FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        Contact:  Ron Bandes

August 10, 2017                                                                                               [voter@VoteAllegheny.org]





PITTSBURGH, PA. The petition drive for a referendum on legislation intended to provide for verifiable elections in Allegheny County has ended. Dr. Michelle Zuckerman-Parker’s organization, Don’t Tread on My Vote, led a coalition of organizations in collecting signatures to meet the required 17,800 voters registered in Allegheny County signing. The coalition includes organizations such as The League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh, the Black Political Empowerment Project, the John Welch campaign, VoteAllegheny, and OpenPittsburgh.org.

The petition drive was a true grassroots effort. No seasoned campaign managers or organizers were involved. No professional petition circulators were involved. From top to bottom, this was driven by citizens who care deeply that in this county we don’t have verifiable elections, while elsewhere in the Commonwealth some counties do.

A verifiable election has tangible evidence of the ballot choices made by the voters as a whole, while maintaining the secrecy of individual voters. This evidence must be verified by the voters before they cast their ballots. Our current system has no such evidence. A verifiable election must have voter-verified evidence that can be used in a recount. When 300 county voters in 31 precincts signed affidavits demanding recounts in their precincts, and the courts agreed that requirements to make those demands had been met, the county could only provide a “recanvass,” not a recount, because there is nothing to recount. In a close election, we can only ask our voting computers, “what was that count again?” It is impossible to verify that our voting computers correctly interpreted, stored, and counted voters’ choices as they were intended.

In Ohio, when the Secretary of State asked experts to examine ES&S iVotronic voting computers in 2007 – the same model we use in Allegheny County – serious flaws were uncovered that have not been corrected in Pennsylvania ten years later (see Chapter 6, “ES&S Systemic and Architectural Issues” of “EVEREST: Evaluation and Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards and Testing,” 12/7/2007). 

More than 6,300 registered voters in Allegheny County signed the petitions. Often, when a petition circulator was asking one person for a signature, nearby people who overheard the conversation piped up “I want to sign, too!” Most people already understood the need for evidence-based elections. People volunteered to be petition circulators just because they read about the campaign in social media, or saw the advertisement in the newspaper. While the referendum campaign fell short of the required number of signatures for the ordinance to appear on the ballot in November, thousands of citizens made themselves heard.

Regardless whether the matter appears before voters, Allegheny County Council could take up the matter. We have fifteen County Councilors, two at-large and thirteen by district, and we will be lobbying them to pass the legislation, or any legislation that substantially provides for respected and heeded input from professionals and experts in voting and in computer security, accessibility, recountability, and auditability. There are many reports from and articles about experts linked on VoteAllegheny.org.

Citizens (not just voters) will speak out to County Council at their next regular meeting on August 22nd. All citizens are encouraged to register ahead and come to this meeting and tell Council why verifiable elections are important. County Council and the Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald should pass this ordinance or others which have been proposed, because such action goes a long way to protecting the integrity of our vote. They should pass it because large numbers of people want it, and exceedingly few oppose it.

VoteAllegheny is a non-partisan volunteer election integrity organization which advocates secure, accessible, recountable voting for all.

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