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A Petition for Verified Elections in Iowa

Dear Members of the Iowa General Assembly:

Computer scientists have identified significant vulnerabilities in the electronic systems Iowa uses to count votes. These include problems specific to machines produced by individual voting machine companies, and weaknesses inherent to all computer systems. Scientists have become progressively more concerned the more they learn about our present voting technology.

This year the Brennan Center for Justice issued a detailed report, The Machinery of Democracy, that described the vulnerabilities of current voting systems and the measures that officials should take to secure them.

The Brennan Center task force members included Professor Douglas Jones of the University of Iowa, Dr. David Jefferson of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Howard Schmidt, former chief security officer of the Microsoft Corporation and former cyber security adviser to President George W. Bush. The report calls for voter-verified paper records as a check on the accuracy of computer vote counts, accompanied by systematic hand audits of the paper records. Without routine hand audits, the Brennan Center report states, voter-verified paper records are of questionable security value.

We believe that the Iowa General Assembly should return to all Iowa elections the most easily audited form of voter-verified paper record: the paper ballot. The Assembly should also take further measures to secure the integrity and transparency of our elections.

We call for you, the Members of the General Assembly, to pass legislation that would:

Mandate that voting systems used in elections covered by the Election Code shall use a paper ballot on which the voter physically or electronically marks the voter's choices on the ballot itself. For disabled voters, legislation should provide that ballot-marking devices or vote-by-phone systems meeting the requirements of the Help America Vote Act be available in all precincts.

Require hand-count audits of ballots in randomly chosen precincts in each county. The audit should be part of the countys canvass of votes. Precincts should be selected for the hand-count audit in an observably random manner at the locations where ballots are stored, and the audits should begin as soon as the precincts are selected.

Require that all software in voting systems and tabulation systems be made available for public inspection and review.

Prohibit wireless communications devices in voting systems and the connection of any voting system or tabulation system to the Internet, and also prohibit the delivery of precinct voting system results via a computer connection to the voting system.

Require a chain of custody of election records consistent with the recommendations of the Brennan Center report, including video surveillance of ballot storage facilities.

Require routine audits of randomly selected county election offices following each election that includes a statewide contest. The audit should be conducted by an equally bipartisan board, and evaluate the county office's conformity to the Election Code and to best practices.

Create a state panel of computer experts to conduct meaningful testing and review of voting system and tabulation system software. Iowas current Board of Voting Machine Examiners consists only of three people: two county auditors and one person with some knowledge of computer technology.

Ban the practice of ballot programming (the configuring of voting machines for a specific election) by voting machine companies, and offer state assistance to counties that lack the resources to do their own ballot programming. Ballot definition files should be available for inspection by any citizen or representative of a party or candidate.

Iowas election laws have long been a model of rigor and fairness. It is time for the General Assembly to bring them up to date in the electronic age.


Iowans for Voting Integrity
Working for Voting Systems Worthy of the Public Trust
www.iowansforvotingintegrity.org

The Brennan Center report is available at:
http://www.brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_36343.pdf



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Brandi EdwardsBy:
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The Members of the 82nd Iowa General Assembly

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