the first round, so there was no "instant run off" to compute.)
Have you asked the IRV/RCV folks where they got their data?'
In reviewing the data Ms. Matthew pointed to, for the two districts that had a "instant runoff", clearly there was a "high undervote" rate, or instance where voters cast ballots, but chose not to vote in certain contests or "passes":
For RCV District 4:
There were 2,253 undervotes for 10.25% of the 21,985 ballots cast.
There were 193 overvotes for .87% of the 21,985 ballots cast.
In the first pass, 2,171 or 9.87% of ballots were already exhausted, meaning the voters did not rank a 2nd or 3rd choice.
By the fourth "pass", the number of exhausted ballots was 6,010 - or 27.34% of all ballots cast.
In RCV for District 6
There were 2,027 undervotes (no votes cast on the ballot choice) for 10.17% of the 19,915 ballots cast.
There were 160 overvotes for .80% of the 19,915 ballots cast.
In the first pass, 1.974 or 9.91% of ballots were exhausted, meaning the voters did not rank a 2nd or 3rd choice.
By the fourth pass, the number of exhausted ballots was 2.269 or 11.39% of all ballots cast.
We don't know what Fair Vote means by valid ballots and neither does the San Francisco Department of Elections, so we can only discuss how IRV (RCV) affects the number of ballots/votes cast and counted and whether people ranked additional choices beyond the first choice. You can check the links provided to see for yourself.
We don't know what Fair Vote means by valid ballots, so we can only discuss how IRV (RCV) affects the number of ballots/votes cast and counted.
So far, citizens of Cary have not heard both the pros and the cons of IRV.Some citizens in Cary were upset that IRV was adopted without their input.
2 candidates have withdrawn from the at large contest, having been "instantly run off".
There is a tremendous amount of information about how IRV is performing in San Francisco, the largest IRV jurisdiction in the US. SF has had IRV since 2004. San Francisco's elections department calls it ranked choice voting, because it is not instant and can take days or weeks to get the results.
For the IRV experiment in Cary, the Board of Elections is "donating" voter education. Its a shame that this spare money couldn't be used to
improve the voter education for more pressing issues. Our state ranks in the top two for highest undervote rates for President, and 5th highest for provisional ballots cast, and we discard about 35% of those cast.
Fortunately, Raleigh's city council made sure to consult with voters and voter rights groups:
Raleigh NC City Council Members said:
City Council member Dr. James P. West opposed IRV: I indicated that I have some concerns about this especially in disenfranchises certain segment of votersespecially those of lower socio economic level
Council member Thomas Crowder: Just like blackjack in Las Vegas, we are going to see a lot of game-men's-ship trying figure out the odds on putting people into office
Council member Tommy Craven: To me this is something that would certainly serve the convenience of the board of elections but it's certainly not in the best interest of the voting public.
Dr. Rebecca Mercuri, an internationally respected computer scientist and e-voting expert (who has testified to the North Carolina State Legislature about recommendations on electronic voting) advises the following about Instant Runoff Voting:
April 10, 2007
"IRV and other proportional balloting methods have been proven to incentivize the introduction of electronic ballot tabulation in places where none previously was needed or has existed, and they further complicate what has become an increasingly closed process for the determination of election results...
It is incumbent upon election officials to be able to thoroughly understand how results will be calculated, such that manual recounts and audits are possible, when mandated. These processes also become increasingly difficult and more time consuming when run-off methods are employed, so the chance that errors in the electronic or manual vote calculations will be detected and properly resolved is necessarily reduced. Furthermore, there are certain run-off methods that can produce different results based on the organization of ballots in the stack.
Since these methods lend themselves to potential "gaming" of the ballot set that may not be independently detectable or auditable, these run-off styles must be prohibited.
The present climate of distrust regarding election integrity will only be further undermined by skepticism invoked by increased complexity of alternative balloting methods, especially if the vendors are allowed to continue to obfuscate their vote tabulation products."
If you want more than talking points about IRV, see this webpage http://www.ncvoter.net/irv.html
Also read our report on Instant Runoff Voting
Cary election update: Now there are only two.
Roger Hill joins Susan Lawson in withdrawing fromt the Cary "at large" town council race.
But its too late to reprint the ballots and reprogram the voting machines, so any votes for Lawson or Hill will count as if they are in the contest.
NC state law prohibits the county BOE from posting notices about the changes.
Also, North Carolina needs to quit calling this experiment "Instant Runoff Voting". It isn't instant to get the results.
There are no voting machines or software that are federally certified, so results of any "runoff" have to be manually tallied. This requires properly adding the voters' first choice that didn't win, to the second choice and so on.
San Francisco did have voting machines that could tally the vote, but the machines were decertified because they can't read most popular types of ink.
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