TO: CVF-NEWS FROM: Kim Alexander, CVF President DATE: February 12, 2001 RE: CVF-NEWS Roundup
Last week was a very busy week in the world of politics and technology. In this issue of CVF-NEWS:
* Florida voting commission recommends optical scan systems for 2002 * National Association of Secretaries of State make recommendations * Florida's President of election supervisors shares remarks online * Caltech/MIT Voting Project issues preliminary assessment of voting equipment * NY Times, San Diego Union Tribune report on Riverside County's touch screen voting system * Voter.com closes shop * Campaigns and Elections magazine names www.calvoter.org best state web site of 2000
Florida voting commission recommends optical scan systems for 2002
The Miami Herald reported on February 2 that Florida Governor Jeb Bush's elections task force voted to replace punch card voting systems with leased optical scan systems in time for the 2002 election, at a cost of an estimated $20 million. For details, see:
National Association of Secretaries of State make recommendations
Last week the National Association of Secretaries of State adopted and released its "Election Reform Resolution", which includes a number of recommendations that NASS is encouraging state and local governments and election officials to advance. Highlights include:
- Ensure non-discriminatory equal access to the elections system for all voters;
- Encourage the adoption and enforcement of election day rules and procedures;
- Modernize the voting process as necessary, including voting machines, equipment, voting technologies and systems and implement well-defined, consistent standards for what counts as a vote throughout the election process;
- Encourage states to adopt uniform state standards and procedures for both recounts and contested elections;
- Provide elections officials with increased funding to implement the recommendations of this resolution;
- Conduct aggressive voter education and broad-based outreach programs;
- Expand poll worker recruitment and training programs;
- Adopt and adhere to the Voluntary Federal Voting Systems Standards for Voting Systems.
The full resolution is available online at: http://nass.stateofthevote.org/pubs/pubs_electionres.html.
Florida's President of election supervisors shares remarks online
Pam Iorio is Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County, Florida, and President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. She is someone I have long admired for her work advancing Internet disclosure of money in politics on the local level, and I was pleased, though not surprised to find her at the forefront of Florida's efforts to get to the bottom of reforming their election process. Iorio recently sent me the remarks she made before the Florida Governor's Select Task Force on Election Procedures, Standards and Technology, which provide an excellent and reliable overview that I highly recommend to those wondering why things turned out in Florida as they did. You can read Pam Iorio's remarks online at: http://www.votehillsborough.org/aftermath.html.
Caltech/MIT Voting Project issues preliminary assessment of voting equipment
Last week a team of researchers at Caltech and MIT released their preliminary findings comparing the performance of different voting machines. Their research was based on total undervotes and overvotes in Presidential elections over the past four nationwide elections, and compared the level of the combined over- and undervotes -- what they call "residual votes" -- according to different voting systems. The study found that the so-called "residual" voting rate for paper ballots, optical scanning devices and lever machines averages about two percent, while the residual voting rate for punch card and ATM-like electronic systems is about three percent. Their study and news release is available online at: http://www.vote.caltech.edu/index.html.
NY Times, San Diego Union Tribune report on Riverside County's touch screen voting system
Riverside County's touch screen system continues to grab news headlines. Last week a special election was held for a vacant Assembly seat that included parts of Riverside county. Today's San Diego Union Tribune and New York Times report on that special election and the larger issue of whether touch screen voting is the way of the future or not. I especially liked the remarks from Lloyd Levine, consultant to the Assembly Elections Committee in the NYT story, where he says: "Elections are not about speed and cost....Having your vote count, accuracy, secrecy, fairness and access to ballots -- those are much more important."
The NYT story is online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/12/politics/12ELEC.html John Marelius' story in the San Diego Union Tribune is online at: http://www.uniontrib.com/news/uniontrib/mon/news/news_1n12voting.html.
Voter.com closes shop
One of the biggest and richest political dot coms of 2000 has closed its doors. Last week Voter.com announced that they were out of business, after plans for a merger or last minute financing fizzled. Voter.com made big news last year with its lavish spending on advertising, and for recruiting big names to its team, like journalist Carl Bernstein and Michael Bustamante, former spokesman for CA Gov. Gray Davis. A year ago, many nonprofits were worried that funding for our cost-effective projects would dry up in light of big spending by commercial political sites. But in the end, the political dot coms floundered while nonprofit sites like calvoter.org flourished, partly because we operate on much leaner budgets than the dot coms, and also because Internet voters are looking for a reliable alternative to the commercial information that dominates elections.
See the Industry Standard's piece for more details on the demise of voter.com: http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,21955,00.html.
Campaigns and Elections magazine names www.calvoter.org best state web site of 2000
I'm proud to tell you that http://www.calvoter.org was named the best state election site on the Internet last year by Campaigns and Elections magazine. In their December/January issue, the editors wrote, "California tends to set trends in Internet campaigning, and voters in other states should hope that Calvoter.org serves as a model for independent election Web sites. Unlike other voter sites we have seen this cycle, it has a good, useful voter guide that made deciphering the complicated world of initiatives and 52 congressional races a bit easier for Californians."
The California Voter Foundation's web site was also recognized with the February Civic Mind award, from http://www.civicmind.com. The award recognizes outstanding organizations and web sites that energize civic involvement and enhance public education about law and democracy.
That's all for now. Have a great week!
-- Kim Alexander, President, California Voter Foundation
firstname.lastname@example.org, 916-325-2120, www.calvoter.org
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