Monthly Archives: November 2007

Kathy Dopp and the MN Post Election Audit Summit

(Rebecca Mercuri asked me to write this as a follow-up to my post about the MN Post Election Audit Summit. I’m a bit hesitant as I do not know the whole story, have had very little interaction with any of the players, and I am concerned that I am jumping into a preexisting conflict which I know very little about. I am posting this anyways as a favor to Rebecca.)

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listed as a top election technology blog

This morning I noticed Election Technology’s list of top election technology blogs.

I’m surprised and flattered to see that I snuck into the list as #10:

All About Voting: Rounding out the list is blog by Sacramento software developer Greg Wolfe. Largely his personal commentary about voting issues, it’s interesting to get an additional perspective on issues and we’d like to see this blog continue and grow.

I’ve been following about half of the blogs mentioned in that post; I’ll be sure to check out some of the other ones. I’m surprised that I made the list at all given that I’m not primarily focused on election technology and that I am not directly involved in election administration or in the development of election systems.

National Journal: What’s So Special About Tuesday?

The National Journal has posted an article about WhyTuesday?:

any election watchers know that national elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but why that day in particular?

A nonprofit election reform group called Why Tuesday has been asking just that question of presidential candidates through a series of Web videos released every Tuesday on their Web site. By simply asking the question of why Election Day is when it is, the group is getting people to talk about different possibilities, such as Election Day being a national holiday or general elections being held on a weekend.

An integral part of the group’s strategy for this election has been engaging candidates about election reform through their “candidate challenge.” Executive Director Jacob Soboroff has been traveling to Iowa and beyond to ask candidates about their plans for reform, and has found that most are interested in the issue, although many don’t know — along with most of America — that the reason we vote midweek in November is because of the 19th-century agrarian calendar, which begs the question of whether it’s time to update our election timetable.

Republican CA electorial college proposal and Ballot access issues

The Ballot Access News has noted that the Republican CA initiative regarding the electoral college may raise ballot access barriers for third-party candidates:

Current law requires an independent presidential candidate petition to list the names and addresses of 55 candidates for presidential elector. However, current law does not have a residence requirement for candidates for presidential elector, except that the electors must be California residents.

The initiative says that candidates for presidential elector must each live in the district that he or she hopes to represent. Therefore, an independent candidate for president would have the task of lining up a slate of candidates for presidential elector, one per US House district. This work must be done before the petitions are printed.

Post-Election Auditing Summit

I’m continuing my tradition of posting about conferences that I have not attended…

The Post-Election Auditing Summit was held in Minneapolis October 25-27, 2007.

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Daily Voting News for 2007 elections

I’ve got a backlog of election material to talk about so I’ll do a little bit of link-blogging to catch up.

John Gideon’s Daily Voting News (DVN) links to a plethora of post-election Tuesday articles from this year’s elections:

This is a typical post-election day DVN. Lot’s of reports of failures and problems. Part of the problem with today’s technical elections is that they are “high tech” and probably too “high.” Voters don’t understand it all and election workers don’t understand even when they are supposed to have been trained. Most Election officials clearly don’t understand what is happening so they blindly take the word of the vendors. The single county with the most problems last year seems to have repeated its poor record. Marion Co (Indianapolis) Indiana has a real problem with elections administration and the machines.

The DVN covers all sorts of election news but it is primarily focused on election integrity and voting machine issues.

Alex Keyssar on “How Not to Choose a President”

Alex Keyssar (professor of history and social policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government) recently published an op-ed called “How Not to Choose a President” for the LA Times.

The article was originally titled in a misleading way by LA Times editors (as “Dump Winner-Take-All”) that incorrectly suggested the Keyssar was a supporter of the Republican proposal to distribute CA electors by congressional district. Keyssar is not a supporter of that plan as is clear from a careful reading of the article.

The article discusses the history of electoral college shenanigans through the US’s history.
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Revived attempt to ‘fix’ CA electorial college votes

I guess that I spoke too soon. The partisan Republican attempt to change the way that California distributes it’s electoral votes is back in action.

The Ballot Access News reports:

According to this story in the Riverside, California Press-Enterprise, wealthy Congressman Darrell Issa of San Diego County has agreed to pay to get an initiative on the California June 2008 ballot. That initiative would provide that each U.S. House district elect its own elector. The initiative already collected 100,000 signatures in August, then had been abandoned for lack of funding.

Here is Jack Santucci’s take on this development (Jack was an analyst at and I’ve disagreed with him frequently on other matters. Here I am nearly full agreement with him.):

CA Congressman Darrell Issa (R-49) will help bankroll the effort to split California’s Electoral College votes by congressional district (CD allocation). And he’s defending it as a move to “proportional representation.”

“This is about making people’s votes count,” he said. “It’s about proportional representation.” […]

Issa insists that he has not endorsed a candidate for president and said the effort is not motivated by politics, but by a desire to increase voter turnout in the state.

“If Florida had proportional representation [in 2000], Al Gore would be president today,” he said.

In another post I highlight some problems with CD allocation. The biggest (in my opinion) is that doing so would drastically raise the stakes of redistricting wherever the system were implemented. Bluntly, gerrymandering would affect presidential elections.

Colbert’s presidential bid

Colbert running for president

Comedian Stephan Colbert (host of fake personality-driven pundit shows ‘the Colbert Report’ on Comedy Central) had announced that he was running for president.
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Quantum crypto in elections? To what end?

From Network World:

Swiss officials are using quantum cryptography technology to protect voting ballots cast in the Geneva region of Switzerland during parliamentary elections to be held Oct. 21, marking the first time this type of advanced encryption will be used for election protection purposes.

For the Swiss ballot-collection process, the quantum cryptography system made by id Quantique will be used to secure the link between the central ballot-counting station in downtown Geneva and a government data center in the suburbs.

“We would like to provide optimal security conditions for the work of counting the ballots,” said Robert Hensler, the Geneva State Chancellor, in a statement issued today. “In this context, the value added by quantum cryptography concerns not so much protection from outside attempts to interfere as the ability to verify that the data have not been corrupted in transit between entry and storage.”

Got that? Swiss officials will be using quantum crypto to encrypt the communication channel between a central ballot counting station and a government data center. It’s only used for a small part of the election process and, to the best of my knowledge, the information that is being transmitted along this channel ought to be public information anyways.

So I see nothing of value here. Standard communication techniques like SSL would have worked fine. I’m not alone in my assessment.

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