Ensuring a Valid Method to Verify Election Results
Have you been wondering what's happened with HB 3270, the bill sponsored by Representative Mitch Greenlick to mandate verification of machine-tallied election results in Oregon? Thanks to all of you who previously contacted your elected representatives, it's still alive in the Oregon House - not well, but alive.
The Secretary of State's office has been voicing objections to the bill but it is finally on its way to being amended and is scheduled for a work session in the House Elections, Ethics and Rules (EER) Committee next Friday, May 25th. If the bill makes it out of committee, it will go to the full House for a vote and then on to the Senate. Time is critical now, with the legislative session scheduled to end on June 30th. The clock is ticking to pass legislation mandating verification of machine-tallied election results before the 2008 elections!
Your voices are needed once again.
The method of verification proposed in the original bill was not what the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition had hoped for. However, it was expected that the bill would be amended during the legislative process and the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition has been working toward that goal.
Unfortunately, the upcoming amendments will NOT ensure accurate verification of elections. John Lindback, the Elections Division Director in the Secretary of State's office, is now advocating using the "audit of precincts" method to audit the elections. Under this method, a designated percentage of precincts are audited to compare with the final machine tallies. This procedure is also proposed at the federal level in H.R. 811, sponsored by U.S. Representative Rush Holt. While this method sounds nice and helps in checking specific machines, it is not a statistically valid method of verifying election results. (For more information on this method, see the white paper posted on our website, or go directly to http://tinyurl.com/264ult.)
The last thing we citizens need is another piece of election
reform legislation that is nothing but a Trojan horse.
OREGON CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT!
Over the past 2+ years, members of the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition with expertise in statistics have worked with outside experts in developing a simple, cost-effective, and statistically valid method of verifying machine-tallied election results. County election officials have also been consulted for input on the logistics of implementing the procedure. As mentioned in previous communications, the procedure involves hand counting a scientifically determined random sample of the paper ballots. Because of staffing and cost constraints, the proposal involves statewide races only, such as President, Governor, U.S. Senator, etc. The sampling would be done at the statewide level and would require sampling no more than 50,000 ballots statewide, with the highest percentage of sampled ballots in the largest counties. Our estimate for the cost of this verification procedure is a total of only $10,000 to $15,000 statewide.
Election verification legislation has strong support among key members of the legislature, including Speaker of the House Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of HB 3270, and Representative Diane Rosenbaum, Chair of the EER Committee. However, the Oregon Association of County Clerks testified in opposition to the original version of HB 3270.
Secretary of State Bill Bradbury has previously expressed strong support for a method of election verification. In his speech to the Oregon Association of Counties on Nov. 17, 2005, Secretary Bradbury stated:
"I believe we are faced with a compelling public demand to do more than we're now doing to verify election results.
We cannot ignore our constituents. It's not enough anymore to simply tell them 'just trust us.'
We need to ... look again at the best way to validate election results.
We don't believe that there are systemic problems in vote counting, but we don't have the procedures to prove it. We believe that our elections are accurate, but we need hard evidence to show the public."
How Can You Help?
Demand a VALID method of election verification, not the "audit of precincts" method. Call and/or write letters to:
1. Rep. Jeff Merkley, Speaker of the House
Phone: (503) 986-1200
2. Your State Representative
To find your Representative, visit http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/
For other ways to help, visit http://www.oregonvrc.org/2007/04/hb_3270_what_can_you_do.
Please help us keep track of the grassroots support efforts. Send an email to email@example.com with a brief description of who you've contacted and any other action(s) you've taken. Please also include any feedback you've received.
Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.
The Oregon Voter Rights Coalition.
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