May 03, 2022

In New Hampshire: A continuing plea for hand-counted audits

May 3, 2022

Dear Representatives:

I write in opposition to SB 366-FN, An act requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general election.

As I have written to Senator Gray in the past, I am opposed to the lack of transparency and public oversight and increased reliance on hackable, riggable computerized election machinery that using scanners and ballot images for audits embodies.

No true election security expert endorses using a scanner to perform an audit, even if it's a new make or model. Manual/hand-counted post-election audits have been recommended since 2009 by both the Secretary of State's own Electronic Ballot Counting Device Advisory Committee [formerly at http://sos.nh.gov/ballotcountdev.aspx] and the national League of Women Voters [https://sites.google.com/a/leagueofwomenvoters.org/clearinghouse/rep/election-administration/lwvus-report-on-election-auditing], as well as the experts who testified before the Kobach commission: Andrew Appel, Harri Hursti, and Ron Rivest. [https://youtu.be/XkPJbbKPJ_w]

Verified Voting, the premier body of election experts, is unequivocal: "Audits require human examination of voter-marked paper ballots... Audits cannot rely on scanned images or machine interpretations of the ballots to accurately reflect voter intent" (p. 7, Principles and Best Practices for… Audits). [P. 7, https://verifiedvoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Principles-and-Best-Practices-For-Post-Eleciton-Tabulation-Audits.pdf

Let us stop to ask, Why do audits in the first place? It's because election security experts know there are too many undetectable vulnerabilities with computerized voting, and manual audits of hand-marked paper ballots are our best defense. So why are we turning to computerized scanners and digital images when the experts say we should be doing hand-counted audits of the paper ballots?

The convenience of letting a machine do the work of auditing with digital images is very seductive. Proponents will even argue that people are more error-prone than machines. The problem is that the public can’t oversee the software in a scanner as it computes votes. 

New Hampshire has a long, proud tradition of meticulous hand counts and recounts. The safeguards built into those can be utilized in audits and even strengthened to allow for maximum transparency and public oversight.

Here are concerns about the bill as written:

4. “I. The secretary of state shall randomly select one to 3 percent of AccuVote devices, but not less than 4 such devices, to be used at the 2022 state general election to be audited…. The selection of devices to be audited shall be non-public and made at least 2 weeks prior to the general election, after the AccuVote memory cards have been programed [sic]."  

 

The whole point of random audits is to make it impossible for *anyone* to know ahead of time which machines will be selected. Allowing the secretary of state to choose the machines in advance negates the protective effect of random selection.

4. "VI.  A random sample of not less than 5 percent of the ballots scanned shall be selected and the images of the ballots selected shall be compared with the voters' choices recorded for the ballot."

So this bill allows as little as 1 percent of the AccuVote machines, but not less than four, to be audited, and then as little as 5 percent of the ballots from those machines to have their images compared with "the voters' choices recorded for the ballot," presumably, the voters’ hand-marked paper ballots. If my husband, an engineer, is not mistaken, that works out to a rate of 0.05 percent of the AccuVote ballots, or 5 in 10,000 paper ballots that will be compared with the corresponding ballot images to try to establish that the digital images are accurate copies of the hand-marked ballots. Does anyone see that as sufficient to inspire confidence? In contrast, Massachusetts conducts hand-counted audits of the paper ballots in 3 percent of all precincts when the president is on the ballot.

Here's what Professors Andrew Appel and Philip Stark have to say about this:

"Audit the Digital Images?

"Some vendors are promoting systems that create digital images of ballots. These vendors claim that the images make RLAs easier to perform because fewer (or no) paper ballots need to be inspected. That is incorrect: if a risk-limiting audit relies on images of ballots, it must check that the error in making the images from the voter-verified paper ballots plus the error the system made interpreting those images to make cast-vote records is not large enough to cause the electoral outcome to be wrong. It is a mathematical fact that this requires examining at least as many physical ballots as an audit that compares CVRs to a human reading of the paper ballots, without relying on the digital images." [P. 537, https://georgetownlawtechreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/4.2-p523-541-Appel-Stark.pdf

In other words, as I understand it, an audit that relies on digital images of ballots requires examining at least as many corresponding paper ballots as a hand-counted audit of the paper ballots alone. Which begs the question, wouldn’t it be easier to just audit the paper ballots?

Professor J. Alex Halderman's research also demonstrates the risks of auditing digital images rather than paper ballots: 

"Abstract. As paper ballots and post-election audits gain increased adoption in the United States, election technology vendors are offering products that allow jurisdictions to review ballot images—digital scans produced by optical-scan voting machines—in their post-election audit procedures. Jurisdictions including the state of Maryland rely on such image audits as an alternative to inspecting the physical paper ballots. We show that image audits can be reliably defeated by an attacker who can run malicious code on the voting machines or election management system...." [https://jhalderm.com/pub/papers/unclear-evoteid19.pdf]

Please reject this cave-in to convenience and send a message that an audit requires the same high standard of proof that New Hampshire provides for recounts – nothing less. It must be hand-counted with ample public oversight.

Respectfully,

Barbara Glassman

Nashua, NH


January 25, 2022

Ranked-Choice Voting: A Conflict

 What the well-intentioned proponents of ranked-choice voting overlook is that it conflicts with a much more urgent and critical need for manual auditing to counter the threats of hacking, rigging, and the perception that the 2020 election was stolen. The complexity of ranked-choice voting would add to the already formidable resistance to hand-counted audits. 

A wealth of resources has been directed at ranked-choice voting. “The head of Voter Choice Massachusetts, Mac D’Alessandro, told The Intercept that his organization is receiving more than $1 million in matching funds from Unite America” in 2019. Unite America is “a once obscure political organization that raised its profile earlier this year [2019] when Kathryn Murdoch became its co-chair and largest donor; she’s a daughter-in-law of Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch.” https://theintercept.com/2019/10/07/murdoch-pennsylvania-gerrymandering-lobbyists/?fbclid=IwAR0qCfiNuMklRlawN5uKBAsEVsQhmZSEVXhiDfoFkG1f-tfGyNCVxJaKjJA


I’m not suggesting there is anything sinister in the injection of Murdoch money, apart from the fact that megadonors have way too much influence over our elections and everything else. I don't doubt that Kathryn Murdoch genuinely wanted to do good on the election front and wonder whether Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig helped convince her that ranked-choice voting is a top priority. 


I was a fan of Lessig for years; went to a couple of his New Hampshire rallies for campaign finance reform. He’s a brilliant man with an extraordinary passion for election reform. Not sure why he switched his focus from campaign finance reform to ranked-choice voting. Had he asked leading election integrity advocates, e.g., Verified Voting, for suggestions as to what is needed most, advocacy for mandatory manual audits would have come out ahead of ranked-choice voting. 


I’m not questioning anyone’s motives, but voters deserve to know all about the funding of ranked-choice voting campaigns.


I urge the advocates for RCV to read Jonathan Simon’s recent article, "The Real Steal: Electoral Forensics and the 2020 Election," as well as his book CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy: Election 2020 Edition. Everyone should watch KILL CHAIN: The Cyber War on American’s Elections, featuring Harri Hursti. 


All I ask is that ranked-choice voting be reserved for consideration AFTER post-election audits are well established. Meanwhile, I hope RCV proponents will read my plea for hand-counted audits and consider supporting that cause.


BTW, there are at least two other alternatives to the current system of plurality voting that are audit-friendly. Subsequent runoff elections to reach a majority of votes for the winning candidates are held in a number of states and European nations, including Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and France. And there’s Approval Voting https://www.electionscience.org/library/approval-voting/.


See also Brad Friedman: "Why Ranked Choice Voting Is a Terrible Idea" at https://bradblog.com/?p=12608: "it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost."


Little-known fact about ranked-choice voting: The RCV component of state and federal races and state party primaries will always have to be tabulated by the Secretary of State or some other state authority on their RCV-programmed central scanner. In NH, that would hold for RCV municipal elections also until local jurisdictions purchase new, RCV-capable machines, as I understand it. Even then, how would the votes for, say, Nashua Aldermen-at-Large be tabulated? By the SoS? Or maybe the city clerk?

How do we audit the SoS's results? While auditing a sample of local precincts would be necessary, it wouldn’t be sufficient without also auditing the tabulation of the ranked choices by the SoS’s scanner. I’ve started watching the video on RCV auditing by the RCV Resource Center. Every legislator who has a vote on RCV should watch at least a portion of the video to see what the challenges are. They look daunting, to say the least, especially from the perspective of a voter who wants to see hand-counted audits, as recommended by election security experts.

RCV's Achilles’ heel is the requirement for *instant* runoffs, which in practice necessitates computerization to reallocate losing candidates’ votes. Traditional runoffs, on the other hand, are tabulated just like any other election. Candidates with the lowest vote totals are simply eliminated after a round; their votes are not reallocated to surviving candidates. RCV advocates contend that its strength lies in exactly this capability to rank candidates. I do understand the appeal, but it comes at the unacceptable cost of local oversight, transparency, and auditability.

Barbara Glassman

Nashua, NH

January 13, 2022

In New Hampshire: A plea for hand-counted audits

In opposition to SB 366-FN re audits 

January 11, 2022


To the Honorable Members of the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee:


I write in opposition to SB 366-FN and ask Ms. Melillo to please add this to the legislative record. 

 

As I have written to Senator Gray in the past, I am opposed to the lack of transparency and public oversight and increased reliance on hackable, riggable computerized election machinery that using scanners and ballot images for audits embodies.


No true election security expert endorses using a scanner to perform an audit, even if it's a new make or model. Manual/hand-counted post-election audits have been recommended since 2009 by both the Secretary of State's own Electronic Ballot Counting Device Advisory Committee [formerly at http://sos.nh.gov/ballotcountdev.aspx] and the national League of Women Voters [https://sites.google.com/a/leagueofwomenvoters.org/clearinghouse/rep/election-administration/lwvus-report-on-election-auditing], as well as the experts who testified before the Kobach commission: Andrew Appel, Harri Hursti, and Ron Rivest. [https://youtu.be/XkPJbbKPJ_w]


Verified Voting, the premier body of election experts, is unequivocal: "Audits require human examination of voter-marked paper ballots... Audits cannot rely on scanned images or machine interpretations of the ballots to accurately reflect voter intent" (p. 7, Principles and Best Practices for… Audits). [P. 7, https://verifiedvoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Principles-and-Best-Practices-For-Post-Eleciton-Tabulation-Audits.pdf


Let us stop to ask, Why do audits in the first place? It's because election security experts know there are too many undetectable vulnerabilities with computerized voting, and manual audits of hand-marked paper ballots are our best defense. So why are we turning to computerized scanners and digital images when the experts say we should be doing hand-counted audits of the paper ballots?


The convenience of letting a machine do the work of auditing with digital images is very seductive. Proponents will even say you can't trust the people doing hand counts. New Hampshire has a long, proud tradition of meticulous manual recounts. The safeguards built into those recounts can be utilized in audits and even strengthened to allow for maximum transparency and public oversight.


Secretary Gardner chose not to follow the advice of his own hand-picked experts. With his departure, we now have the freedom to reassess.


If that does not happen, then here are concerns about the bill as written:


4."I.  The secretary of state shall randomly select one to 3 percent of AccuVote devices, but not less than 4 such devices, to be used at the 2022 state general election to be audited. … The selection of devices to be audited shall be non-public and made at least 2 weeks prior to the general election, after the AccuVote memory cards have been programed [sic]."  


The whole point of random audits is to make it impossible for anyone to know ahead of time which machines will be selected. Allowing the secretary of state to choose the machines in advance negates the protective effect of random selection. It is not random selection.


4. "VI.  A random sample of not less than 5 percent of the ballots scanned shall be selected and the images of the ballots selected shall be compared with the voters' choices recorded for the ballot."


So this bill allows as little as one percent of the AccuVote machines, but not less than four, to be audited, and then as little as 5 percent of the ballots from those machines to be selected for comparison with "the voters' choices recorded for the ballot." Does this refer to the hand-marked paper ballots? If my husband, an engineer, is not mistaken, that works out to a rate of 0.05 percent of the AccuVote ballots, or 5 in 10,000 paper ballots that will be compared with the corresponding ballot images to try to establish that the ballot images are accurate copies of the hand-marked ballots. Does anyone see that as sufficient to inspire confidence? In contrast, Massachusetts conducts hand-counted audits of the paper ballots in 3 percent of all precincts when the president is on the ballot.


Here's what Professors Andrew Appel and Philip Stark have to say about this:

"Audit the Digital Images?

"Some vendors are promoting systems that create digital images of ballots. These vendors claim that the images make RLAs easier to perform because fewer (or no) paper ballots need to be inspected. That is incorrect: if a risk-limiting audit relies on images of ballots, it must check that the error in making the images from the voter-verified paper ballots plus the error the system made interpreting those images to make cast-vote records is not large enough to cause the electoral outcome to be wrong. It is a mathematical fact that this requires examining at least as many physical ballots as an audit that compares CVRs to a human reading of the paper ballots, without relying on the digital images." [P. 537, https://georgetownlawtechreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/4.2-p523-541-Appel-Stark.pdf


In other words, an audit that relies on digital images of ballots requires examining at least as many corresponding paper ballots as a hand-counted audit of the paper ballots alone.


Professor J. Alex Halderman's research demonstrates the vulnerability of auditing digital images: 

"Abstract. As paper ballots and post-election audits gain increased adoption in the United States, election technology vendors are offering products that allow jurisdictions to review ballot images—digital scans produced by optical-scan voting machines—in their post-election audit procedures. Jurisdictions including the state of Maryland rely on such image audits as an alternative to inspecting the physical paper ballots. We show that image audits can be reliably defeated by an attacker who can run malicious code on the voting machines or election management system...." [https://jhalderm.com/pub/papers/unclear-evoteid19.pdf]


I sincerely hope you will take this opportunity to reenvision the path forward.


Respectfully,

Barbara Glassman

Nashua, NH

November 16, 2015

Term Limits: Why?

“Term limits are always popular until they find out, you know, who’s not term-limited: lobbyists. And guess who's in charge in every state legislature that has term limits in this country--the un-term-limited lobbyists are . . . term limits--I bought into it until I saw that happen.”
                                                                                 --Chuck Todd, 10/21/2016

Term limits are a natural expression of the right's government-bashing ideology. It serves them well to eject elected officials before they are experienced and secure enough to challenge the orthodoxy of entrenched special interests.

What motivates some of my allies on the left to embrace term limits? Are we willing to sacrifice the likes of Elijah Cummings, John Lewis, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, or Sheldon Whitehouse? We revere Elijah Cummings and John Lewis for their service. Term limits would have ended their careers years ago. What better way to discourage ordinary citizens from a career in public service than to preordain their firing?

Shouldn't we be countering the contempt for "career politicians" by asking how democracy can survive without them? How many working people--perhaps with families to support--can afford to interrupt their nonpolitical careers for only a limited period of public service? This country needs *more* career politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elijah Cummings, and John Lewis.

Here’s to a more targeted attack (Primary them!) on politicians who don’t serve the people. Those who do deserve our loyalty. And, as a reader noted, we already have term limits; they're called elections.

Try this thought experiment. Imagine saying to your favorite legislators, "Thanks for your service but... you're fired."

@BarbaraGlassman https://www.facebook.com/newhampshire.voter/

October 23, 2012

From Greg Palast: "While Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols has the heft and footnotes of an academic treatise, it's a fun read. Suggestion: take a double of Felipe II with you into this zoo of miscreants, and savor the dark humor of one method of vote heist after another. Here is the line-up of ballot burglars who think democracy is a safe to be cracked. Bless Marta Steele for setting off the burglar alarm."

October 06, 2012

Personal perspective on Israel and Palestine

From New Hampshire Peace Action: “Local residents to offer a personal perspective on Israel and Palestine: Carolyn Cicciu and Will Thomas, retired teachers, will share their personal stories and experiences following their travels to one of the most conflicted areas in the Middle East—Israel and Palestine, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Both traveled to the Middle East as members of Interfaith Peace-Builders….” More info. October 15, 2012, 6:30 p.m. Manchester City Library auditorium.

Russell Tribunal for Palestine



June 21, 2012

Elisa Massamino speaks on torture

Torture, the Constitution and Solitary Confinement: A Preview of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report
Elisa Massamino 
President/CEO, Human Rights First 
with expert panel that will make short statements on torture

Thursday, June 28, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

Sophia Lyon Fahs Auditorium
50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ

Sponsored by:
Princeton Area Interfaith Anti-Torture Group
Co-Sponsored by:
Coalition for Peace Action; National Religious Campaign Against Torture; American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey; Rabbis for Human Rights North America; Princeton Friends Monthly Meeting; Trenton Friends Monthly Meeting; 
Nassau Presbyterian Church; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton Social Justice Committee; Princeton University Office of Religious Life; All Saints Church; Hanan M. Isaacs, P.C.; and Princeton Community TV.

April 16, 2012

9th Annual Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation, Sun., April 29, 2012, 2-6 p.m.

Details at http://www.interfaithpeacewalk.org/.

Philadelphia Premiere of Najla Saïd's "Palestine"

Palestine
Written and performed by Najla Saïd
Rich, honest, and amusingly poignant, Palestine is a compassionate look at the Middle East from the unique perspective of Najla Saïd, a self-described politically agnostic Upper West Side Palestinian American princess (and the daughter of eminent scholar Edward Saïd), who traveled to the occupied territories to discover her deeper identity as an Arab American woman.
April 17, 18, and 19, 2012, at the InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia.

February 10, 2012

Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin

"Israeli activist Gershon Baskin on release of Gilad Shalit, peace prospects," Radio Times, WHYY/NPR, February 10, 2012.
A few days after Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted in 2005, Gershon Baskin got a phone call from a Palestinian professor and colleague asking for his help in negotiating the soldier's release. Gershon was put in touch with a spokesman for the Hamas government and for five years, as an intermediary between senior Hamas and Israeli officials, Baskin worked through back channels to broker a deal for Shalit's freedom in exchange for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Baskin is a member of Israeli's Green Movement Party, is the founder of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information and has been active in increasing understanding and promoting peaceful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. He has been involved in peace process as an outside advisor to Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and writes a column for the Jerusalem Post.

January 30, 2012

"Aim to promote human rights of the Palestinians."

By Ali Abunimah, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 29, 2012.
I am coming to the University of Pennsylvania this week to incite violence against the State of Israel - pro-Israel groups and commentators have contended - and, along with hundreds of students and other speakers who will attend the 2012 National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Conference, to engage in an "act of warfare."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, we are coming together to push forward an inclusive movement that supports nonviolent action to promote the human rights of the Palestinian people, because only full respect for these rights can lead to peace. Today, millions of Palestinians live without basic rights under Israeli rule. This intolerable situation is at the root of problems that affect the whole world. . . . [continued]

December 27, 2011

"Muslim author carries a universal message"

Intelligencer editorial, December 27, 2011:
Muslim author carries a universal message

Lisa Abdelsalam was born in Lansdale, graduated from North Penn High School and became an author. She was scheduled to talk about her writing and publishing experiences to several classes at A.M. Kulp Elementary School in Hatfield earlier this month. She’s made such visits to other schools in the North Penn School District.

Her latest visit was canceled, however, when a few parents objected to her program and threatened to bring in an outside group to protest.

The principal at the school, Erik Huebner, told Abdelsalam she was welcome just the same. But in order to spare the young students from what might have been an unpleasant scene, the two of them decided it would be better if she didn’t come.

And perhaps prejudice claimed yet another victim.

October 26, 2011

Glenn Greenwald's new book released

Buy Glenn Greenwald's new book: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Here's what he says about it in Salon tonight:
The book focuses on what I began realizing several years ago is the crucial theme tying together most of the topics I write about: America’s two-tiered justice system – specifically, the way political and financial elites are now vested with virtually absolute immunity from the rule of law even when they are caught committing egregious crimes, while ordinary Americans are subjected to the world’s largest and one of its harshest and most merciless penal states even for trivial offenses. As a result, law has been completely perverted from what it was intended to be – the guarantor of an equal playing field which would legitimize outcome inequalities – into its precise antithesis: a weapon used by the most powerful to protect their ill-gotten gains, strengthen their unearned prerogatives, and ensure ever-expanding opportunity inequality. . . .

October 14, 2011

Mosque invites public

"Lower Makefield: Mosque invites public to discussion of Islamic holy days"
By Joan Hellyer, Bucks County Courier Times, October 14, 2011
Members of the Zubaida Foundation are inviting people of all backgrounds to their mosque in Lower Makefield on Sunday afternoon to examine and discuss what is common between religious faiths, an organizer said.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the same roots in Abraham, said Brother Mohammed Husain, a foundation member and organizer of the free event, which includes a discussion and lunch.

The ties to Abraham will serve as a focal point, he said.

“If you want people to understand each other, you have to explore what is common between them,” Husain said. “We have to sit down at the same table to get to know each other and then maybe some of the stereotypes will go away. We will be in a little better condition and maybe we will be able to trust each other.”

September 20, 2011

Letter to the Editor of the Intelligencer, 9/21/11

To the Editor:

Nothing has brought me closer to canceling our subscription to the Intelligencer than reading the venomous, error-filled hate speech you chose to publish entitled "No guilty feelings for treatment of Muslims." What were you thinking? You owe the Muslim community and your readers an apology.

Barbara Glassman

July 19, 2011

Palestine and the Arab Spring

Philly Against War forum with Vijay Prashad
Saturday, July 23, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Tabernacle Church, 3700 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
FLYER (location subject to change)

Dr. Prashad will speak about Palestine and how it relates to the revolutions in North Africa and across the Arab world.
Dr. Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT; author most recently of The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World; regular featured guest on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.