Pennsylvania is one of the few states that stopped the voter suppressing photo id law. I was part of this suit in 2013 and testified before the PA Commonwealth Court on what I had observed. The law was overturned in 2014. We successfully made sure that women, the poor, the elderly, and people of color had an equal chance to cast their ballot here in our state.
What this commission is NOT looking at are the aging electronic voting machines, many of which have no paper trail to verify one’s vote. Here in Pennsylvania, 80% of voters voted on such machines in the 2016 Presidential election. And when a recount was requested, there was nothing available to verify the count other than to reread the same aggregated vote count on the electronic machine chips. As the Morning Call in Allentown, PA reported in December 2016,
These paperless digital voting machines, used by roughly 1 in 5 U.S. voters last month, present one of the most glaring dangers to the security of the rickety, underfunded U.S. election system. Like many electronic voting machines, they are vulnerable to hacking. But other machines typically leave a paper trail that could be manually checked. The paperless digital machines open the door to potential election rigging that might not ever be detected.
The machines and voter suppression, not voter fraud, are the problems to be solved.
There is almost no voter fraud — only four cases of voter fraud were found nationwide last fall. In contrast, a study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego and at Bucknell University found that strict voter id laws do, in fact, suppress votes among minority communities and skew elections toward the political right.
For more about this conflict between so-called voter fraud and the real effect of voter suppression, check out Nel’s New Day blog entitled Voter Suppression Goes National.
This morning, citizens from throughout Pennsylvania came to the Capital Complex in Harrisburg to say that we want to ensure that the ballots cast in the most recent election were accurately counted. Chants of “Count Every Vote” rang out throughout the Rotunda with people holding signs like
STAND UP 4 DEMOCRACY! Hand Recount NOW!!!
Count All Votes
We need a Paper Trail
Military Families Have Earned Transparent Democracy #RecountPA
PA’s voting machines are outlawed in some states!
Hand Recount NOW
Restore my Faith. #RecountPA
It’s a Recount, not a Rerun
Citizens of PA calling for a recount in Pennsylvania
This rally occurred about an hour after Jill Stein announced that she was had filed suit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). She called Pennsylvania’s voting system a “disgrace.” Her federal complaint said, in part,
“Voters are forced to use vulnerable, hackable, antiquated technology banned in other states, then rely on the kindness of machines. There is no paper trail. Voting machines are electoral black sites: no one permits voters or candidates to examine them.”
There were five speakers at the rally. Carl Romanelli, the 2006 Green Party Candidate for the US Senate spoke first. He discussed Jill Stein’s federal complaint, a need to have a forensic review/audit of the electronic voting machines, and a manual recount of the paper ballots in the few counties that have a paper trail.
Pat LaMarche, the 2004 Green Party Vice-Presidential Candidate, spoke next. She blasted the PA Commonwealth Court, saying “Shame on you!” for demanding that the 100 Pennsylvania citizens (not Stein’s campaign) put up a $1,000,000 bond for the court to hold the hearing on whether or not to recount and audit the votes in Pennsylvania.
Next up was MaryBeth Kuznick, President of VotePA. VotePA is a statewide citizen’s organization that believes in fair and open elections in Pennsylvania. This group is leading “the fight against unverifiable paperless electronic voting and dangerous internet voting in Pennsylvania.” She talked about her experiences as a recount monitor in the Ohio presidential recount in 2004. She also spoke of the electronic voting machines that have either been outlawed or required to have a voter-verifiable paper trail in other states, including Ohio and California. These very same machines, now over a decade old, are still used in most counties in Pennsylvania, BUT without any paper trail at all.
I was the next speaker. Representing Concerned Voters of Centre County, my county’s local version of VotePA, I talked about my experiences with both the electronic voting machines (commonly called a DRE) in 2006 and my experiences with this year’s election.
In 2006, I personally witnessed a gentleman attempting to vote on our DRE machines. Every time he tried to punch the voting square for the Republican candidate for Governor, the screen said he was voting for the Democratic candidate. After multiple attempts to get the machine to register his vote correctly, he complained to the Judge of Elections. She told him to go back and try again because his “fingernails were too long” and he wasn’t punching the screen correctly. I followed him out of the polling place and told him that even though I didn’t vote for his candidate, I believed that he had an absolute right to have his vote recorded correctly. The two of us went to the Board of Elections the next day and filed a complaint. Two years later, after voting in a new set of County Commissioners, this incident along with others resulted in the new Board ordering our DRE’s to be replaced by scannable paper ballots.
This year, over concerns about whether our ballots across the state were accurately counted, Concerned Voters of Centre County joined in with many other counties throughout Pennsylvania calling for a citizen-initiated precinct level recount. Over 100 citizens in 32 Centre County precincts (over 1/3 of the county’s precincts) successfully filed our affidavits on Monday, November 28. Unfortunately, due to how the county solicitor defined “day,” our petitions were thrown out; we were told that they were not “timely.” The vote count was certified even after we raised what the Board of Elections considered a legitimate complaint; in at least one precinct, a provisional ballot was counted even though the voter who put the provisional ballot through the scanner had not been verified as a registered voter.
Finally, Dr. Candice Hoke spoke. She is a lawyer, cyber-security professor, and Director of the Center for Election Integrity at Cleveland State University. Hoke talked about the legal (Constitutional) and security issues surrounding the election process in Pennsylvania. As an elections lawyer, she discussed the Constitutional mandate for a complete, open, and fair election process that doesn’t stop once you cast your ballot; it only ends once you can ensure that the vote is accurate. Then putting on her election cyber-security hat, she talked about what can and has gone wrong with the electronic “ballot boxes” we’ve been using across the country and the serious problems we have with the unverifiable DRE voting system we have in Pennsylvania. Her bottom line was that with the lack of a statewide voter-verified paper trail, aging electronic voting and scanning machines, and the inability/refusal to do a forensic audit of the machines and voting, the results of this election are in doubt.
Here’s her full speech.
The arguments for a recount/audit are being made in the public arena and in the courts.
For the integrity of our voting system AND for the health of our democracy. We now wait to see what happens next.
Progressive commentary from Gainesville, Florida, once called the Berkeley of the South. Potano was the chief of and the only known name of the Native American tribe inhabiting the area around what is now Gainesville at the time the Europeans arrived.
“It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” – Harvey Milk
Learn more about the state laws being introduced and passed around the U.S. that is limiting Women's rights. Did you know that the Women's Equal Right Amendment from 1983 still needs to be ratified by 3 more states before it goes into effect?