Newsletter 1 - 27 July 2006
From Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet
"Oh wow, we might even win this one"
Media-attention for the campaign
The launch of our website www.wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl has been quite a success. Many newspapers and magazines have picked up on our initiative and reported on the campaign. Our website has a complete overview of all coverage in the Dutch media with regard to our campaign:
It was to be expected that such an amount of media-coverage would lead to reactions. For instance from one of the largest manufacturers of non-verifiable voting computers: Nedap. Matthijs Schippers, a voting computer expert at Nedap, tells RTL-Z that voting computers are extensively tested by independent institutes such as TNO. He conveniently neglects to mention that security against manipulation is not featured in the specifications that voting computers are tested against. He also forgets to say that only one computer of each type is tested every four years. Fortunately, most press coverage mentions the recent fraud case in Zeeland, a village in the province of Noord-Brabant. The affair underlines the need for a transparent voting procedure that allows a manual recount of all the ballots cast.
In addition to the regular media, numerous weblogs are covering the campaign. Bloggers put banners on their sites and incite fierce discussions. The reactions we receive are mostly positive: the amount of people that see that the current situation is not sustainable surprises even us.
Public debate has intensified, meaning one of our goals has already been accomplished. Change will only happen when many, many people see there is a problem and express that they feel that the current voting computers are not acceptable to them.
If you do encounter the campaign in the media, and the piece isn't yet on our website, then please send an e-mail to email@example.com. If you know how this site works then you can also add information to many pages yourself. For some hints and tips into using the site, take a look at:
Tips en truuks (dutch)
We have only been active for a month and we can already boast the following achievements:
- Many people are using the words 'voting computers' instead of 'voting machines'. This is an important distinction because all 'voting machines' ever used in The Netherlands are really computers. The user just has to blindly assume that the machine does what it says it does. Nobody in the polling station will ever have the opportunity to verify whether the count was honest and all voting computers ever used in The Netherlands are built to technical specifications that make them perfectly capable of playing chess or to lying about the election results.
- Political parties GroenLinks in The Hague and PvdA in Amsterdam have asked official questions as to the reliability of voting computers. Politicians are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is an issue here.
- The local council of Ooststellingwerf has decided to stick to pencil and paper. All of this while the mayor, when he was inaugerated earlier this year, has said he wanted to introduce computerized voting.
- The director of constitutional affairs and legislation of the Ministry of Interior Affairs has contacted us. His Ministry and the Election Council take our campaign "very seriously". We have written an answer that details where we stand and how we see a potential dialogue:
The first "wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl" social event was a success! Around 60 people paid a visit, many offered their help and the quality of conversations was high. After the summer vacations we will organize more social events, and possibly even something like a serieus seminar.
We've got a web-shop where you can buy T-shirts, sweaters, buttons, refrigerator magnets, caps, mugs, mouse mats, bags and bumper stickers.
Freedom Of Information Act (Wob in Dutch)
We Wobbed our first stack of paper: the city of Amsterdam decided to answer all our questions from the request, leading to a gigantic stack of paper. We scanned it and placed the PDFs online. A first glance allows insight into how the procedure works, and offers a lot of information about the Sdu NewVote system. It is clear that we are not the only ones who think the current way of voting on computers is a bad idea. A stream of complaints shows that the introduction of computers has created quite a mess in some parts of the city. A thorough analysis of the documents will follow in the coming weeks and months.
We have seen visitor-numbers steadily increase, and banners placed on other sites do generate tremendous traffic to our wiki. Help us point people in our direction and put a banner on your homepage, website or blog.
Comic: The Election Cabinet
Koen Hottentot, alias KoHo, is the house artist of our campaign. In the comic strip "The Election Cabinet" he expertly helps people understand exactly where the problem lies:
Spread the word
Elections without paper are beyond their expiration date, and everyone should be made aware of this. Talk about voting computers at parties, discuss the issues at work, talk about it with your brother who works at the Ministry of Interior, write a letter to your local newspaper or make a podcast about it.