Amid troubling reports on election integrity, Dem introduces paper-ballot legislation
As new reports are emerging about vote-counting problems and potential conflicts of interest regarding handling of ballots, a Democratic congressman has introduced new legislation that would make it easier for states to audit their election results.
Rep. Rush Holt's bill was introduced the same day that Maryland voters learned the security of their electronic voting machines would be entrusted to a high-profile Republican operative, and as activists were documenting irregularities in last week's New Hampshire primary.
Brad Friedman, who has been following the New Hampshire primary vote recount reports his latest findings of problems being disovered with the Diebold machines:
"Disparities being found during hand-counts of ballots, in many wards, many candidates. Diebold op-scan memory cards unaccounted for at the moment, Secretary of State (SoS) doesn't track them after elections, doesn't track error reports during elections. LHS Associates (see below) handles all of it instead, according to reports on the ground. Public records request reveals hundreds of ballots in one area scanned as blank due to incorrect ink used on ballots, and other problems on LHS problem report forms."
The rest of Brad's report can be read at BradBlog.
If election officials do not track memory cards after votes are cast it becomes more difficult to maintain the integrity of each machine when it leaves polling stations.
This report from Wired gives more possible reason to be concerned:
"A family-owned trucking firm that has a contract to deliver Diebold electronic voting machines to 14 voting districts in Maryland is headed by the former chairman of Maryland's Republican party, Wired News has learned.
Office Movers, which is owned by The Kane Company in Elkridge, Maryland, received the contract from Diebold Election Systems to transport the company's machines from warehouses to the polls for the state's Feb. 12 primary and November general election.
John M. Kane, president and CEO of The Kane Company, was chairman of the Maryland Republican Party from the end of 2002 until December 2006. He is also a member of the statewide steering committee for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. According to one news report, Kane has been tasked since last month with raising money for Romney in Maryland, a Democratic stronghold. His wife is a delegate on the Republican primary ballot for Romney rival Rudy Giuliani."
The voting machine in Maryland also produce no paper trail, and have experienced 'glitches' in previous election cycles.
Mary Kiraly of the Maryland Election Integrity Coalition, expressed concern:
"Twenty thousand voting units leave the custody of Board of Elections officials, and they are placed in the hands of a third-party private company responsible, not to the state Board of Elections, but to the vendor," Kiraly says. "How was this company chosen, and who vetted the employees who handle and deliver these vulnerable voting units?"
Ross Goldstein, deputy administrator with the Maryland state Board of Elections isn't concerned, and feels secure with knowing the machines are sealed and "tamper-taped."
A spokesman for Diebold said that Office Movers has had government and local board of election contracts going back for years, and David Paulson, spokesman for Maryland's Democratic Party believes that Mr. Kane of Office Movers is an "honest person" who wouldn't "do something illegal or unethical in service of a contract like this." He further states "because Democrats control local boards of elections across the state, he expects that "these contracts and this delivery service will be closely watched and monitored to ensure that nothing untoward occurs."