November 21, 2006
Perhaps the worst election reform bill ever
Washington's county election officials are proposing this bill to the state legislature: "Providing for privacy protection for certain voter registration information".
The bill would exempt voter birthdates from public disclosure and also prohibit the copying of voter signatures on mail ballot envelopes. But all of this information is indispensible for election integrity. Birthdates are necessary for the public to identify duplicate registrations and to perform research to challenge an improperly registered voter. Ballot envelope signatures are essential for informing the public about serious flaws in the system -- double voting, fraudulent voting and unreliability of signature verification.
The bill might have been motivated by a (misguided) notion of protecting privacy. But the main effect would be to help election officials cover up their own errors and incompetence and to undermine election integrity.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 21, 2006
11:28 AM | Email This
1. With democrats in power for both houses (and super majority at that) and governer, this will breeze through. It's just hopeless.
2. Stefan the link to bill doesn't work
3. Victor, thanks for letting me know. Should be fixed now.
Maybe you don't care about privacy, but there are those of us who do.
Identity theft requires a couple of pieces of key information. By making Birthdates and signature available to the general public, the state is enabling identity theft. Birthdate is one of the common Privacy Act elements that has to be protected.
I am suprised that the State/Counties haven't already been sued over this. This is untollerable, but I guess you don't care if you live in a world where your individual freedoms are being taken away right and left.
It isn't up to Joe Public to perform election integrity checks. The information should only be available to independent auditing organizations that have established privacy laws that protect this information. This would accomplish the same openness and review of elections that you desire and protect the individual's privacy that is so needed.
"tc", you are wrong. It is up to Joe Public to perform election integrity checks. That's how the system works.
Birthdate alone should not be sufficient for identity theft. (and it should be illegal to extend credit without additional information, if it isn't already). As far as signature goes, I would prefer that it not be used as a voting security method, period.
Remember who has tried to prevent the need for public sharing of personal data. The move to all-mail voting is the catalyst that has made the revealing of this personal information necessary to preserve the validity of our elections process.
This is the trade-off when ballots can be cast by mail and proof has to be available and made public to verify that ballots are valid and should be counted. Anytime the left wants to return to visual validation of ID at the polling places, proof of identification at the polling places and signing of the poll book at the polling places, then we won't need the personal information to verify that an envelope that arrives at a counting facility actually was mailed and signed by the registered voter.
Not up to Joe Public to audit their government? Why don't you just hand the keys to your house to Ron Sims or Queen Christine and invite them to take whatever they want? If the public cannot trust the elections process being forced upon us by this government, we might as well just elevate politicians to dictators and just bend over and take it.
As for "independent auditing," there is no such thing. The only independent audits are those conducted by persons outside government with only the protection of their rights and their wallets to motivate them.
What a dark age we are passing into.
The Dems have aborted all their future constituents and so they move the bar to exempt themselves from real elections. ACORN will just send in hundreds of thousands of registrations and fill out the ballots by the truckload.
This privacy is only for the protection of Dems and their power.
Coming soon massive taxes for the kids that were not aborted, Teachers that get paid more to produce college brownshirts, massive land grabs, the shut down of this blog, the transmitter pulled at KVI and the PI getting a full subsidy to stay open. The end of bedrock marriage, electric cars only, tofu only!!
Shheeeeeze I though they might propose a bill requiring accuracy in elections not fraud covering measures. Crazy.
Stefan and others,
RE: Independent auditing
You can easily have an outside independent audit of an election. It could be set up for a private firm, even to conduct. The biggest requirement is that voter information be under Privacy Laws and not released to general public. All a public agency (like county) would need to do is approve the auditing firm. The auditing firm would need to demonstrate that it has done background checks on the auditors. The auditors would need to be liable for any release of privacy information.
A whole new professional auditing arm that experienced in looking for voter fraud could arise. It would spur private industry and at the same time guarantee better review of elections.
Joe Public doesn't have the experience to know what to look for (in contrast to professional auditors). Also, not all of Joe Public can be trusted with the information.
For those who don't think Birthday is a big deal, just think of what the main questions are a bank asks when verifying identity: Name, Address, Phone, Account Number, Birthday, and mother's maiden name. Now how hard is it to find this information? It gets a whole lot easier with the Counties publishing Birthdates. With birthdate, one can go back in county records and determine, birth place and most likely mother's maiden name (if one didn't know the individual already). You are not thinking like "crackers" here. It is the aggregate of information that is publically available that is the problem with identity theft.
This actually is not as vital as Birthdate, because it just isn't needed much nowdays. Plus, the signature for voter record may not be the same as one uses for signing other documents, such as checks. Most identity theft doesn't deal with checks. They take too long. It is access to account numbers and bank verification information.
tc, can you name one incident where public voter information has resulted in a case of identity theft? Just one. This law is protecting information without proof that there is a problem. It's a straw man law.
And there are members of Joe Public (Stefan being one) who know what to look for in voter records to determine if there is fraud happening.
tc tells us: "Joe Public doesn't have the experience to know what to look for (in contrast to professional auditors)."
He has far more faith in professional auditors, like the ones who benignly waved Enron forward with a clean bill of health as they self-destructed. Lord help us if our government is run by such travesties.
As it is, one reason for this bill is likely a Ron Sims attempt to prevent any repetition of Stefan Sharkansky's formidable exploits of learning the King County Election ropes, clearly identifying the mis- and malfeasance of vote handling by King County Elections minions, and presenting clear evidence of such travesties by photographic examples, day after day on this blog.
The arrogance of tc's 'public is too dumb' approach was matched in those days by our local papers, which went out of their way to ignore that evidence - because Stefan wasn't a 'journalist'. They wouldn't believe what their eyes would have told them, if they'd taken a look.
Have faith, says tc, we can trust some unelected bureaucracy with a stick-on label of 'independent auditor'. Appointed by our one-party County gummint, no doubt. But whether or not it's blessed by the Pope or Karl Marx or the Sierra Club (your deity of choice here), if we're to keep our democracy we need transparent processes and citizen involvement at all levels, particularly the mechanics of issuing and manipulating and counting of ballots. Not everyone is as dumb as tc, and there are plenty of public-spirited smart people who can read the regulations, inspect the processes and keep a gimlet eye on the one-party Elections Department. They'll be needed desperately in future elections.
"A whole new professional auditing arm that experienced in looking for voter fraud could arise. It would spur private industry and at the same time guarantee better review of elections."
Sounds like a job for Arthur Andersen.
What? When did they close shop? You're kidding.
We need a protest in front of the capital when this bill is in committee and being worked on, so that the media knows full well that this is another atempt to hide the errors of government officials.
I do hope that you (Stefan) are planning on testifying against this stupid bill. We need more transparancy in government - not less.
13. Maybe what we need is to be liberated. After liberation the Iraqi folks got a purple finger when they voted. Pretty simple way to keep duplicate votes out of the system if you ask me.
14. There is one solution to not having your signature on file with the county, VOTE AT THE POLLS! Especially when King Co. Records & Selections drops their pro-choice model, and forces some of us that will NEVER vote by mail to go to some crowded, understaffed center such that our vote is assured to count.
15. Vince @13
Very true, but only if we go back to voting at the polls...
Though I don't share your priorities, I take your concerns with voter fraud seriously. It does happen and it shouldn't.
For those concerned with privacy, I'm sorry, but there's no going back. We have no privacy. Even without the birthdays in the database, it's trivial to uniquely identify people. Companies like ChoicePoint and Lexis/Nexus (formerly Seisent) have nearly everything about nearly everyone on file.
I believe the reasons the state of the art techniques aren't being used for applications like the DMV and state-wide voter registration databases are expense and awareness.
To reiterate, I'm sorry everyone, but you lost your privacy a long time ago. Whether or not the birthdays are included in our VRDB is utterly moot.