Secret vote-counting in Travis County, Texas!

MEDIA ADVISORY

10/19/10

For Immediate Release

Travis County Clerk Railroads Voting Study that continues

Secret Vote Counting until 2013!
VOTERS GO TO COMMISSIONER’S COURT TO PROTEST BOGUS REPORT

Austin, TX –


When: Tuesday, October 19th, 2010, 10:00 a.m.

Where: Travis County Commissioners Court, 314 W. 11th St., Austin TX, 78701 (11th & Guadalupe)

Who: Members of the Hand Count Coalition and Travis County voters in protest of continued secret vote counting recommendation by Travis County Clerk to the Travis County Commissioners Court

Tuesday morning, Oct. 19, at 10:00 a.m., Travis County voters will hear the County Clerk, Dana DeBeauvoir, recommend to the County Commissioners Court the continued use of fraudulent, insecure, trade-secret protected, unconstitutional, computerized voting systems for yet another three years in Travis County, which will effectively preserve secret vote counting, the hallmark of these and all voting machines. The Clerk will present this recommendation on behalf of the 2009 Travis County Election Study Group, a “stacked deck” group of 45 that met monthly for 8 sessions last year and once last week to supposedly evaluate current and possible future voting systems for Travis County in order to “ensure that Travis County voters have an accurate, fair, secure, transparent to the public, accessible voting system”.

Not surprisingly, in the Study Group’s long delayed final meeting on October 13, 2010, the Clerk presented only two recommendations for brief discussion and then a vote was taken in just over 30 minutes total time. And what option did the Clerk vehemently reject for group discussion? Allowing Travis County voters to vote on paper ballots on Election Day if desired and to have the ballots counted in full public view at the precinct.

The only criteria from the group’s mission statement above that the current voting machines in Travis County meet is that they are accessible. Otherwise, they are not accurate because the count is done secretly inside the machine so there is no way to know if they are; it is unfair to count ballots out of the public’s view; the machines have been proven to be vastly insecure and have been taken out of service in numerous states; and their casting and tabulating functions are totally non-transparent, i.e., invisible, to the public. One out of five is a horrendous score, but it seems to satisfy the County Clerk. The voters will tell the Court to reject the Clerk’s bogus recommendation and reconvene a truly independent and unbiased study.

A growing coalition of concerned citizen groups, called the Hand Count Coalition, has been telling the Court for months that the election study group was a total sham and that the recommendations in the group’s official report were railroaded by the County Clerk, the group’s leader, whose very appointment amounted to asking a bank to audit itself. In addition, 42 of the 45 members of the group were handpicked by the Clerk and were her longtime friends or her colleagues in county government. Additionally, most of her selected members were participants representing only themselves as individuals, not constituent groups of voters. A “Report of Alternate Findings and Recommendations” written by several coalition member groups who participated on the study group can be read here .

The HCC has tried to get on the Court’s agenda for a public hearing since late August to discuss the failures of the study group in time to get the Court to make critical changes before the November elections. The County Judge and four Commissioners decided instead to “run out the clock” and denied any public discussion on these matters until Early Voting started and Election Day was only weeks away. The Court’s unresponsiveness clearly illustrates the total absence of a sense of accountability to the people they are to serve. How are unresponsive public servants removed from office? At the voting booth, supposedly. But what if the citizens’ votes are not being counted as cast? This is the primary concern of Travis County voters.

The coalition has been demanding that the Commissioners Court give Travis County voters the option of a paper ballot on Election Day and conduct a pilot hand count project at selected polling places to gain important data about the hand-counted paper ballot voting system, a system perfectly legal in Texas and still used in dozens of Texas counties. Since the Court ignored their demands, the Hand Count Coalition is conducting it’s own pilot hand count this November 2nd. For more information about the pilot, go to www.handcountcoalition.blogspot.com.

Last March, the German Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to count the votes with voting machines since the public cannot know for certain that their votes are counted as cast because the counting is performed out of sight, inside the machine’s computer. When will the United States match the democratic standards of German elections?

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