[EM] Action Request about Help America Vote ActTo Electorama

Warren Smith wds at math.temple.edu
Sun Sep 18 14:22:45 PDT 2005

To Electorama 

(This is a CC of a "special notice" email sent to RangeVoting.)

I have decided to use rare "special notice" emails (which get
delivered even to those on RV who do not normally get emails) for
the purpose of very important ACTION ANNOUNCEMENTS.

That is, situations when the time has come for us all to rise up and
use our mighty weapons to strike down Evil. This is the first such
special notice and I think we actually have a chance to have a good
positive effect here in spite of our small size.

HERE IS THE SITUATION. The USA enacted HAVA, the "Help America Vote
Act," in 2002. It looks to me to have been pretty much a failure,
just an excuse for pork with minimum possible actual voting reform
while disguising the major problems.
Anyhow, as part of HAVA, the EAC was created: the U.S. Election
Assistance Commission.
This is a pathetic toothless body apparently dominated by lobbyists
from voting machine manufacturers, whose purpose is to
create "voting system guidelines." By following these guidelines,
supposedly voting machine manufacturers and election officials
everywhere will become better. The guidelines cover testing,
certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system
hardware and software, and provide a set of specifications and
requirements against which voting systems can be tested to determine
if they have all the basic functionality, accessibility, and
security capabilities.

The guidelines, however, are purely voluntary and have no force of
law. And there is no entity to check to ensure the guidelines are
actually being followed in any case,and indeed such a check may be
beyond the capability of humanity. (Those were was what I meant
by "toothless.") EAC has in fact now produced a (largely complete)
draft copy of their guidelines, which you can download as a 42
MegaByte pdf file (2-volume book) from
http://guidelines.kennesaw.edu/vvsg/intro.asp .
(Also available as HTML files.)
Because it is absolutely unreadable dreck in book form, I recommend
you read it with a computer with text-search-and-find capability.

It is a pretty disgusting document largely consisting of "do
whatever gratifies the hearts of corrupt voting machine
manufacturers and to hell with the public and voting integrity."

Even tiny ways to gratify voting machine manufacturers get
unfailingly selected even if the downside of that choice is the
plausible end of all democracy in the USA.
And many current bad practices are fossilized into the guidelines
(to hell with the word "improve" in HAVA) so that later we will
hear "but our voting machine goes well beyond what is required by
law by even obeying the voluntary EAC guidelines brought to us by
such luminaries as (EAC member and Turing Award Winning
cryptologist) Ron Rivest, so how can you possibly object to it? My
goodness, this is a 2-volume book of requirements!

The EAC is required to ask the public for comments on its
guidelines, and those comments will be permanently posted on its web
site. I want you as concerned citizens to provide your comments. I
believe that they were only going to get about 20 comments from the
whole country. We have the opportunity to double or triple that.
Don't let the SOBs get a free ride.

Your comments may be emailed to votingsystemguidelines at ... (or
by fax to Voting System Guidelines Comments at (202) 566-3127 or US
mailed to Voting System Guidelines Comments, U.S. Election
Assistance Commission, 1225 New York Ave., NW, Suite 1100,
Washington, D.C. 20005.) You have to get them in BEFORE 30
SEPTEMBER. Include as a preface something saying you are a
concerned citizen and have XXX impressive-sounding qualifications;
do not give them any clue your comments are in any way dependent on
anybody else's. You can also recruit more people to provide
comments but remember it all has to go in before 30 september.

I will provide my own comments in continually updated form at
and you can read them to get a clue of what I disapprove of. Also,
you can post your own views to RangeVoting at yahoogroups.com which can
serve as a forum on this (e.g. if you spot something else
outrageous, please let us know about it). I will continue to update
my WdsHava file until the time I officially send it in.

Warren D Smith

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