Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Speaking of Hard to Prove Intent…Mr. Miller, are you there?

Posted by bsflag2007 on Saturday, February 3, 2007

Voting reform seen unlikely until 2010
Miller cites state budget problems

By Melissa Harris
sun reporter

Originally published February 2, 2007

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said yesterday that he could not support an overhaul of the state’s paperless voting system until 2010 in light of anticipated budget shortfalls and a hectic election season in Baltimore.

 “There’s a consensus that we need to change the voting system and have a more secure voting system,” Miller said.
Miller’s unwillingness to commit to “paper-trail” legislation this year significantly lowers the chances that voters will cast their ballots on modified or new equipment next year.
—————————————————————————————————————————
Let me get this straight.  There is “concensus” that we need a more secure voting system —- concensus defined as “general agreement” — and a meaningful way to preserve and verify election counts —- but we are not going to make it a priority in time for the next Presidential Election?

Apart from defending against invading armies – there is (imho) no more important duty of the government than to provide for legitimate elections.

If we don’t have legitimate elections  – nothing  the “elected officials”  do (or try to do) has any legitimacy.

Now, I’m not saying this is the case ….. but if the “party in power” wanted to abuse its position to make sure it stayed in power…. what better way than to impede, delay, deny efforts to correct problems with the accountability, verifiability (?),  of the voting process.

I notice that during the last election it was the Republican  candidate for governor (arguably the minority party in MD) who expressed concerns over the lack of a paper trail for the Maryland voting apparatus…. and now that the Democrats are  back “in charge”, they plan to “choose” to avoid addressing the paper trail issue until at least after the next presidential election.

Is there a connection?  Maybe… maybe not.  Doesn’t really matter to me.   But it does make one wonder about the priorities of those “in charge”.

I would prefer to be urging one of the many republican administrations with records of “voter irregularities” to do what ever it takes to make sure every vote is cast, counted and recorded properly.   (Democrats are supposed to be above cheating ;))

But I live in Maryland, and it is “my” government which is deciding to let a questionable system continue.

Even though I will probably prefer to see a Democrat win (though it depends on who the choices are), I still want to see a fair, verifiable, election with a user friendly, idiot proof  ballot procedure – and a solid paper trail.

Mr. Miller – I know you read this blog.  Put the voting system – and the paper trail – back on the priority list …on the top  …. it is only a matter of legitimacy and credibility.  Without it – you have nothing.

Cindy Vaillancourt

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4 Responses to “Speaking of Hard to Prove Intent…Mr. Miller, are you there?”

  1. hocoterp said

    It may not be often, but I think I have to agree with Mike Miller on this one. Baltimore City has a primary and general election this summer/fall and then statewide there is the Presidential primary in March and the general election in November. Theoretically the three plus months between the Baltimore election in November and the Presidential primary in March or the seven plus months betwen the Presidential primary and general may be enough time to switch between voting systems. Theoretically. I don’t have that level of confidence in the state and local boards of elections to think that they could pull it off. One of the few things worse than the current system is a rushed, hectic, let’s hope this works implementation of a new voting system. If we’re going to implement a new system – and the consensus seems to be yes – let’s make sure we do it right and get a system that absolutely works for 2010.

    Just for the heck of it, the little bit of a cynic in me wants to add two things – 1) while the cost of the system may be a legitimate concern for many people, it’s a cop-out coming from people like Mike Miller and other leaders in Annapolis because they set the priorities for funding and 2) Maryland and its electoral votes are going to the Democrat anyway and only a huge amount of fraud is going to change that.

  2. cindy vaillancourt said

    Good points —- though instead of trying to rush some “new” voting system — there are lots of “old” voting systems available. Tried and true, low tech.

    In North Caroline we used the ones that have you “complete” the arrow to the name you want — with a black marker. Then you feed the form into a “reader which counts to vote — and the paper ballot is saved.

    Plus- if someone messes up their paper ballot – they know it right away and can make any necessary arrangements. And for an added bonus – the “counter” on the device shows you whether your ballot was successfully entered. (it doesn’t disclose the actual vote – just that a vote was counted).

    It was a great system — I’ll say I was not crazy about the ones we used in Ohio and in Massachusetts that involved feeding the ballot into a hole punching machine. and then depositing the paper ballot into a box. Not as comforting as NC – but at least there was the paper back up.

    cv

  3. timactual said

    Perhaps we will get lucky and find that the old machines that were replaced by the new, improved, computerized system are still in some warehouse, and can be put back in service at minimal cost to the taxpayers.

  4. cindy vaillancourt said

    “new and improved” may be an overstatement.

    as for cost – I guess it depends on what value one assigns to credible and verifiable elections.

    in the “lessons learned” column – we should add: don’t throw away the old equipment until we are certain the new equipment works properly.

    To consider: — Have you heard of the “digital dark age”? The enormous amounts of information being stored on computers/disks etc are at risk of not only becoming inaccessible due to software and hardware upgrades — but the data can be subtley, even imperceptibly, altered. For example – schematics for submarine were noted to have been altered in very subtle ways when accessed by crew.
    Archivists note that one can still read tomes from 1081 (exactly as written), but information digitally archived in the 1970’s is now inaccessible, damaged, altered, or otherwise changed.

    cindy v.

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