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.

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"

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.

May 16, 2011

Letter to the Editor re torture debate

That there is a torture debate in this country to be revived by bin Laden's killing is itself a measure of how far we have strayed from the wisdom and values of our founders. But the Cheneys must be answered.

Is it any wonder that the Pakistanis would hesitate to subject bin Laden's widows to a nation that has abused, tortured and indefinitely detained even those it knew to be innocent of any connection to terror? Should we be surprised that other countries would refrain from sharing intelligence with us? Should we expect people with knowledge of possible plots to come forward and tell us what they know when there is the possibility of their ending up at Guantanamo? How much sooner would we have learned the real name of bin Laden's courier if we were not known for our cruelty to detainees?

June is Torture Awareness Month. It's never too early to raise these issues.

Barbara Glassman

April 06, 2011

Grieving Palestinians & Israelis work for peace

On Radio Times, WHYY/NPR, April 6, 2011:
The Parents Circle – Families Forum is an organization of bereaved families on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle who are becoming a powerful force for peace there. Ali Abu Awwad is a Palestinian nonviolence activist who knows about loss: shot in the leg by an Israeli settler, he returned from a lengthy treatment to find that his brother Yusef had been killed by an Israeli soldier. So too has the life of Yuval Rahamim been touched by tragedy: His father was killed fighting for Israel in 1967’s Six Day War, and his desire for revenge led him up the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces, until his subsequent life and family convinced him that the tragedies, killings, and hate on both sides must stop and that he needed to play an active role in it. Together they are part of a group of 500 Israeli and Palestinian families who have lost close family members and who work together for reconciliation and a just resolution to the conflict. They spoke at Villanova yesterday on a Catholic Relief Services-sponsored tour, and they're our guests today in our studio.