Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Q&A: James Goodwille Pierre

Continuing in my series of interviews with local candidates, I bring you a Q&A with J. Goodwille Pierre, who is the Democratic candidate for County Clerk in Harris County.

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

My name is James Goodwille Pierre and I’m running for Harris County Clerk.

Demonstrated by my accomplishments, I believe in hands-on community partnerships through service, education and outreach.

2. What exactly does the County Clerk do?

Primarily, the Harris County Clerk’s office is our county’s chief record keeper and oversees the election process.

The office has three primary roles: 1) maintain the records of the Commissioners’ Court, County Probate Courts and County Civil Courts at Law, 2) maintain real property records including state and federal tax liens; vital statistics records such as marriage licenses and assumed names; and uniform commercial code records, and 3) administer county and state elections.

3. What are your professional qualifications for this job?

I believe in active, hands-on community partnerships. I believe in the human rights of all people and am ready to be Harris County’s hard working, committed and concerned County Clerk.

My educational, professional, and public and community service backgrounds qualify me for this job:

  • My education background includes being a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. I attended Morehouse College in Atlanta from 1983-1986 and George State University from 1987-1989 where I earned a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry with a Minor in Physics. I received a Masters in Education from the University of Central Florida and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2000. I am licensed in the Supreme Court of Texas, Federal Southern District of Texas and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Currently, I am employed as Adjunct Professor at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and Manager of Small Business Development and Contract Compliance for the Houston Airport System.
  • From 2003 until the end of 2004, I served as the Texas Deputy Director for People for The American Way. In this capacity, I was the State Coordinator for the Texas Unlock Your Vote! Campaign. With the help of coalition partners, the Unlock Your Vote! Campaign registered over 20,000 new voters.
  • I also served as the Texas Legal Director and African American Outreach Coordinator for Election Protection 2004, the nation’s most far-reaching effort to protect voter rights. In this capacity, I was responsible for organizing civil rights lawyers and advocates to represent voters in lawsuits, preserve access to the polls, expose and prevent voter intimidation, solve problems with new voting machines, technology and ballot forms, and protect voter rights. I recruited the legal assistance needed and was co-counsel on the 2004 Federal Southern District of Texas Lawsuit, NAACP Prairie View Chapter vs. Waller County District Attorney. This successful lawsuit protected the rights of Prairie View students to vote in the local elections without being intimidated.
  • Previously, I served as the District Director for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-18th TX) where I was responsible for managing the overall operation of the 18th Congressional District while developing synergy between the District Office and the D.C. Office. In addition, I represented the Congresswoman at various meetings and events in the district, and nurtured and established constituent relationships throughout the district, while working with elected officials at the city, county and state levels to help with all community needs.
  • From 2003-2005, I served as Chairman of Houston’s Government Procurement Connections (GPC) Planning Committee. The GPC is an annual conference, which draws more than 3,000 small business owners seeking government contracting opportunities, and more than 500 representatives from various government entities. At the GPC conference, attendees have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with city, county, state, and federal representatives involved in purchasing decisions for their agencies. I am dedicated to helping small and minority owned businesses, and the conference has enjoyed outstanding growth and produced tangible benefits for small and minority owned businesses.
  • Finally, I am an elected director on the Board of the State Bar of Texas, Commissioner on the City of Houston’s Building and Standards Commission, and a Sustaining Member of the Harris County Democratic Party. I am also active as Chair of Region V of the National Bar Association, Chair of the African American Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Texas, Immediate Past President of the Houston Lawyers Association, and a subscribing life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I’m a Deacon at The Community of Faith Baptist Church and currently sit on the Board of Directors of The Dominion Community Development Corporation as well as The Robert F. Tinsley Scholarship Fund.

4. Incumbent Clerk Beverly Kaufman was responsible for the implementation of the eSlate voting machines. What is your opinion of the eSlates?

The eSlate machine itself is viable technology and was implemented at a time when an upgrade in voting efficiencies was greatly needed. The challenge lies in effective implementation of the eSlate system. I do not believe the system has been properly instituted.

eSlate was implemented in Harris County in November 2001. Even with over a year of experience, in November 2003 an investigation revealed a serious error – poll workers assigned the wrong ballots to voters.

We must build voter confidence in order to preserve the foundation of our democracy – the citizen’s right to vote.

5. What could be done to make the voting experience in Harris County better?

We should have an electoral system where registering to vote is convenient, voting is efficient and pleasant, voting machines work properly, fraud is deterred, and disputes are handled fairly and expeditiously.

The measures taken to accomplish this should be transparently communicated to our citizens to begin building voter confidence.

We also need to properly allocate voting machines and personnel to high volume voting sites to avoid long lines. And, personnel need to be trained to assure accuracy and efficiency in service.

6. Much has been written about the integrity and security of electronic voting machines. How secure are the eSlates?

Proponents of the eSlate machines will point to studies of voting problems where eSlates were used that revealed operator error rather than a malfunction of the technology itself. Without the source code being made available, however, voters have no assurances that their votes are secure. In addition, the accuracy and verification tests are not administered properly. The eSlate machines are a long way from the level of security needed to instill confidence in the voting public.

7. What can be done to improve their security?

I believe a task force should be created to look at the procedural and technological safeguards of the eSlate technology. This task force should research, develop and implement security and integrity measures that detect modification of software and parallel testing to detect intrusion software codes.

Secondly, I believe in implementation of a voter-verifiable paper audit trail. This is an important step to increase our citizens’ confidence that their votes will be counted accurately and can be verified should the technology fail.

8. Do you believe that the eSlates should print a paper receipt of each vote? If so, should these receipts be the official ballots or just serve as backups? If not, why not?

Yes, as indicated above, I believe in implementation of a voter-verifiable paper audit trail or back-up.

9. What is your opinion of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)?

First, I want to ensure everyone knows what HAVA is. The Help America Vote Act of 2002, H.R. 3295, signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2002, provides $3.9 billion in federal funds to states from 2003 through 2006 to replace outdated voting machines, improve voter education and train precinct workers.

Under the law, states must:

  • Implement a uniform, centralized statewide voter registration computer database;
  • Provide provisional ballots to ensure no individual is turned away at the polls; and
  • Provide at least one voting machine that is accessible to the disabled per precinct.

I believe HAVA elevates the importance of an efficient and effective electoral system.

10. How good a job has Harris County done in fulfilling the requirements of HAVA?

Harris County complied with HAVA early. Areas for improvement in Harris County are 1) properly trained personnel, 2) proper implementation and use of a paper audit trail, and 3) incorporation and public communication of eSlate security mechanisms.

11. What is your opinion of the concept of “voting centers”, where the early voting model of a small number of centralized locations would extend to Election Day?

The voting center model came about in response to implementing the new requirements of HAVA. Voting centers ideally would be more cost-effective (voting centers save taxpayer money because they require fewer workers than do precincts), and provide an efficient and consistent voting system. Under this model, citizens may vote at any designated voting center rather than their precinct.

In Harris County, we use this model for early voting, which works well. It is prudent that Harris County fully evaluates the effectiveness of voting centers after a trial period. The upsides of using voter centers could outweigh the challenges as long as voters have proper information regarding the location of and access to voting centers.

12. What areas for improvement do you see in how the Harris County Clerk’s office is now run?

An education regarding the responsibilities of our County Clerk should not be needed. I want to make the office more visible, helpful and accessible to the public. Additionally, my goal is to be an advocate and resource for our citizens rather than simply a clerk. And, I will place particular weight on elevating the importance of voting for all citizens.

My promise is to:

  • Provide greater emphasis on voter participation.
  • Guarantee your vote is recorded as intended through verifiable paper trail ballots.
  • Increase confidence in our voting systems through testing and expert oversight of procedures and technology.
  • Be a leader with high visibility in the community.
  • Properly allocate voting machines and personnel to high volume voting sites.
  • Improve training of poll workers to assure your voting rights and efficient service.
  • Increase security of all records maintained by the County Clerk.
  • Better and timelier communication of voting location changes.
  • Expedite protection measures to assure your voting rights are not compromised and swift administration of justice when infractions occur.
  • Give you an updated and user-friendly Web site for the County Clerk’s office.
  • Create task forces of lawyers and grassroots community leaders to improve services provided by the County Clerk’s office.
  • Improved Neighborhood Center administration.

13. Why do you believe you will be a better County Clerk than Beverly Kaufman?

I want to advocate for the people of Harris County. I have always been about hands-on community partnerships through service, education and outreach – I will bring this tenacity, energy and passion to the County Clerk position.

14. What else do we need to know about you?

I am grateful and humbled by my many supporters and organizational endorsements within all communities in Harris County. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my biggest supporters – my beautiful wife of 11 years Jacquelyn Tinsley, a native Houstonian, and my two lovely daughters, Joi Candace, nine years old, and Jada Elaine, who is three.

Postscript: Since I first emailed these questions to Pierre, a group of activists filed a lawsuit to “prevent the State of Texas from using unreliable electronic voting machines in the November elections”. I asked Pierre for a statement regarding this suit. His statement is as follows:

The voters must feel confident that their votes are counted. I applaud David Van Os, Sonia Santana, the NAACP of Austin and its president Nelson Linder for forcing the State of Texas to listen and, hopefully, use common sense.

As someone who teaches and practices intellectual property law, I can tell you that it encourages and protects companies like Hart InterCivic in the production of proprietary technology such as source code. I believe, however, the law must give way to greater societal concerns. It is vitally important that our voting rights be protected from even the mere appearance of impropriety. We need to explore all available legal avenues to have the source codes made available for inspection and security.

Thank you, James Goodwille Pierre. You can read my earlier Q&As with Chuck Silverman here, and with Bill Connolly here.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

3 Comments

  1. glide625 says:

    Man, this person lists more reasons to not vote for him than to vote for him. He would spend money like a drunken sailor. A task force of “Lawyers”? That’s called a hole in the public purse into which money is pored by the bucket. But……thanks for the info. You might want to tell your friend to be a little less specific. Most American politicians have learned to hide their real agenda, which of course involves spending buckets of bucks while increasing the need for an ever expanding budget to do stuff that was never really needed in the first place.

  2. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    to above:

    Sailors don’t have much money to begin with. Monarchs on the other hand do and so would spend money like…Drunken Monarchs.

    ……………….

    E-Voting, such as eSlate, has removed the evidence of Paper Ballots. E-Voting is No Evidence voting. Therefore, it could never be made reliable on the very face of it.

    So, it was very worrisome that James Goodwille Pierre would say that No Evidence voting is reliable voting.

    It is encouraging that James Goodwille Pierre has modified his position to support the Texas Constitutional Suffrage requirement for paper ballots, the basis for the new case filed to prevent the State of Texas from using unreliable electronic voting machines. This will make a big difference, if we can hand count the ballots. No receipts, no scanning. Scanning machines hide the evidence of paper ballots against more open, accurate and timely hand counted ballots for as long as possible, such as the case with Gore and Kerry.

    Many problems arise with No Evidence and Hidden Evidence Voting which very amazingly affect only one party. Statistically impossible.

    Something must change so that we can problem solve for the greatest threat to all of us, especially on the coast, caused by the extinction level job performance of Thelma Bush and his Louise GOP’s Voluntary Pollution Laws which are causing global warming to accelerate faster and faster.

    We have to problem solve for global warming; so, we have to problem solve for open, honest elections. We need evidence returned to our elections before November 2006, even if it is up to us.

    ………………

    from: BlackBoxVoting.org

    “We’re counting the votes. Get over it.”

    Sign up for NATIONAL HAND COUNT REGISTRY

    Will you volunteer to hand count votes if needed?

    Sign up for everything here:
    http://www.bbvforums.org/cgi-bin/forums/board-profile.cgi?action=register

    …………………

    Evidence, proof could be added by having parallel elections as suggested by Lynn Landes, Bev Harris and Mark Crispin Miller.

    from:
    http://www.ecotalk.org/VotingSecurity.htm

    Another simple idea suggested by Lynn Landes is: Right after you vote on Election Day, send to the candidate(s) for whom you voted a postcard or letter with your name, address, and signature, and simply state that you voted for him/her. Candidates can use that information to challenge “official” election results. Candidates of any party should not concede until they have canvassed some or all precincts to check on official election results.

    Lynn Landes on Parallel Elections:

    So, let’s do something different. We’ll go to Plan B. We’ll organize our own Parallel Elections.

    A Parallel Election would be held in tandem with the official election. It could be organized on a precinct, county, or statewide basis. And anyone could do it. It’s simple. On Election Day, “parallel election pollworkers” (PEPs) would position themselves outside the polls. They would provide voters with parallel ballots to mark and a ballot box in which to cast them. At the end of the day, PEPs would compare their tallies with the official election returns. If the tallies don’t match, the election can be challenged.

    But, the really big deal is this… voters would be asked to print their names and addresses and sign their ballots. What’s the point? To provide proof. Candidates need hard evidence in order to challenge election results. A signed ballot would act as a voter’s affidavit – as direct evidence of the voter’s intent.

    Exit polls and audits provide circumstantial evidence, at best. We need much more.

    During the 2004 election, tens of thousands of voting rights activists worked the polls. They documented tens of thousands of election irregularities. But, all that documentation didn’t provide any direct evidence of how people actually voted. Even when recounts were conducted, as in Ohio, election officials managed to sabotage the process.

    The original goal of the secret ballot was to minimize vote selling and voter intimidation. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, that time has passed. The secret ballot has become the refuge of scoundrels and unscrupulous election officials. It provides perfect cover for vote fraud and system failure.

    A signed ballot is not such a farfetched idea. In the 1700’s and 1800’s, “There was no right to a secret ballot; having sworn in as a voter, the voter may have simply called out his choices to the election clerks who sit… behind the judge tallying the vote,” writes University of Iowa professor Douglas W. Jones.

    In some parts of Switzerland, citizens still follow the ancient custom of electing their government by an open show of hands on the last Sunday morning of every April.

    Think about it. The U.S. Congress, state assemblies, and even town councils, all vote in public. Why should our votes be kept secret? What are we afraid of? Are we afraid we’d lose our jobs if our employers knew how we voted? That ship has sailed – quite literally. Millions of jobs in America have already been outsourced to foreign countries. It’s only going to get worse if we can’t boot these lunatics out of office. Are we afraid that some voters will sell their votes? Oh, you mean like our legislators already do? Listen. I wouldn’t make vote selling legal, but I wouldn’t get my shorts in a twist over it, either. Or, are we afraid to disappoint our friends and family? It’s more important not to disappoint yourself.

    A Parallel Election serves three purposes. First, it introduces authentic voting to American citizens. Second, it asserts local control over the voting process. And third, it provides a platform from which to seriously challenge election results.

    So, what do you think? Does a Parallel Election make sense? Does it stand a chance? Will people respond? I certainly hope so, because otherwise we’re left with some pretty dismal choices, all framed in a negative context. I think this is a positive project that’s worth a try. I’m game. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail at [email protected].

    Let’s show our machine-made politicians that we will stand up and be counted.

    …………………….

    Or, perhaps Patrick Fitzgerald will pull their plug.

    Abramoff’s Diebold + Ohio Ney’s HAVA = Fitzgerald

    So, HAVA…

    …………………….

    http://markcrispinmiller.blogspot.com/2006/07/call-to-arms-on-this-fourth-of-july.html

    A call to arms on this Fourth of July!

    Here, friends, is a clarion call from a great new group–the Election Defense Alliance (EDA). I’m proud to say that I am on the board of this endeavor, and can vouch for the integrity, intelligence and patriotic spirit of all those who put the EDA together.

    Please send this email far and wide. This a group that really gets it.

    MCM

    ***

    Dear Election Integrity Activist,

    Who would have thought that our 230th Day of Independence would see American Democracy hanging by a thread? Yet so it is, and a good part of that thread is our movement to restore honest elections. Our task is immense and we are all rising to it. But as so much vital work is being undertaken in election integrity groups around the country-and as we find ourselves yet again deep in the swamp of skullduggery the American election cycle has become-the necessity for coordinating our ideas, strategies, tactics and resources is becoming more apparent than ever.

    At this critical juncture, when the need for working together can not be overestimated, we are happy to announce the formation of the Election Defense Alliance (EDA), a national coordinating body of election integrity activists, working throughout the country to defend our election systems against covert election fraud.

    EDA’s primary functions will be to provide coordination and focus; eliminate duplication of efforts; create a clearinghouse for the sharing of materials, know-how, and other resources; and facilitate cohesive decision-making about strategic priorities and tactical approaches.

    It is clear that election integrity forces will be successful only if our efforts have a cumulative and mutually reinforcing effect. At the same time it is also evident that strategies and tactics must be tailored to the needs of individual venues, and that local groups generally have the most experience in identifying and meeting such needs. Therefore EDA is structured to draw energy and ideas from the grassroots level and provide the synergy necessary to meld these disparate efforts into a cohesive national force to be reckoned with.

    Because November is bearing down on us, our initial emphasis is on the coordination of all efforts pertaining to election monitoring, data analysis, and rapid and effective response. Our goal is to permit affiliated groups to concentrate on their particular focus while Election Defense Alliance functions both to facilitate their efforts and to amplify the effect. To that end, we will share techniques for recruiting, training, and deploying the volunteer armies that will be needed in the field. We are also concentrating on establishing media connections, raising funds, and developing coalitions with non-election-related organizations to build the massive public awareness needed if election integrity is to be front-and-center in America.

    In the longer run, our attention will be focused on all of the following strategies and supportive processes:

    Election Monitoring
    Data Analysis
    Investigation
    Litigation
    Legislation
    Public Education
    Coalition Building
    Public Events
    Election Day Rapid Response
    Voting and Registration Systems
    Volunteer Recruitment and Training
    Fundraising
    Communications
    Media and PR

    Each strategy component will have a working group of activists focused on that particular activity. Each group will select its own leader who will also serve as the group’s representative to EDA’s Coordinating Council, or leadership body. EDA’s affiliated organizations, whether or not they participate directly in one or several of these groups, will be able to draw upon the work and contributions of fellow affiliates and EDA’s collective expertise. In this way, EDA affiliates will be able to concentrate on their own specific missions (e.g., exit polling, HCPB, litigation, etc.), while drawing upon the collective for many of the nuts-and-bolts components (such as education, PR, volunteer recruitment) that are necessary for successful election integrity initiatives. At the same time, individual initiatives will have dramatically greater impact when linked through EDA with the many similar programs being undertaken nationwide. To look at specific examples of just how EDA will function to facilitate the work and strengthen the hand of election integrity activists, please click here.

    In sum, affiliation with Election Defense Alliance will enable each member group to transcend its own resources without sacrificing its autonomy. The result of such synergy, we believe, will be the critical mass that we have all learned from experience is essential to our success.

    EDA differs from existing national groups in several important respects. First, it is not primarily a discussion list. We are action-oriented. Our primary objective is to create and implement a more comprehensive strategy than would be possible for any individual group or small number of groups working together. Yet, in recognizing the importance of coordinated strategies, we nonetheless also perceive that the vast majority of the work must be done at the state and local levels, not on the national level. Furthermore, we view attempts at national legislative reform as highly unlikely to succeed, and indeed fraught with HAVAesque perils, given the current constellation of power in Congress.

    At EDA we believe that success in responding to the electoral state-of-siege will require a vast expansion of public awareness and the channeling of that awareness into corrective action by citizens at every phase of the electoral process throughout the United States. And we believe that the public cannot be mobilized to the necessary scale and speed of action unless the prevailing reality, including the nexus between election-rigging and political dominance, is fully and frankly exposed. EDA will not shrink from publicly making those connections.

    Election Defense Alliance is both aggressive and strategic, prepared for the long haul but aware that there is no more wiggle room for delay, confusion, or ineffectiveness. Recent developments-such as the RFK Rolling Stone article, the Brennan Center Report, the California 50th District Special “Election,” and a dramatic uptick in media attention and public awareness-have set the stage for a very public battle over the future of our democracy. We know that the still out-manned forces of electoral integrity must bring their very best to this battle.

    The more individuals and groups affiliated, the stronger will be the impact that all of us will make together.

    The following activists have already endorsed and/or affiliated with EDA: Jerry Adams, Judy Alter, Ray Beckerman, Gary Beckwith, Tom Courbat, Marj Creech, Dorothy Fadiman, Brad Friedman, David Griscom, Sherry Healy, Kip Humphrey, Gail Jonas, Emily Levy, Victoria Lovegren, Sharona Merel, Lewis Miller, Mark Crispin Miller, Bruce O’Dell, Peter Phillips , Ginny Ross, Nancy Tobi, Bob Wilson. By joining with them and working with EDA you can continue the important work you are already doing AND be part of a critical collaborative effort, working together to make the enormous impact necessary for success.

    Our website at http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org, though under construction, already features lots of helpful information, including our Prospectus, principles of governance and organizational structure, a growing resource library, biographical information of affiliated individuals and groups, discussion forums, and a blog. We believe the site will be very helpful in answering any questions you may have about EDA that we have not addressed in this brief introduction.

    We all know that our democracy is at stake and that time is short. This is the most important issue any of us has ever worked on. We must join together to be successful. Make this a momentous Independance Day for American Democracy. Please sign on at http://www.ElectionDefenseAlliance.org/join.

    We very much look forward to working with you.

    In solidarity,

    Dan Ashby
    Sally Castleman
    Jonathan Simon

    Election Defense Alliance co-founders
    posted by MCM

    ……………….

    And the Voting Rights Act needs support.

    December 27, 2004
    Forty Faxes and a Whisper
    Texas Election Scandal
    http://www.counterpunch.org/moses12272004.html

    By GREG MOSES

    “As I look back over the General Election held on Nov. 2, 2004, I know that voting is a ‘right’ that is being taken away everyday,” writes Brenda Denson-Prince. But she is not writing about far away places like Ohio or Florida. She is writing about her own attempt to become the first woman in Kaufman County, Texas to sit on the County Commissioners Court. On the day after Christmas, Denson-Prince faxes me forty pages.

    snip

    “Come out here and explain,” said the administrator to an assistant. Between the two of them, who both seemed pretty nervous, Denson-Prince caught the words “glitch” and “disk.”

    “Deja-Vote,” hollered the headline in Wednesday morning’s Kaufman Herald. “A computer software glitch is being blamed for controversy that occurred Tuesday night as ballots were being counted by Kaufman County election officials,” began the story.
    “The problem occurred when data taken from one counting machine to another computer for collating became corrupted. The data roughly doubled the amount of votes counted for several precincts, according to Kaufman County information technology director George York.” A two-column photo of York showed him testing a ballot-counting machine on Wednesday morning.

  3. Support Science to Reverse Global Warming, if still possible says:

    another quicker, accurate possibility:

    http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/upspr

    An End to “Faith-Based” Voting: Computer Security and Statistical Analysts Describe a Simple and Powerful Alternative

    PRESS RELEASE
    September 8, 2006
    For Immediate Release
    Attn: Political assignments

    Contacts:
    Jonathan Simon, Election Defense Alliance
    [email protected]
    617.538.6012

    Bruce O’Dell, Election Defense Alliance
    [email protected]
    612.309.1330

    AN END TO “FAITH-BASED” VOTING:
    Computer Security and Statistical Analysts Describe a Simple and Powerful alternative

    Summary

    Today the Election Defense Alliance released a report describing the practical implementation details of a simple, unimpeachable method for ensuring the accuracy of electronic voting systems by a public handcount of paper ballot records. This Universal Precinct-Based Handcount Sample (UPS) is a simple, feasible method of hand-counting a sample of paper ballot records in-precinct, on election night, by citizens themselves. It not only returns oversight of elections to the American people, where it rightfully belongs, the UPS is also far more accurate than alternative election audit proposals where only a few percent of precincts are hand-counted, often in secret, and always after the fact. (Download the full report at http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/UPS.pdf )

    The simple, practical UPS validation approach detects fraud or error from any source altering the electronic tally by as little as one percent (1%) with a minimum ninety-nine percent (99%) level of confidence.

    In our current political climate, any challenge to a corrupt election must be timely and have very strong justification, or candidates risk being labeled “sore losers” and accompanying ridicule. The UPS validation, by virtue of being accurate to such a high degree of confidence, enables any candidate of any party to contest any Outcome-altering problems with the electronic tally. And since the UPS hand count is done in-precinct on election night, its findings would be available on election night, enabling candidates in federal or statewide elections to challenge a corrupted tally before the election’s outcome becomes a foregone conclusion in the mind of the public, and before the results are officially certified.

    The report describes the specific means of effectively conducting a public hand count of 10% of the paper ballot records in 100% of the precincts in federal and statewide races. The UPS is to be conducted “in-precinct” on election night, by citizens representing all concerned political parties, and open to general public observation. Because it is conducted in-precinct, the UPS avoids the difficult task of protecting the chain of custody of paper ballot records in 180,000 U.S. precincts. In fact, all the alternative after-the-fact “spot-audit” schemes (such as HR 550, often referred to as the Holt bill) impose this monumental burden since in all those protocols, all precincts must safeguard ballot records until just a few percent are “randomly chosen” some time after the election. Integrity of the chain of custody will be especially suspect, of course, in just those suspect elections which such audits are proposed to safeguard. Since a 10% hand-count sample would be drawn in 100% of precincts on election night, the UPS also eases the transition to decentralized, citizen-monitored hand-count verifications of elections, placing responsibility for the integrity of the vote count in the hands of the American people, where it rightfully belongs.

    Most importantly, the UPS is inherently resistant to manipulation. The report describes how any attempt to systematically manipulate the UPS audit would be extraordinarily difficult to conduct and to conceal. Not only would it require a very large number of participants, any effort to skew the 10% paper hand count in favor of a candidate would be very likely to increase the overall discrepancy, not decrease it. The UPS provides a simple, effective, and vastly more powerful alternative for election validation than does the proposed HR 550 audit, and all such “spot-audit” proposals. The UPS provides a decentralized hand count, reduces chain of custody concerns and provides citizens and candidates a clear and timely warning of fraud or error. Therefore Election Defense Alliance recommends UPS as an alternative to the HR 550 audit.

    In order to restore and maintain citizen trust in the integrity of American democracy, it is critical that wherever electronic vote tallying is performed, paper ballot records must always be produced and must always be checked by the best possible “security mechanism” — the American people, working together in public.