Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Others Criticize Humboldt's So-Called "Transparency Project"

In my last post, I took apart a December 24 Eureka Times-Standard article (archive). As promised, I have submitted to the paper a My Word opinion column that reflects and expands upon what I posted here a few days ago. I think the T-S has a policy of allowing writers a My Word column every six months. In that case, there may be a problem getting my full essay in the paper right now (previous column 8/16/07, (archive)). However, since it is a critique of such egregious problems with their article, I would hope the paper would open itself up to such criticism. If not, I strongly suspect one of Humboldt's other newspapers will be glad to shine the light.

This morning on the T-S website I found a letter to the editor dated 12/30. It is from S. Franke in McKinleyville, and I've posted it in full at the bottom of this post to show who else besides the Voter Confidence Committee is criticizing the so-called Humboldt Transparency Project.

Before I get to that, however, I want to offer one of the ways that the new My Word column expands on my last blog post. I originally pointed out that the T-S article cited Bev Harris of BlackBoxVoting.org as a Project supporter. What I did not realize at the time was that Harris was about to release a statement saying she was misquoted and actually opposes the Project (full statement follows, italics emphasis added to indicate what I quoted in the My Word column):

Black Box Voting has been misquoted twice in a week, first in an AP article that said Brunner had consulted us before developing her recommendations (she hadn't, and we disagree with her recommendations) and now saying we are behind the latest voter confidence / read: voter con idea.

The concept of providing ballot images to the public after running them through an intermediary program developed by David Dill (or anyone else!) is absurd and misses the point entirely. What is it about these guys that they just cannot RESIST inserting "An Expert" in between "The People" and "Our Ballots"?

At this point the only place to try ballot images would be in contests like the primaries, just days or weeks away, and only in situations where there is no other alternative but a high volume of centrally counted ballots, like in Los Angeles where there will be nearly two million mail-in ballots to count on Feb. 5, just five weeks from now. And then, the only point in it would be if it was done in public, on video, with a separate non-counting off the shelf scanner, and the CDs were released instantly.

So along comes Dill. "Hey, just stick my handy dandy overlay over the ballot images before you give them to the public, it will manipulate --- strike -- "remove stray marks" -- from the ballot images.

One more concept bites the dust. Amazing how easy it is to take people's eye off the ball, which is CITIZEN oversight, not "Dill's oversight."

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Dealing with vote accuracy

Letters to the editor

Article Launched: 12/30/2007 01:15:19 AM PST

Regarding your recent story about County Elections offices ("As primary approaches, election offices are in turmoil," Dec. 24), I don't see the significance of scanning and posting voted ballots on the Internet.

First of all, the idea is getting old and with no funding, probably dead. Second, it does not address fraud because the scanned images will only be the sanitized end result of the process. Third, we could not be sure that all the ballots were there and that the software to sort them was accurate.

While playing with the ballots might be fun, it certainly would not add to the accuracy and security of our elections and would be a frivolous waste of money. It will only add another layer of complexity, opportunity for hacking, and falsely assure the public.

I would like to hear more about the new auditing procedures that should have been instituted -- statistical analysis, security measures, etc., as directed by the secretary of state. Most election offices already have internal auditing procedures and trained employees in place.

I don't believe one thing will confirm the accuracy of all the points of possible errors or fraud that can take place. We need to independently check every step of the voting process carefully and not just depend on a vague promise of some future fix.

S. Franke

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