HB 3 Testimony
6 Dec 05
Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today on this important
legislation. I am Phil Fry, an intelligence analyst retired from the
National Air Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. I
am a resident of Champaign county and also a member of CASE, the
Citizens' Alliance for Secure Elections.
This is very important work and I want to thank everyone for the months
of commitment to address problems with our election system. There is a
lot of good work in this bill, but I have to add quickly that I am
perplexed at many parts because they generally make it
harder for some groups of people to vote. If we accept the adage that
know a tree by the fruit it bears,
then I would have to say that this tree should be heavily
To keep things in perspective when looking at new election issues, I
find it necessary to work from a simple basis of values. I think that
most people agree that elections should be fair and open and those two
goals are about all I need. I will explain what I mean. If every
citizen of voting age,
who wants to vote, does so
successfully, then that would be the first essential step in having a
election. Then by an open election process, I am
really talking about accuracy and security in vote handling.
Transparency is the essential second step in a successful election. No
process should be closed to public observation and inspection.
This recalls the motto we used earlier in this election work: Trust,
Verify. Without openness, we are left with a secret processes that
can't be understood and monitored. Without transparency, the
election can not be verified, and the process is in trouble.
I evaluated parts of HB3 against the standards of fairness
and openness. Using these standards helps me to examine this election
tree to see what
quality of fruit it is
The following parts of HB 3 fail according to this criteria, because
they do not make elections more fair.
1. The ID requirement fails this standard because it is not a
fair and balanced plan. The ID requirement makes it more difficult for
to vote while it has no effect whatever on other groups. It is not only
not fair, it is also not necessary; there is no established problem
that will be solved by using a voter ID since there is almost no
voter fraud. This is rotten fruit on our election tree that will affect
hundreds of thousands of voters, disenfranchising many. It should
2. The reduction in the number of announcements of issues and
candidates also fails the fairness standard. This
change will give those who have a computer and get a newspaper pretty
good access to election information. But the large group of people who
don't get a newspaper and
don't have a computer will not have easy access to all the information
This is a significant kind of disenfranchisement that says in effect,
let them vote but make it difficult for them to learn anything about
the issues and candidates.
should receive a booklet of candidates and issues that will be on the
ballot. It should include a brief description of issues and the
background and commitments of each of the candidates. I know this
in California and believe it is done in several other states. I can't
help but wonder
what kind of
thinking would lead our legislators to provide less information about
candidates and issues to the group that probably has the most need of
good information. This is another branch of our election tree
that is bearing bad fruit and should be removed.
3. Incredibly unfair changes are being made to the process of helping
to register and re-register voters. People who help voters register
merely hand them a form and then deliver the completed form to the
appropriate office, and now are asked to do that within 10 days.
The problematic legislation that has
emerged is riddled with unfair requirements.
For instance, only paid
workers are required to sign the form and include their address and
name of employer even though this information will not affect the
validity of the form. Volunteers and selected state employees are not
Only paid workers are required sign the same affirmation every time
they deliver a group of voter
registration forms. Volunteers
and selected state employees do not have to turn in this kind of
The people who help
others to register or register voters are performing an important
service for the state without
compensation from the state. Those who are paid are supported through
of citizen contributions but they are doing work left undone by the
state. They find
citizens who are not voting, encourage them to get involved with the
democratic process, provide registration forms for them to complete and
then return the forms to the correct office.
opportunities should be enhanced by
new legislation, not diminished. Our
goal should be to register every citizen over 18 and to educate and
encourage all to vote. Instead, Ohio is legislating ways that will
the registration and reregistration of our youngest, our most mobile,
and our most elderly.
I suggest instead that we replace the training requirement with an
instruction sheet that can be downloaded, copied, and passed
out to volunteers and workers. I also suggest that the affirmation
document be a one time form that is provided by the agency supporting
the registration drive, filled out once by the worker, and all of these
to the secretary of state's office by the agencies involved. The worker
initial each registration form.
Further, the completed forms should be deliverable to any Board of
Elections as well as to the secretary of state's office. And why not
also make them deliverable to any of the organizations or agencies that
are already set up to handle voter registration forms like any library
or any Bureau of Motor Vehicles office.
The changes in rules for
those helping voters to register are incredibly unfair and
represent more limbs of rotten fruit on our election tree.
4. The solution in HB 3 for people voting outside their precinct is
fair. It is not clear what problem is being addressed by the artifice
of defining a jurisdiction to be a precinct, but his creates new
problems without solving the underlying causes. We can safely assume
that essentially everyone who wants to vote, will try to find the right
place. The only reason for most people to show up at the wrong precinct
is they made a mistake. It would be much better to improve ways to
inform people about their proper precinct before they leave home to
vote and again when they get to the polling place. If people can wait
for hours at a polling place to learn they are in the wrong precinct,
the state has a very bad process for informing the voter. This
jurisdiction artifice is not only unfair it is not needed. There
should also be provisions made to accommodate the occasional person who
shows up at the wrong place so that they can at least vote for national
and state wide issues.
This is a fourth example, another limb on our election tree producing
The following issues fail to meet the goal of an open election.
1. The process of addressing recounts is not open. This may be the
worst fruit on this sick tree. Elections are a process, and errors can
show up in the process in many ways and many places. The current
approach is completely turned around from
the correct way to handle a process where errors can creep in. It is
essential that we think like Toyota and not like GM. We need to build a
process for counting votes that continually improves and is predictably
accurate. 100 % accuracy should be expected when we fix this process.
We must let go of the idea that we have always done a
pretty good job and there is no need to make big improvements. That is
a failed notion.
Whether we count by hand or count by machine, there are going to be
errors. The difference will be in the kind of errors. Legislation that
will help either case requires statistically
verifiable vote auditing techniques as part of the certification
process. In other words, we must make a manual count of a small
percent, 5 %, of the precincts a part of the verification
states are doing this and it is the only way to find unpredictable
errors. It will also help circumvent election counting fraud. Certified
vote counts should be demonstrably 100% accurate,
and the best way to reach that level is to make recounts free. Once you
know you will have to perform public recounts, you will discover ways
to count votes publicly with unquestioned accuracy. On the other
hand, by making recounting less and less likely, your process will
develop more and more errors. Give the county BOEs the tools they
need to count votes without error, require that the public be given as
much role as they ask, and you will not be asked for recounts even if
there is no charge.
This legislation on vote counting leaves
the BOEs with a vote counting system that is susceptible to significant
errors, is inside a black box within a closed room, and is essentially
shut off to rechecking
by the prohibitively high costs established. It can't succeed.
This approach to counting votes will waste a lot of money and cause a
lot of misery. It is another limb that must be pruned off our election
2. The requirement that the SOS post decisions made during phone calls
is a step towards openness but does not go near far enough. The SOS
should be required to also post
all Directives, Advisories, and Memoranda for the whole time they are
effective. The SOS should also post all election results by
precinct as reported on election night. Admit it when corrections are
occasionally needed, but posting and preserving the election night
results will go a long way toward building public confidence.
Further, most postings are done in a pdf format and this is not usable
for reviewing and studying data. Data should also be available in
almost any other format: csv, .txt, .html, .doc and .xls all work
This small branch of our tree is valuable and hopefully it will grow
3. Another step toward openness is the addition made to expressly
prohibit voting machines from
connecting to the Internet. I hope everyone understands and appreciates
the potential for electronic fraud. If you have any doubt, please check
into the case of Clint Curtis, who recently wrote fraudulent counting
software for DRE machines that could not be detected. Regarding this
prohibition of connecting to the internet, I only had the
summary of this legislation to work with, so maybe what I am going to
ask for is already included. But the
restriction should be that the voting
machines are not capable of connecting to the internet, not just that
the connection can not be used at certain times. The hardware used for
internet connection must not be installed, which may be difficult to
ascertain. It is not always obvious what to look for, so this
requirement needs to be in
the system specifications and machines should be examined by a
competent technician. I have had connections to the internet through
telephone lines, through wireless connections at several different
frequencies, through cable, and by a signal that ran through my AC
plug. There are more and more
wireless connection devices being built as standard parts of other
pieces of the computer so this requirement must be in the specs before
the machines are purchased and current machines need to be examined
specifically for these kinds of connections.
This is another limb that is in good health but needs to grow.
Concluding comments and questions.
1. Are you keeping track of the very high cost of the digital solution
to the election process? Have you compared the cost of this approach to
a much simpler scheme? Using an all paper ballot system that is
entirely counted by hand may seem primitive, and certainly has its
challenges, but it is much less expensive and is used successfully
around the world and even in
some 700 jurisdictions in the US.
precincts / municipalities
||# with paper
||some unknown number
||10% have hand counted paper ballots
2. The optical scan system has been overlooked because it is paper
based and presumed OK. But it is still just another black box, a
computer does the
counting of the ballots and there is no audit of these machines. A 5%
random hand count audit of OS machines, as part of the certification
process, is just as essential as it is
for the DRE machines with Voter Verified Paper Ballots.
3. We are required by law to keep the voter verified paper audit trail.
§ 3506.18. Voter verified paper audit trail used
The problem is that we won't have
verified paper audit trail if the voter does not verify that what was
written to the paper roll is indeed his or her choice. Since the window
is in an awkward place and is difficult to read, many voters will not
even realize they have a requirement unless they are instructed at the
polling place that they are expected to review and verify the printout
since that is the only ballot of record for these devices.
For any recount of an election in which ballots are cast using a direct
recording electronic voting machine with a voter verified paper audit
trail, the voter verified paper audit trail shall serve as the official
ballot to be recounted.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.