The Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition


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Studies, Reports and Letters:

The MDERC report Get It Right The First Time (Read , Appendices), immediately buzzed all
around the state and the country. Members testified on its contents and hand delivered it to
Miami-Dade County, the Florida Division of Elections in Tallahassee, the US Senate Rules Committee
in Washington DC, and the Election Assistance Commission’s hearings on their Voluntary Voting System Guidelines, in New York City.

More Studies, Reports and Letters:

ACCURATE (Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Auditable, and Transparent Elections) public comments on the 2005 Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines. (Read)

MDERC Comments to the United States Election Assistance Commission
regarding their proposed Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) – Sept 2005 (Read)

A new MDERC study finds that the Florida election law passed in 2005 will put Black and Hispanic voters in a worse position than they were in under the previous laws. Read our letter to the Department of Justice, commenting (Read) on their review of the Florida legislation.

MDERC Statement
for the United States Senate /  Committee on Rules and Administration

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, Chair, Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition
Bobbie Brinegar, D.C. Director, Miami- Dade Election Reform Coalition

Thank you for the opportunity to submit material for the record on this critically important topic. Few tasks in a democracy are as important as ensuring public confidence in the outcome of elections. (Read)

Supervisor of Elections
of Miami-Dade: I
nitial analysis of the desirability and feasibility of converting to an optical scan election system. (Read)

Supervisor of Elections
of Miami-Dade: I
nitial analysis of the desirability and feasibility of converting to an optical scan election system. (Read)

Letter from the MDERC Chair to the Pres. of the Verified Voting Foundation:

Dear Will,

The poll closing observation project, as well as the attached report, was made possible by the generous grant from the Verified Voting Foundation.  We titled the report "GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME - Poll Closing Observation, Ballot Accounting, and Electronic Voting Security".

As you will see from the report, our volunteers observed a total of 88 separate poll closings on election day, as well as at least 57 separate early voting closings and several early voting poll openings in 18 of the 20 early voting sites in Miami-Dade County.  The observation effort was coordinated by our two paid interns (hired with a portion of the grant money) and lead by our Government Relations Chair, Dan McCrea.  All of the observers, however, were volunteers who donated their time not just at the time of the observation, but also for a training session that lasted several hours. 

The work of the volunteer monitors and observers was supplemented by the work of volunteer researchers who reviewed thousands of pages of public documents, including all of the "Certificate No.2" documents which are supposed to record information regarding the number of signatures of voters who signed in to vote in each precinct (information regarding the number signatures is the most accurate record of the number of voters who actually showed up to vote at a particular precinct).  In addition, the volunteer researches, led by Prof. Martha Mahoney of the University of Miami Law School and Barbara Brandon who is the law school's research librarian, also reviewed audit records produced by the voting machines, as well as other data available from the November 2004 election and other earlier elections. 

We believe that the project and the report are ground breaking in several respects.  First, they represent a victory for the concept of non-partisan civic participation in the most basic functioning of our democracy.  In short, the tireless, dedicated and focused work of our volunteers demonstrates that common, every-day citizens have an important role to play in election system reform and through their public participation and basic monitoring, can assist in uncovering problems in the system.

We are also proud of the innovative approach of our project. The project brought a new awareness to the poll closing and vote tabulation process and combined first hand observation with document research.  Moreover, as detailed in the report, the project's methodology has been clearly established and set forth so that it can be replicated by, and serve as a model for, other communities.

The Report is especially important not just for Miami-Dade County, but for the nation as a whole, because it details a clear instance of electronic ballot stuffing in the November 2004 election. This instance of electronic ballot stuffing, which is well-documented in the report, points to a flaw in the direct recording electronic voting machines used in Miami-Dade County - a flaw that the vendor, ES&S, had previously claimed had never affected and would never effect actual elections. 

The discovery of the flaw at work and the resulting ballot stuffing should sound the alarm across the country because it proves the repeated assertion by electronic security experts that DRE technology cannot be trusted to ensure that all of the votes are accurately recorded and counted.  Moreover, as set forth in the report, the electronic ballot stuffing went undetected and the election was certified with 171 votes that we know did not belong in the canvass because they were the product of the ballot stuffing.  The failure to detect the "ghost" votes is another important discovery and points to a serious problem of the lack of a workable system to audit the totals before certification.  In this respect, Prof. Mahoney has taught our coalition that the findings of the report can be summarized with one basic mantra: "count, compare, investigate and report." These are the basics of getting the vote count RIGHT the first time.

In closing, I speak on behalf of the entire coalition when I say that we are extremely proud of our report and we are grateful to the Foundation for having faith in this project and in our work.  We hope that you and the Foundation are equally proud to know that the Foundation's generosity made possible what we believe is the most innovative and important grassroots election system reform project that has ever been undertaken in our community.

Thank you again. Please let us know what you think of the report.

Warmest regards,
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff
Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition


Posted on Sat, Apr. 09, 2005:
Floridians deserve a flawless voting system

We are disappointed that Constance Kaplan, former Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections is taking the full blame for the failure of an inherently flawed election system. In June 2004, the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition called on Gov. Bush to order independent audits of Florida's voting systems to determine whether they work properly. This would help increase voter confidence and show that state officials are doing everything possible to protect voters' rights.

The governor's response was that it was our goal ''to undermine voter confidence.'' The office of Secretary of State Glenda Hood followed with its statement that Florida has the most rigorous certification process in the country.

The proof of this flawed system has now been made clear with Kaplan's admission that these machines are capable of being programmed to erase votes. Her statement that these ''glitches'' did not affect the outcome of the vote misses the point. Miami-Dade voters deserve a system that is reliable and accurate. They should not be forced to settle for a defective, problem-prone system that cost millions of dollars and was obsolete before it was delivered.

Miami-Dade's legislative delegation must use this opportunity to lead the state. It must remind the state that we are not the only county in Florida with an ES&S voting system. It also needs to demand that Bush, Hood and the Legislature pass a bill requiring a voter-verified paper record and routine auditing of the state's 67 election systems.

The Legislature must enforce article 10 of the Voters Bill of Rights, which states that the voter has the right to ``vote on a voting system that is in working condition and that will allow votes to be accurately cast.''

SANDY WAYLAND, legislative chair,
Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, Miami

Draft of 2005 Leg Bill (Download)

MDERC position paper on the 2005 Leg Bill (Download)

Read the MDERC Letter to Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Advancement Project's revised version of Legal Guide to Fair Elections in Florida
was published July 6, 2004. Read (2.4 MB)

Florida Legal Guide to Fair Elections
was published by the June 2004. Read

Read Recommendations for the Conduct of Elections in Miami-Dade County using the ES&S iVotronic System by Dough Jones

Read letter dated April 19, 2004 from MDERC member ACLU, Greater Miami Chapter, asking the Elections Subcommittee of the Miami-Dade County Commission, to retain outside, independent experts to review whether the ES&S DREs have the capacity to produce adequate & accurate audits of the votes cast on each machine and whether the ES&S DREs have the capacity to produce an adequate and accurate audit of the machines prior to the certification deadline set by state law.

April 19, 2004 -
Members of the MDERC, led by Prof. Martha Mahoney, of the University of Miami School of Law, testified before the Elections Subcommittee of the Miami-Dade County Commission, to express their concerns about the possibility of what MDERC sees as serious systemic problems with the DREs purchased by Miami-Dade County.  The MDERC's testimony focused on the concerns raised by an internal County document which disclosed that the County had serious problems with the audit logs and vote records of an election that took place in May of 2003.  The MDERC's Bobbie Brinegar, President of the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade also testified at the hearing regarding concerns over continued problems with the DREs used by disabled voters.  As a result of the questions raised by the MDERC's the Elections Subcommittee agreed to present a resolution before the entire County Commission to create a task force comprised of outside computer experts and others, to look into the serious questions addressed by the MDERC.

March 31, 2004, Prof. Martha Mahoney testified before the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee, speaking against Proposed Rule 1S-2.031 and also criticizing Section 30 on Page 44 of Senate Bill SB3004 which states in part that "a manual recount may not be conducted of undervotes on touchscreen machines." (Read MDERC Comments on Proposed Rule 1S-2.031 and Secretary of State Glenda Hood's response)

Read Senate Bill SB3004 proposed by Chair of the Senate Ethics & Elections Committee

Read Letter to Supervisor of Elections, Constance Kaplan
February 26, 2004

Read Letter from MDERC to Miami-Dade County Manager Burgess Re: Resolution #R-994-03 – 120 day study to implement voter-verified paper record mechanism for DRE’s December 12, 2003 (Read previous letter sent October 27, 2003)

Department of Justice asks The Reform Coalition
for input on the HAVA ("Help America Vote Act"). Pre-clearance letter sent

The MDERC's statement hand-delivered to the Congressional Black Caucus
. Sept 26, 2003. Read

Inspector General Final Report on the Miami-Dade Voting Systems Contract.
May 20, 2003 Short

Critique to widely-circulated document from the Election Center that attempts to defend the security and reliability of DRE voting systems (Direct Recording Electronic, often referred to as touchscreen systems) written by insider David Jefferson May 9, 2003

Voter Verification Newsletter Vol 1, Number 1
was published by Stanford University May 7, 2003. more...

Letter from the Reform Coalition to the County Board of Commissioners April 29, 2003. more...

Office of County Manager Steve Shiver publishes its Post-Election Report.
Download it here.

The Coalition's Post-Election Report
(full report: PDF HTML - short version: PDF HTML)
"...the success of the November 5th election must therefore be judged against the needless and thoughtless exigency created by those at the County who apparently chose to put off meaningful reforms while limiting their efforts to spending tax payer monies on unproven and complex technology," wrote Coalition members in the report. "In this respect, as this county attempts to create a model for conducting future elections, it needs to differentiate between reforms that are nothing more than successful damage control driven by bad technology and the neglect of voting officials, and those that represent meaningful and productive change."
The Coalition's Recommendations

To fix our election process, here is

The Magic Phrase 

“Voter-verified paper record of every ballot cast”

 Here’s why it’s so important…(more...)

December 5, 2002
Meeting with State Attorney assistants Ed Griffith and Chad Lackey to discuss proposals to the Jeb Bush election reform task force. Read Letter

November 25, 2002
Release of the Reform Coalition's Post-Election Report.

October 29, 2002

October 28, 2002

October 14, 2002
Voting Reforms in Miami-Dade announced:
1. Expansion of early voting sites to 14.
2. All sites open on Saturdays.
3. Early voting opportunities available two weeks prior to Election Day.
4. Early voting sites open from 7am – 7pm.
5. Back up paper ballots (equal to 25% of registered voters per precinct) will be available in case of voting machine failure or power outgage.
6. Sample ballots to be mailed to approximately 867,000 households in Miami-Dade County.
7. Sample ballots also include a “Frequently Asked Questions” guide produced by the League of Women Voters and the ACLU.
8. County to send sample ballot and League of Women Voters of Dade
County-ACLU guide in three languages.
9. Reforms be institutionalized for future elections in Miami-Dade County.

October, 2002
"Make Your Vote Count!" pamphlets in English, Spanish, and Creole
were created by League of Women Voters of Dade County and the ACLU
Note: It is the text of these that was adapted for the "frequently asked questions" that were in the sample ballots that were mailed to registered voters in Miami-Dade.

October 4, 2002
Letter to County Manager Steve Shiver

September 20, 2002
Initial Letter from the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition to the Supervisor of Elections David Leahy with Voting Reforms Demands


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