Friday, November 27, 2009

The Plunging Pilot Project: Impossible Vote Totals in NY-23

Re-posted from our "Levers" site

Last night, on the eve of Thanksgiving, election fraud investigator Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. published an article in the Governeur Times revealing Impossible Numbers Certified in NY-23. Phillips is best known for his book, Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election, detailing the investigation he led of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. But he actually lives in St. Lawrence County, NY. So when questions began being raised about the vote counts in the special Congressional election earlier this month, Phillips was quickly on the case.

His article released last night reveals, “The election results certified by the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections for New York’s 23rd Congressional District contain some numbers that are mathematically impossible.” The article goes on to detail the negative numbers included in certified vote totals. Read it. It reveals important information everyone concerned about democracy should know.

St. Lawrence County was part of the State’s “pilot project,” an early rollout of the optical scan voting technology that will be required to replace lever voting systems by our next election — if not stopped by legal action. The Election Transparency Coalition is preparing to file litigation to have concealed vote counting — such as the counting that takes place inside optical scan voting systems — declared unconstitutional.

St. Lawrence County’s now-certified election results cannot be accurate. The true vote count cannot be known. And while other counties involved in the early rollout of electronic vote-counting systems may have produced possible vote totals, their true vote counts are no more knowable. Only with a system where the public has access to meaningful observation of every step of the vote-counting process do we have a basis for confidence in election results.

This is why Virginia Martin, Democratic Election Commissioner from Columbia County, recently testified that she would refuse to certify an election in which she could not verify the accuracy of the vote count.

Richard Hayes Phillips joins ETC in supporting NY’s time-tested and transparent lever voting system. The reasons for his support are detailed in his article, “In Defense of Lever Voting Machines,” published on his own website, and reiterated in the Gouverneur Times piece.

While the pilot project is clearly in a nosedive, the State is proceeding with its plan to certify the very electronic voting system responsible for the impossible numbers in the NY-23 race. This certification would be meaningless and would lead to elections that are just as meaningless. As Phillips says, “How can we have a democracy if we cannot know if the vote count is accurate? If election officials cannot know, and if the candidates cannot know, and if the voters cannot know that the official results are true and correct, why even have an election?”

Please join us in our work to stop the abandonment of NY’s working, affordable, trustworthy voting system and its replacement with systems that keep the true vote count secret from the voters themselves.

by Emily Levy

Emily Levy is the Election Transparency Coalition project coordinator.


On this Thanksgiving, we at ETC are thankful for the work of Dr. Phillips, Commissioner Martin and all those who dedicate themselves to the constitutional principles of transparent democracy.