Dear BWNJ Activists,
As you may be aware, our current voting machines have no "paper trail". The Sequoia AVC Advantage Machines are 1980 vintage computer technology and produce no record of each ballot.
The good news is that all the counties are about to buy new machines since our current machines are aging out. The bad news is that there is no transparency to this purchase.
Right now, it seems that most counties are favoring a machine that will print a 3" wide 'receipt' of the voters’ choices as marked by the voter on a touch screen. This receipt will be used for audits of each election, and any recounts. This is an improvement, to be sure, and as voting activists, we welcome the addition of a paper trail.
However, this is not the system recommended by security experts. The machines that print a voter 'receipt' can be hacked, and half of voters, in a trial at a real polling place, did not check the paper receipt, while the half that did, checked theirs’ for an average of 3.9 seconds on an 18-contest ballot. (See summary of the study here) In addition, this system is more expensive.
The system recommended by security experts is a hand-marked paper ballot counted by an optical scanner at the polling place. The hand-marked ballots are kept in a tamper proof box for later auditing and they are the ballot of record.
This is an area where local level political activism can make a difference.
We ask that you reach out to the Bergen County Superintendent of Elections Patricia DiConstanzo firstname.lastname@example.org and your Freeholder Chairwoman Germaine M. Ortiz email@example.com and email your message that the selection of new voting equipment should be open, transparent, represent best practices in the industry, and involve citizen voter input.
Our suggested email message is below. Please feel free to add or edit it.
As a voter in Bergen County, I look forward to the replacement of our old, nonsecure electronic voting machines that have no paper record of each citizen's vote. I think that such an important investment by our county should be open and transparent and our county government should actively solicit the opinions of the voters.
I am concerned about two things: First the security of our vote, and second, the cost to the taxpayers.
Security experts, who aren’t in the employ of voting machine manufacturers, agree that hand-marked paper ballots with an optical scan counter at the polling place are the most secure. Hand-marked paper ballots also appear to be the most economical system, as fewer machines are required since all the ballot marking is done without using the voting machine and the equipment is only required for counting. In addition, at each polling place, a ballot auto marking device should be available for the disabled.
I urge you to choose the most secure and cost-efficient system for voting in Bergen County.
Thank you for sending your message!! Your voice matters in this important piece to protect our democracy. Please also let us know if you sent an email to the Superintendent of Elections and to the Freeholder Chairwoman at this address firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will be key when activists meet with Bergen County Election Officials and Freeholders.
Thanks for all you do!
Marcia Marley, President BlueWaveNJ
Mark Lurinsky, BWNJ Electoral Reform Group
Ann Rea, BWNJ Electoral Reform Group