New York’s Two Choices: Paper Ballots/Optical Scanners or Electronic Voting

Speaker: Teresa Hommel, Electronic Voting Activist

A joint meeting with NYPC and NYACC
Date: Thursday April 13, 2006
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: NYU Silver Buiding, 32 Waverly Place (off Washington Square) NYC
Please present Photo ID: Room number TBA

A voter goes into the booth, chooses candidates, pulls the lever, or presses enter on the computer screen; then their votes are accurately tallied — Right? …Well maybe.

Most people coming to this meeting are computer people. We have gotten used to the speed and accuracy of our machines — most of the time! But who among us has never had a computer problem? Or had a friend with software malfunction, virus problem, or malware? Can computerized voting ever be handled securely?

It seems intuitively obvious that there must be a reliable do-able way for an independent audit of the vote tally. But some states have bought expensive voting machines that are designed to prevent independent verification of tallies. They are sold by vendors who will not reveal their source code and claim this is a trade secret. The vendors say the computer checks itself and that is all that is needed. (Does anyone remember the story of the fox verifying the population of the hen house?)

Hanging chads are looking better all the time! How about a paper ballot that can be read by an optical scanner, and if there is a challenge it can be counted by hand? I think I will invest in number two pencils.

Our speaker will be Teresa Hommel, Chair, Task Force on Election Integrity, Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist (URL: ). A corporate trainer in computer technology and a consultant for more than 20 years, Teresa Hommel has been speaking to groups in New York and other states about the problems with electronic voting systems and the threat they pose to the integrity of our elections and the legitimacy of our representative government. Ms. Hommel’s voting machine simulation program, called the “Fraudulent Voting Machine” has been used internationally to help people understand the risks associated with computers used in elections.

Note: (This is not NYPC’s regular meeting date, but it is NYACC regular date and location.)